That veggie oil car could get you into trouble in US

Know somebody in America running a vehicle on vegetable oil? New or used, it doesn't matter, that fuel is not government approved.

Know somebody in America running a vehicle on vegetable oil? New or used, it doesn't matter, that fuel is not government approved. Apparently the EPA could crack down on canola-burners and slap on some pretty hefty fines.

It's not just the Feds who are against using veggie oil in a vehicle. One man in Illinois fell afoul of the revenuers in his own state. And then the state legislature tried to come to his rescue. The case of the 79 year-old veggie oil scofflaw from Decatur remains unresolved at this time.

If you decide to go veggie diesel despite the regulators, here's a site, Greasecar, that will sell you a conversion, kit.. In their FAQ, no mention of the legal issues involved in going fryer-waste for your fuel. So I gave 'em a call. The guy I spoke with at Greasecar--they actually answered their phone--said they are in open communication with the EPA. Greasecar advises its customers to check with the proper state agency that taxs fuel.

Some Greasecar drivers actually voluntarily pay fuel taxes to state and fed agencies even though there is no formal mechanism to tax such vegetable oils, much of which are recycled directly from restaurants and food processors. The Greasecar Guy says that the vegetable oil system is technically illegal because the fuel is untaxed but he surmises the EPA is not too fussed because there are so few veggie oil vehicles in America. Wikipedia states point blank: it's illegal. Like marijuana laws, there are some states more liberal on used cafe fry-up than others: Pennsylvania and Arkansas don't care if you light up, they're tax-exempting you, as long as it's vegetable oil you're burning.

Here's Greasecar's claim about emissions from burning used, filtered veggie oils: "There is no sulfur content in vegetable oil which eliminates the first major carcinogen associated with diesel fuel. Vegetable oil plants absorb more carbon dioxide from the air during their growing cycle than is released when the oil is burned, this means that vegetable oil does not produce excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (this is referred to as carbon neutral). Due to a slightly cooler burn some studies have shown NOX reductions when burning vegetable oil. More studies are underway and results will vary depending on engine and tuning. As a sulfur free, bio-mass fuel vegetable oil emissions are less harmful to the environment and less toxic to people and animals."

Wouldn't it be an improvement if our suburban aired smelled more like French fries, less like gasoline fumes?