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Proud Mary Keep on Burnin'—Biodiesel, That Is

6/29/2005 12:00:00 AM

Tags: diesel, hybrid, biodiesel

In last week's 'Evil Women' entry, I shared a letter from Mary Jackson in Lincoln, Nebraska, who was shopping for a new vehicle. Here is some advice from two Natural Home & Garden readers:

Dear Robyn, 

I would suggest that Mary Jackson in Lincoln Nebraska consider purchasing the diesel-powered pickup truck of her dreams and then run Biodiesel in it instead of petroleum diesel. She can find out if there are suppliers of Biodiesel in her area by searching at If it is available in her area, she can haul all the cat litter and plywood she wants, in a vehicle that suits her needs, gets great gas mileage compared to gas-powered trucks and creates little to no pollution. Plus instead of supporting polluting, imported oil, she'll be supporting her local farmers who grow soy beans and other oil crops that go into the production of the fuel. 

It's a win-win solution for her, the farmers, and the planet. 

Biodiesel is widely used in Europe, it can be used in any diesel vehicle (although an older vehicle will need to have the fuel lines upgraded and possibly the fuel tank cleaned out.) I personally use it in my 2002 VW Golf, and 1980 and 1981 VW Pickup trucks. I can tell you that I feel great every time I drive, knowing that I am treading gently on this earth. 

Best regards and many, many thanks for your beautiful and inspiring magazine! 

Nancy Pennington
Richardson, TX

A second reader responds:

First off, it doesn't matter how much you love the earth; we all are unfortunately victims of the circumstance of capitalism. When my last car died, a 1995 Mitsubishi Galant, I wanted nothing more than to purchase a hybrid. However, I couldn't afford one, so I settled on an economical car that gets decent mileage. I take comfort in the fact that I make it a point to live close enough to work that I can walk or bike and try to take the bus otherwise--when prudent. 

Those of you who are trying to do the right thing, I hear you out there! You are not alone. I want a hybrid too! 

However, there is the possible solution of getting a diesel vehicle (used) and purchasing a biodiesel converter. It's a thought. I don't know if that is practical, but you'd definitely be able to find a diesel truck to do your hauling. 

And to those of you who have hybrids that are no longer meeting your needs, please hurry up and sell them already! Some of us want to purchase them from you! 

Alexis Bloom

Consult 'Home, Home, on the Road' (July/August 2004) for a listing of alternative fuels sources (page 2).

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t brandt
4/16/2011 9:39:59 AM
There's really only one way to adjust your fuel consumption to help the environment: drive less. A few eclectic facts about automotive energy: --1/3rd of the US corn crop is now turned to EtOH for fuel. If the entire crop went into alcohol, it would save only about 2% of the world's annual oil demand. You can save 10% by keeping your tires properly inflated. And why turn food to fuel when there's people starving? --saving co2 production with an electric car depends on where your electricity comes from: nuclear or hydro- sources, of course, produce zero co2. But if you live where the juice comes from coal, you would add 1000 moles co2 to the air in driving a Chevy Volt 100 miles, but only 800 moles co2 with a gas engine getting 25mpg. --and it's always cheaper to keep an old car in good repair than to buy a new car. Aclunker getting 15mpg driven 8000 mi/yr only burns 100 gal more (ie-~$400 more)per year than a new one @35mpg, but costing you $300-500 a month, every month.

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