Wednesday, June 25, 2008

End of the year celebration

We showed off our Fat to Fuel car at the NGHS end of the year celebration. It was great to share our project with so many other students, faculty and other members of the community. We demonstrated the car and when we switched it from diesel to WVO there was a clear consensus that the exhaust smelled a bit like a Chinese restaurant. In our experience the oil from Chinese restaurants has been the cleanest and least contaminated by animal fats and other impurities. You can see the brochure holder attached to the side of the car. We gave away almost all of them to interested visitors.

Here are some of the most common questions we received:

Q: How can I do this to my car so it can run on waste veggie oil?
A: You can only do this type of conversion on a diesel vehicle, so unless you have a diesel you'd need a different car.

Q: Did you guys really do the conversion? Does it work?
A: Of course we did, and of course it does! Can't you smell the egg rolls?

Q: How is this better for the environment?
A: Using WVO in a vehicle is basically a form of recycling. One advantage is that the waste veggie oil (WVO) produces less overall pollution than petroleum based diesel fuel. The other major advantage is that WVO is practically carbon neutral. Since the plants it comes from have absorbed carbon from the air as they grew, burning the WVO just cycles the carbon back into the atmosphere to be absorbed by more plants. Burning petroleum based diesel burns carbon which has been safely stored under ground for millions of years, adding to the overall amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Q: What kind of mileage do you get?
A: We haven't run the car enough to calculate it, but other people who have installed similar WVO systems have calculated that they drive about 100 miles on each gallon of diesel fuel. You only need to run the car on diesel until the engine and WVO tank heat up, and then you can switch to pure WVO.

Q: Why don't all cars run on this?
A: The problem is that there really isn't enough waste vegetable oil around to feed our voracious appetite for oil to run our cars. This type of waste veggie oil (WVO) system could be used in many vehicles though. For example, a company which owns lots of restaurants or food processing factories might be able to use oil from their own fryers to power their fleet of trucks.

Mr. Jose DeLaGarza, one of our building engineers, was instrumental in making this project happen smoothly. Thank you Mr. DeLaGarza!