$2.75 a Gallon and Happy to Pay It

I've paid $2.75 a gallon for fuel and I've been happy to pay it. No, it wasn't while vacationing in Canada or Europe or for super unleaded at a gas station in the Los Altos Hills. It was for biodiesel. That is diesel fuel made from soy beans. That's right my oil comes from the mid-west, not the Middle East.

This fuel works in any diesel engine and actually helps clean the engine, and is a better lubricant than the fossil fuel version commonly called number-2 diesel. It has 50% less particulate emissions, and smells a lot better, like popping corn in vegetable oil. It's renewable, and the carbon dioxide it produces is re-absorbed by next year's crop of soybeans as part of a cycle. This is unlike fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide from oil not seen on the Earth's surface for hundreds of millions of years.

Biodiesel is also non-toxic, and biodegradable. Biodiesel is made from a variety of vegetable oils, and it can be used without any modifications in any modern diesel engine. In fact it can be mixed in any proportion with regular diesel.

The most exciting aspect of biodiesel is the idea of making it from waste oil such as the kind that comes from McDonald's french fryers. It's estimated that only 10% of the 2-4 billion gallons of waste vegetable oil is recycled every year. And yes, fuel made this way makes the exhaust smell like fries too. Now that would be a real freedom fry.

While many Americans think of diesel engines as smelly producers of black clouds with slow acceleration and noisy clattering engines, none of this is true of the modern diesel. In fact 40% of passenger vehicles sold in Europe today are diesels, and much of Volkswagen's product line, including the Beetle, are available in the US with these engines.

The website www.biodiesel.org lists places where biodiesel can be purchased. San Francisco Petroleum will sell you biodiesel by the drum, and if you have a CFN card, you can drive right up to the CFN station on 3rd and fill-up.

Most recently I paid $2.37 a gallon for 100% biodiesel. Not that far off recent prices in the area for gasoline and a small price to pay to put my money where my mouth is on global warming, and fossil fuel dependence.

©Copyright 2003. Marc Auerbach