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December 21, 2010 > Ind. man uses vegetable oil instead of diesel fuel

Ind. man uses vegetable oil instead of diesel fuel

Submitted By AP Wire Service
By Laura Lane, The Herald-Times

CATARACT, Ind. (AP), Dec 16 _ When Curt Carey became curious about using vegetable oil in the place of diesel fuel, he did not own a car or truck with a diesel engine. That stifled his ability to experiment.

So five years ago, the Owen County man set out to find a suitable vehicle. Cheap. Driving down the road one day, he spotted a big old black Ford dually truck, the kind with double tires on the back.

``I bought the conversion kit for $1,200 and bought the cheapest diesel vehicle I could find, and it happened to be an old 1992 dually I stopped and looked at and bought for about $2,000,'' he said. ``It has a lot of miles on it. The guy that had it used it to tow mini barns all over.''

Carey installed the conversion kit, which included a 40-gallon oil tank in the truck bed. Such tanks use antifreeze-filled lines or in-line heaters to warm the oil, thinning its consistency. ``It has to be 170 degrees before it hits the injection pump,'' Carey explained.

He gets about 15 miles to the gallon.

Carey retrieves his oil, called WVO (waste vegetable oil) in the alternative fuel world, 20 gallons or so at a time from restaurants in and around Spencer. He admits that when the oil gets hot and starts flowing through the motor, his truck smells like a deep-fryer on wheels.

``The guys at work call it the french-fry truck, and say they can smell me coming down the road,'' Carey said. He's used to it.

And doesn't mind. He recently bought a 1985 Mercedes diesel sedan and is converting it over to vegetable oil fuel as well. Before the weather turned cold, it was running just fine on it. Now, he has to install a heater in the system to make the oil more liquid.

For the system to work best, he also has diesel fuel tanks on the vehicles and uses that fuel when he starts down the road as the WVO heats up and also during the last half mile or so of driving so it's diesel fuel left in the distribution lines.

Carey admits that collecting oil that's fried food items ranging from hash browns to won tons is work. He sets out with his truck and special diesel pump and sucks the used oil right out of storage vats at restaurants that are happy to see the accumulated grease disappear.

``It's almost like a part-time job,'' he said. ``But it's worth it. As far as by-products, it's just kicking out water and carbon dioxide, so it's not so bad for the environment. I like that.''

A Dec. 1 fire that destroyed the garage at his Locust Lake cabin has temporarily shut down Carey's vegetable oil fuel operation. A wood stove fire spread to tanks storing the filtered oil, and he and his wife lost everything they had in the garage, including the tanks and filters that purify the oil.

But he hopes to get back in the alternative fuel business. In the weeks before the fire, he was experimenting with different mixes of biofuel, which could be used without expensive engine conversions.

``I was going to start mixing little batches in glass jars to see what percent of diesel to mix with the bio additive to test different mixtures,'' he said. ``I was getting ready to do that when the fire happened.''

___

Information from: The Herald Times,
http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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