How to Run a Car on Vegetable Oil on the West Coast

June 5th, 2020 |  Blog
Collection of vegetable oil bottles

As awareness about the environmental impacts of fossil fuels increases, more people are looking for alternative energy sources that are kinder to our ecosystems. Some creative solutions have been found – solar power, methanol, and even liquid hydrogen, to name a few. But one of the most viable alternatives is vegetable oil, which can be processed into fuel powerful enough to operate heavy machinery.

On the West Coast, SeQuential is the longest-operating commercial biodiesel producer and has perfected the art of transforming used cooking oil into biodiesel. We explain how cars can run on used cooking oil after it’s been processed into an environmentally friendly biodiesel.

Is Biodiesel Good Fuel?

If your vehicle has a diesel engine, then it can burn biodiesel made from used cooking oil without needing any engine modifications. By itself, however, pure vegetable oil is not a viable fuel and is much more viscous than diesel. In short, this means that it’s thicker and stickier than diesel, so it doesn’t flow as cleanly and will give the engine a hard time burning it all effectively. Pure vegetable oil can then build up in the engine, interfering with the flow of fuel and leading to stalling or burnout.

Turning Used Cooking Oil into Fuel

Luckily, there are ways to turn used cooking oil into a clean-burning, effective fuel that won’t damage your engine. This method is called transesterification, during which a chemical compound called an ester (used cooking oil) is mixed with alcohol. In addition, a small catalyst – usually sodium chloride – is used to kick-start the process.

When transesterification is complete, two substances remain. One is methyl ester, which is the technical term for Biodiesel fuel. The other is a new alcohol, glycerin, which can be filtered out and used for other purposes. SeQuential uses a complex process and distributes our biodiesel throughout the West Coast.

Benefits of Biodiesel

Once you process used cooking oil into biodiesel, it becomes an effective and safe fuel that doesn’t damage your car’s engine. It also comes with a host of benefits over traditional petroleum. Not only is it more accessible, but it’s also better than petroleum in several other ways, including:

  • It’s less toxic. This makes it safer for workers and drivers to use, and safe for the environment.
  • It’s cleaner-burning. Biodiesel burns more cleanly than petroleum diesel. In fact, pure biodiesel produces up to 75% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and particulates.
  • It needs less transportation. Biodiesel is being produced domestically, so less fuel is consumed – and less gas emitted – by transporting the feedstock or finished fuel.
  • It reduces waste. Many feedstocks can be used, including used cooking oil from homes, restaurants, and cafeterias.
  • It’s renewable. Unlike petroleum, which is a fossil fuel and a limited resource, biodiesel can be made from used cooking oil, which is renewable and reliable.

Switch to Biodiesel Today

It is possible to run a vehicle on cooking oil – if you process it into biodiesel first. As a renewable and clean-burning alternative to petroleum, biodiesel is paving the way to a healthier planet with more sustainable fuel practices. If you plan to make the switch, consider SeQuential for your biodiesel needs. We recycle used cooking  oil and process it into eco-friendly biodiesel for West Coast drivers. To find out more, contact us today.