Where are the French Fries? Reducing the Carbon Footprint for Cars

by ‐ Tags: green living


Have you been driving on the highway and suddenly been overcome with the smell of French fries?  You look around and there isn’t a McDonalds in sight.  You scratch your head because it just doesn’t make sense; there are no restaurants around.  Chances are you are driving behind a car that runs on Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO).   In the past several years, SVO cars have emerged as an alternative to fuel-efficient and hybrid cars further reducing the carbon footprint for cars.

SVO and biodiesel cars are built with a typical diesel engine. Using a conversion kit these diesel cars can be converted to run off of SVO.  It should be noted that even after the conversion and also with biodiesel, the car can still run on conventional diesel.

SVO and Biodiesel cars are similar - both use vegetable oil for fuel, yet biodiesel and SVO cars have a few differences.   First, in order to use SVO, a conversion kit must be installed in the diesel car.  The conversation kit is primarily comprised of a heating tank, which brings the SVO to the temperature needed to flow through the fuel system.  This is especially important on cool days when the SVO, if too cold, will clog the fuel system.  Second, to create SVO from vegetable oil requires little augmentation for use; there are many filtration systems that are available for home use. Biodiesel, while it does not require any adjustments to the diesel system, does require a complex chemical alteration process to prepare the fuel.  Therefore, owners of biodiesel cars must rely on gas stations that carry biodiesel.

SVO and Biodiesel cars are often hailed as the most environmentally friendly cars on the road. Even though the hybrid car carbon footprint is low, SVO and Biodiesel cars produce significantly fewer emissions and do not rely on the dwindling supply of fossil fuels. 

So, what are you waiting for?

A few drawbacks:

1. In the US it can be challenging to find a diesel car.  Mercedes, and Volkswagen are two of the larger manufacturers of diesel engine cars in the US, yet there are rumors that Mazda, BMW, Chevrolet and Jeep will be coming out with diesel cars and SUV’s in the coming year.  With these additions to the market, diesel cars should be more readily accessible in the near future. 

2. It can be difficult to find biodiesel, SVO or even conventional diesel.  When planning a trip, drivers need to cognizant of the location of biodiesel pumps.   For SVO cars, the challenge is similar.  Because the SVO requires a supply of vegetable oil, owners must carry the oils with them, connect with SVO car owners willing to share their supply, or plan to use traditional diesel.

3. Obtaining vegetable oil can be a challenge.  Virgin vegetable oil consumption has received some criticism as agricultural resources (land, etc.) are being used for fuel production rather than food production.   Many people, then, turn to spent vegetable oil which can be found at local restaurants.  Until recently restaurants had a difficult time disposing of their spent oil and were happy to give it to SVO car owners.  Yet with the growing demand for biodiesel, many companies are purchasing spent oil to commercially convert to biodiesel thereby reducing the supply for SVO car owner.

Will your next car be a Veggie Car?