June 15, 2005
What many recognize as the distinct odor of a diesel engine may soon be a thing of the past with the advent of a new technology: biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a new type of fuel that utilizes vegetable oil instead of, or in addition to, petroleum. “It smells like french fries instead of diesel,” said John Alley, owner of Clem’s Country Store.
For the past month, Clem’s has been selling a type of biodiesel know as B20 — 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. “Just running B20 reduces emissions by about half,” Alley said.
But biodiesel, which goes for about $2.40 at Clem’s, has been a slow-growing business. “I’ve only sold about 475 gallons in the past month,” said Alley. “People are interested in it, but some are afraid to try it until they’ve read up on it. Most manufacturers won’t honor warrantees if you’ve run biodiesel through your car.”
Alley trusts the biodiesel, though. In fact, he trusts it so much that he runs B100 — 100 percent biodiesel — through his vehicles. “I’m not afraid,” he said.
Right now, the biodiesel technology is only readily usable for diesel engines, although there is research behind ethanol-based fuel for other types of engines.
Alley stated that he would eventually like to sell B100, but the biodiesel manufacturers don’t recommend it right away. “It’s better to run B20 for a while to let it gradually clean your car’s system,” he said.