Saturday, July 12, 2008

Used Vegetable Oil in Diesel Engines

In the time I lived at the Gowri Chitra Gardens, right next door to the Vadapalani Bus Terminus I came to despise the filthy smoke put out by the State Transport Corporation buses right through the day. I would wait for it to be night and for the bus service to end so that the noise and the smoke would stop. Well, here is something that could be used to reduce pollution on our buses and also reduce the cost of bus travel, provided the government does it right: use recycled vegetable oil to drive the buses. Cheap public transport in these days of sky high fuel costs would make more people stop using their cars and bikes and reduce pollution even further, leave alone make the State Transport Corporations more profitable and the air smelling cleaner. I kid you not - try to smell a vehicle being run on recycled vegetable oil. It smells like your grandmother frying vadais.

Now, my dilemma is, how do we get the chowderheads who rule the various South Asian countries to watch these videos and get their brains running enough to collect and use used cooking oil to run buses? Oh well, this is a beginning . . . This is a Mythbusters video where the Mythbusters experiment with filtered vegetable oil in a diesel car This is the first part of a BBC Top Gear video on using used vegetable oil, but here it is processed before being used One week after adding the solvent, the BBC's motor mouth Jeremy Clarkson tests an old Volvo with the used vegetable oil. Sadly, the BBC's usual incompetence shows on Youtube where they have not bothered to upload the whole video. if you thought India's Doordarshan were a bunch of jokers, the BBC is a thousand times worse! My regards, though, to whoever posted this as it somewhat completes the episode that the BBC chowderheads begin on Youtube before sitting back to warm their collective cushions with their arses like they do. This is a video put up by a Canadian who makes biodiesel from used vegetable oil at home. Those who are technically inclined could try and set something like this up. That said, there are several kits available for the non technical types from companies in the USA and Brazil though there is no reason why they should not be assembled by a company in India that wants to offer these. They look simple enough even to a completely non-technical person like me. This company is Canada's largest manufacturer of biodiesel for ccommercial sale and the Chairman was interviewed on Shal TV, a Canadian channel at: Some very interesting insights here though some of the extreme cold that the Canadians experience would not be a problem in South Asia. This is a lecture on the safety aspects of biodiesel etc at a seminar in Oregon:

There is a caveat, though. Some companies in the West are using cooking oil to make biodiesel without using it to fry anything first. This is criminal. On the other hand, there are technologies for using certain non food plants like hemp (ganja for us Indians) or certain types of algae (the filthy green stuff in our sewage carrying rivers) to make biodiesel.

We have some of the world's best engineers in our IITs and other engineering colleges. And Indians have a way of making their voices heard wit their votes. Our neighbors in South Asia also do much the same that we do. Any suggestions, now, on how to drum this and other sounds into the ears of our selectively common-sense-deaf policymakers?


MK said...

Indian Railways introduced used vegetable oil/diesel mix to power the Niligiri mountain railway train.They are willing to start using this bio-diesel mix for all the trains still requiring diesel engines.According to a recent Times of India(Chennai edition)report they are not able to get used vegetable oil in sufficient quantities to make this project feasible,though they are ready to install tanks for this purpose in hotels and eateries.The plant that railways has to recycle the used oil is under utilised at present.

Mehul Kamdar said...

I am sure that the railways would find some excuse to tell the world why they are not using recycled vegetable oil. Frankly, I find the suggestion that they cannot find supplies of it ludicrous. If they were to make an offer to buy this in quantity, there are enough eateries around the Central Station in Chennai itself selling bajjis and other fried stuff that could sell small quantities of used cooking oil. As it is, the bulk of this goes down the Cooum . . .