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Running Your Engine on Recycled Veggie Oil

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Published on Jun 7, 2008

And vegetable oil can be used in diesel car engines as a cheaper and greener alternative to fossil fuel. It is fast growing in popularity among Australians. Here is the story of a DIY biofuel user.

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For Sean Wright from Berowra in northern Sydney, Australia, fueling his car is not a matter of visiting his local petrol station. Instead, he fills his car up at home with an unlikely alternative --vegetable oil.

With a little know-how, making the switch to vegetable oil is a relatively easy process. Wright filters his oil in barrels, then converts the filter in his engine.

Wright says vegetable oil runs more smoothly and quietly than diesel.

When he needs more, he simply visits his local restaurant or fish and chip shop to pick up their unwanted oil.

[Sean Wright, DIY Biofuel User]:
"It's cheaper so I can get the vegetable oil from the restaurants-- they don't want it so they give it to me for for free. There is quite a lot of effort involved with the filtering and the conversion of the vehicle but there's a number of reasons and the environmental side is definitely one of them."

Robert Fyvie from the Biofuel Users Association in Australia says he's noticed a rise in the number of people using vegetable oil and bio-diesel.

[Robert Fyvie, Biofuel Users Association]:
"Particularly in the last month, there has been a lot more interest in bio-fuels as peak oil is hitting and the price of oil is going up."

However the carbon emissions saved through the use of biofuel can be offset if forests are cut down to make way for biofuel crop plantations.

[Mark Disendorf, Environmental Studies Lecturer]:
"Overseas in Indonesia and Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia they are clearing vast areas of jungle and planting palm trees so they can produce lots of biodiesel for the European market from palm oil. But this is really devastating. Clearing the jungle not only destroys the biodiversity, the animal life and plant life but it also produces very big amounts of greenhouse gas emissions so this is not an ecologically sustainable pathway."

It seems for the moment, though, biofuel is certainly sustainable at a local level, like Wright's. The oil he uses is waste, and was going to be thrown out anyway, so he can drive happy knowing he is helping reduce his carbon footprint.

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