Q. Hi, My name is Carlee and I am 16 years old and I am about to get my drivers license on September 6th. I will be buying my car by myself and as you know gas is extremely expensive… it just hit $1.50 a gallon here in Virginia. I am all for staying on the inexpensive side of everything due to me being so young and having to pay for gas and all of the things that go along with having a car. I have been interested in biodiesel for a while but have never really looked anything up on the internet until tonight and I stumbled across your website. I was wondering what kind of car would work the best for biodiesel and would be inexpensive to maintain and repair, how much it would cost for me to set up an area for me to create the biodiesel in my backyard, and around how much I would save relative to cost of setting up, converting a car (if necessary) and other things of the nature. I would love to hear back from you and thank you for setting up such an amazing organization.
A. You do not have to convert a diesel vehicle to run on biodiesel – all diesel vehicles can run on biodiesel without any modifications, you can just put it in the fuel tank like with regular diesel fuel. You can also mix biodiesel with regular diesel.There are quite a few diesel trucks and passenger vehicles. VW makes quite a few good diesel cars that get great fuel mileage, many over 50 mpg. Also, Mercedes are well built vehicles. Check out Ebay Motors http://www.motors.ebay.com/ and search for diesel to see a sample of what type of vehicles available out there and help you narrow down the choices. This is not always the case, but usually the older the vehicle (also those with higher mileage), the more likelihood of costly repairs. so, if possible, get the newest and/or lowest mileage vehicle you can afford. There are fewer diesel mechanics and some older diesel parts are harder to find, so repairs can cost quite a lot.
We learned how to make biodiesel with the help of Maria Alovert’s book available at http://www.localb100.com/
Also, it cost about $150-$300 to build a processor to homebrew biodiesel – see http://www.biodieselcommunity.org/appleseedprocessor/
After you have a processor, and using free waste vegetable oil, your only “major” cost is methanol and lye which will be approx. 25 -75 cents per gallon of biodiesel!
FYI, gasoline out here in California is over $3.50 a gallon