How to Use Vegetable Oil to Fuel Your Car

Towards B20

The previous tank of petrol was half B20 so that’s effectively 10% biodiesel (assuming it’s mixed). I’d noticed the car appeared to have (even) more juice, and come refill time I’m now at 6.3L/100km and that’s with most trips just across town and me behaving rather sporty (learning more about the gears).

With the refill the tank is now nearly all B20, and boy can you notice… it has even higher torque in any gear. In 1st it now pretty much races up my steep driveway without me touching the accelerator – previously it’d just hang or crawl gently. The effective range of all gears has thus increased at least on the bottom end, which is actually very handy in some busy traffic situations.

So I’m expecting the milage to rise further just on the basis of running on almost all B20 now. The stuff clearly has more energy (that’s a known fact but it’s fun to see it in action) so I’m basically getting more for the same price – unlike E10 petrol which actually gives people lower milage.

On that note though… with refuelling at the FreedomFuels bowser, I’m not making use of my Coles or Woollies petrol vouchers. So I suppose that’s “costing” me 4c/L, other than that the diesel price is pretty much the same ($1.225/L lately in this area, and for some reason diesel seems to not be subject to the weekly petrol price cycle so it’s pretty stable throughout the week).

PetrolMonkey – track your fuel consumption and compare!

Some time ago friends of mine built the PetrolMonkey site. You can enter a basic profile/name for any car you own, and then input refills. The system then shows nice stats in both numbers and graph, and you can compare with other similar cars. There’s a minimal mobile version also.

By comparing Tiger (it’s the diesel growl ;-) with Otto (“the auto”), I already know that I’m spending about 40% less fuel now per km. Eat that, Kevin Rudd PM, with your pathetic 5% emission reduction over too many years proposal!

The new car, going greener

Just before christmas I finally managed to get the old Subaru Outback all fixed up and shiny ready to sell. Dealers weren’t offering much but it sold within a week on for a decent price. This was to a couple at the North coast, after a few others had called about it and several had had a test drive. The process was actually pretty painless!

So the next day I went car-hunting at dealers in Brisbane who had the cars I was interested in. I’d done my research, and decided I wanted

  • a smaller car – obvious, the Outback was just massive and not really necesary;
  • second hand – couple of years old, good safety features but not paying for the “new”;
  • good fuel economy;
  • something with less environmental impact… this lead me to diesel, because you can run cars on 100% biodiesel which means it’s no longer dependent on fossil resources at all. Hybrids generally use petrol, and with 100% electric (which is unaffordable as yet) it depends on the electricity source;
  • price below $20k. That was a bit more than I got for the Outback, but within decent range of what I could pay cash (I don’t borrow for this kind of expenditure – if I can’t afford it, I wouldn’t buy it) and also realistic in terms of finding something within budget.

With the diesel option, the choice was actually severely limited for the simple fact that most small cars just don’t come in a diesel variant. For instance, the Toyota Yaris has fantastic specs and fuel economy, but no diesel (at least not in Australia). Mazda 2 is great but again no diesel. Serious fail, dear AU car manufacturers/distributors!

The few I did find were Volkswagen Polo (tiny), Volkswagen Golf (expensive), and the like. However, someone pointed out the Hyundai i30 to me. I’d been disregarding Hyundai because the Excel is known as a “crumplezone” – bad safety. But the i30 is of a whole new generation, you can tell they’ve been looking at the design of Opel, Mazda, Volkswagen, Ford… the 2008+ models have a 5 star ANCAP (safety) rating which is top-notch. I hadn’t driven one yet, but at the first testdrive I was sold. Very nice. So, within a day I had a “new” car – I don’t mess about! ;-)

I’m still re-adjusting to the manual gears (the Outback was an automatic) but I’d learnt in manuals so fundamentally I do know how to do it and my license allows. More on the diesel and fuel economy in a following post.