Biodiesel Cars Ethanol

Switching to biodiesel, part I

Back in February, Braughm gave me the idea to try out biodiesel. Pretty soon thereafter, I decided that I want to switch my primary car over to a renewable fuel. This has taken a little bit of research, which I’d like to share here.

Step 1 was to pick a fuel.

My requirements

Replace my primary car (a 1993 Volvo Wagon) with a car that runs on a renewable fuel. I’d like to be able to get the fuel without going way out of my way. If I’m stuck somewhere without renewable fuel, I’d like to be able to use “normal” gas or diesel as a backup. And while I’m at it, I’d like to get a smaller car that’s a little bit more convenient for around San Francisco. The cost of the fuel is not a huge factor for me (because I don’t drive that much and won’t mind paying extra if it’s better for the planet). The cost of the car is a factor, because I don’t want to invest a lot in a car that might not be the best alternative fuel choice in 2-3 years.

The requirement to be able to use widely available fuel as a backup pretty quickly narrowed my choices to ethanol or biodiesel, which can be run alongside regular gasoline or diesel respectively.

Biodiesel Ethanol

Biofuel update

Interesting article on Brazil’s rapid reduction of oil dependence thanks to ethanol: New York Times

Great and thorough presentation on ethanol by Vinod Khosla (found on Infectious Greed):

A couple of things I’m curious about and haven’t been able to find the answers for:

  • How do ethanol and biodiesel stack up against each other (Khosla briefly touches on this saying that over time ethanol will be more land use efficient)?
  • Can existing gasoline cars be retrofitted to become flex fuel and work with Ethanol?