Hemp Bio-Fueled Cars? The Benefits?
Biodiesel is a vegetable oil-based fuel that runs in unmodified diesel engines – cars, buses, trucks, construction equipment, boats, generators, and oil home heating units. Biodiesel is usually made from hemp, soy or canola oil, and can also be made from recycled fryer oil (yes, from McDonalds or your local Chinese restaurant) or any other vegetable oil or animal tallow.
You can blend biodiesel with regular diesel or run 100% biodiesel. You can blend your percentages of biodiesel-to-diesel fuel at any ratio, at any time. This means you can be running b100 (100% biodiesel), get down to a quarter tank and add regular petroleum diesel and essentially be running b25 (25% biodiesel), then get down to near empty and add straight petroleum, straight biodiesel, or any percentage in between.
What are the benefits?
1) National security. Since biodiesel is made domestically, biodiesel reduces our dependence on foreign oil. That’s good.
2) National economy. Using biodiesel keeps our fuel buying dollars at home instead of sending it to foreign countries. This reduces our trade deficit and creates jobs.
3) Its sustainable & non-toxic. Biodiesel is 100% renewable… we’ll never run out of biodiesel. And if biodiesel gets into your water supply, there’s no problem – it’s just modified veggie oil! Heck, you can drink biodiesel if you so desire, but it tastes nasty (trust us).
4) Emissions. Biodiesel is nearly carbon-neutral, meaning it contributes almost zero emissions to global warming! Biodiesel also dramatically reduces other emissions fairly dramatically. We like clean air, how about you? Plus, the exhaust smells like popcorn or french fries!
5) Engine life. Studies have shown biodiesel reduces engine wear by as much as one half, primarily because biodiesel provides excellent lubricity. Even a 2% biodiesel/98% diesel blend will help.
6) Drivability. We have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t notice an immediate smoothing of the engine with biodiesel. Biodiesel just runs quieter, and produces less smoke.
Are there any negatives?
Of course. There is no perfect fuel.
1) Primarily that biodiesel is not readily available in much of the nation, although availability has jumped considerably in the last five years. Commercial consumption of biodiesel jumped from 500,000 gallons in 2000 to 15 million gallons in 2001 to 75 million gallons in 2006. And there’s no measure how much home-produced biodiesel there is.
2) Biodiesel will clean your injectors and fuel lines. If you have an old diesel vehicle, there’s a chance that your first few tanks of biodiesel could free up all the accumulated crud and clog your fuel filter. But this is a GOOD thing… think of it as kicking up dust around the house when you clean.
3) Biodiesel has a higher gel point. B100 (100% biodiesel) gets slushy a little under 32°F. But B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% regular diesel – more commonly available than B100) has a gel point of -15°F. Like regular diesel, the gel point can be lowered further with additives such as kerosene (blended into winter diesel in cold-weather areas).
4) Old vehicles (older than mid-90s) might require upgrades of fuel lines (a cheap, easy upgrade), as biodiesel can eat through certain types of rubber. Almost all new vehicles should have no problem with biodiesel.
5) Finally, the one emission that goes up with biodiesel is NOx. NOx contributes to smog. We feel that a slight increase (up to 15%) in NOx is greatly offset by the reduction in all other emissions and the major reduction in greenhouse gasses.