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Old 08-05-2005, 07:40 PM
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wodnek and i made the local paper

You know the agony of pulling up to the gas pump and looking at the final bill for filling even a small gasoline tank. Ken Dow, however, is agony-free these days. He hasn't been to a gas station in 13 weeks, yet he still drives his car. The solution that he and partner Jack Berry have is to make their own fuel. There's no refinery in his garage, just a standard electric domestic water heater, a couple of plastic barrels, a pump and some pipes. Into one end of this processor go alcohol, lye and waste vegetable oil from various area restaurants. Out the other end comes biodiesel, a cleaner alternative to the petroleum-based diesel fuel that you smell while driving behind a large truck.When Dow fires up the engine on his vintage diesel car, the only thing you'll smell at the tailpipe is that hot oil odor familiar from being downwind of a restaurant. When he presses down on the accelerator pedal, there's no sooty black exhaust like that which trucks belch.Berry and Dow found each other through a seminar that Dow hosted in October, and found that their needs were complimentary. "With my job, I just didn't have time to go collecting the oil," Dow said. Berry had time to collect but not the time to do the processing. So they joined forces. Berry roams Racine County picking up the waste oil - for the disposal of which restaurants would otherwise have to pay, he said. Chinese restaurants and places that serve fish and chips are best, he said, because they use fresh food and change the oil every few days. That keeps down the contaminants, such as water, and thus the amount of fussing that Berry and Dow must do. Berry filters the oil to remove small particles, and Dow devotes a couple of hours to each batch of 20 to 35 gallons.It's not hard, Dow said. He really spends only 30 minutes operating the equipment. His processor cost about $350, and even people without mechanical aptitude could do it, he said. He does have to take precautions, such as storing the flammable alcohol in a safe place and being careful with the lye, which is very caustic.At the pumpWhat it comes down to in the final analysis is about $1 a gallon for fuel. Mileage is lower, about 19 to 21 miles per gallon on biodiesel versus 22 to 24 on regular diesel. That's because biodiesel doesn't contain quite as much energy as the petroleum version, Berry said.Both Dow and Berry drive Mercedes which are some 20 years old and cost less than $2,000. But, they say, those engines will run forever with good maintenance. Berry even put a special tank in his car so it will run on unaltered vegetable oil, although that also requires a heating element so the oil is thin enough to be swallowed by the engine.Indeed, that's one potential drawback of the fuel. Biodiesel starts to gel around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, Berry said, which will make winter driving in Wisconsin a challenge. Unless, Dow said, you blend the biodiesel with something else.The movementAbout 25 million gallons of biodiesel were produced in the United States in 2004, said Jenna Higgins, 32, director of communications for the National Biodiesel Board. That is only fuel produced for commercial resale; it doesn't include the people who, like Dow and Berry, make and use their own.The board, which was formed in 1992 by state soybean groups, is now the trade association for the biodiesel industry."Europe is the international leader in biodiesel. It's been widely used there for about 15, 20 years," she said, and European countries produce about 500 million gallons annually. In France, she said, drivers may not even realize that biodiesel is blended with regular diesel while in Germany you can find pumps selling 100 percent biodiesel right next to those selling regular diesel.The board has reservations about homemade diesel, Higgins said, because people who aren't careful will have fuel with enough contaminants to gum up an engine, and that could give the fledgling industry a bad reputation.Biodiesel is certainly an alternative for consumers, and although the federal government estimates it could be about 10 percent of the fuel market in the next decade, it's just one alternative and no magic solution because of the enormous quantity of fuel we use, Higgins said. "There isn't really anything that can replace petroleum at this point."Even Willie Nelson - yes, the singer - is on board. Nelson has started his own biodiesel brand called BioWillie, an 80-20 blend of petroleum diesel and biodiesel that is sold in Texas and at some places on the East Coast. This is according to Green Car Journal.OriginsBerry became interested in biodiesel when his son, Carl Wilcox, now 18, had to do a paper for a class at Park High School. Though he considered himself knowledgeable about cars, Berry hadn't heard of biodiesel. He looked into it, and started making the fuel because it seemed the right thing to do, he said.Aside from being biodegradable, the fuel produces fewer fine particles, less carbon dioxide and fewer hydrocarbons than regular diesel fuel, but it does produce more nitrous oxides. This is according to the U.S. Department of Energy."I remember the first Earth Day when I was in college, and I try not to leave a big footprint wherever I go," Berry said. "And it just seemed like a really cool thing to do to have a car that would burn waste vegetable oil or burn biodiesel, and I wouldn't have to buy any, and I'd pollute less.""I was looking at it strictly from the screw-the-Saudis aspect of it," Dow said. "And do they feel the impact of me, one person, doing it? No.""But two people," Berry joked.Two people may seem a drop in the bucket. Add enough drops together and you get a barrel - a 55-gallon barrel in this case with a bit of waste glycerin at the bottom.

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Old 08-05-2005, 09:34 PM
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Holy crap!!!

Whoever said punctuation was overrated?
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Old 08-05-2005, 11:15 PM
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ya know....i just copied and pasted. i don't remember the actual article being this bad.
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currently
[1981 300 td tdidi 165500 dark brown/palamino-Brownie-mine-3k miles of ownership
1983 240d 162+++ Anthricite grey w/ henna red interior and hella lights-wifes car-Red

the above two cars are for sale
and can be seen on the cars for sale thread here. pix also available.


240d-144+ Manilla Yellow w/ palmino interior-greasecar kit-Blondie-the college kids car

23" gt 21 speed still on original tires-still got the nubs
21" khs tandem
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Old 08-06-2005, 01:44 PM
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Nice article. Hopefully you're paying the applicable taxes, otherwise they now know right where to find you ( and you may end up with more than biodiesel in common with Willie...)

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