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One of the more eye-catching headlines nationally yesterday (Oct. 9) read something like this: “Vehicle Owner Drove Veggie-Powered Bus Cross-Country,” according to a Turnto10.com website posting out of Providence, R.I.
Since there are more Wendy’s, McDonalds and other fast food eateries than there are gas stations, the article reasons, it’s a good thing when your transportation is powered by waste vegetable oil.
Don’t try this at home.
“An RV (recreational vehicle), like any diesel engine, will run on vegetable oil if you heat the oil and feed it to the engine when it’s hot,” said Steve Adler whose RV runs on vegetable oil.
Dirty vegetable oil, sucked out of the dumpsters of fast food restaurants with a hose, is pumped through a filter, heated and fed to the diesel engine. “A diesel engine will run on just about any fluid you give it,” Adler said. “Kerosene, motor oil, transmission fluid. I happen to like vegetable oil because it’s free and it smells good.”
It’s not completely diesel-free, though. Adler’s recreational vehicle does need a kick of diesel to get started. But once the engine gets heated, it switches over to the vegetable oil. “Unless you’re looking at it, you really don’t know,” Adler said. “You just look over, it’s green, you say, ‘We’re on veggie.’ And if you’re behind me, you can smell french fries.’
There were lots of people driving behind Adler when he drove the vegetable-powered bus cross country. He bought the RV on eBay, then flew to Oregon to pick it up. He had it converted to run on vegetable oil in Seattle, and then made the coast-to-coast trek with his family.
It was a risky adventure that paid off. “It almost paid for itself on the trip back,” Adler said. “At five miles per gallon at $3, $3.50 a gallon for diesel, it adds up quickly.”