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Surprising Science

Cars that Run on Cooking Oil

A growing number of people are making their own fuel using cooking oil which restaurants, for now, are happy to give away. Is this a sustainable plan or just a crowd of eccentrics?

What’s the Latest Development?

A relatively simple procedure which turns used cooking oil into fuel for diesel engines is becoming increasingly popular. The recipe created by Peter Ferlow, a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, can convert oil from local kitchen waste into fuel at a cost of about one dollar per gallon, plus two hours of labor. For now, restaurants are happy to give their oil away in order save on disposal costs but this may not always be the case. Biofuel enthusiasts say they are even willing to pay a premium to be petroleum-free.

What’s the Big Idea?

Fuel made from cooking oil is safer than petroleum-based gasoline in that it does not explode but this also prevents the fuel for being used in most car engines, which run using internal combustion. But in the short term, if you want to stop paying for gasoline, get thee a diesel engine (you’ll need to modify it a little). Andy Pag, who sponsors a cooking oil-based road rally, has driven over 16,500 without paying a penny for fuel in places as far off as Mauritania.

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