Make your own biodiesel fuel and save big money

A man is creating dry biodiesel.

Make your own biodiesel fuel and save a bundle. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Chemistryland)

Gasoline prices are out of control, prompting more consumers to consider alternative fuels. For diesel vehicle owners, biodiesel is an environmentally conscious option that costs less than $1 per gallon. Biodiesel fuel can even be made at home. While there are pros and cons to the process, it’s hard to deny that running a diesel vehicle on biofuel is cheaper in the long run than gasoline.

Biodiesel requires a diesel car and production kit

Your vehicle must have a diesel engine in order to take advantage of biodiesel fuel, and you’ll need some equipment to make biodiesel. Bankrate writes that several companies offer do-it-yourself biodiesel kits, ranging in price from $400 to $5,000, depending upon the quantity of biodiesel you want to produce, pump and store at one time. Thankfully, the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit can make up for up to 30 percent of the cost of making biodiesel fuel at your primary residence. Remember that for your 2011 taxes.

Putting the bio in biodiesel

The time required to make the fuel can be as little as a few hours, depending upon the production kit used. The big question is what suitable organic substance you’ll use to make biodiesel fuel. Soybean oil is most commonly used in the U.S., although any old yellow grease taken from cooking oil will work. Get friendly with your local greasy spoon restaurants and they may let you haul away their grease for free.

The only caveat to this path is that restaurant grease may be too dirty to produce the highest-functioning biodiesel fuel. Impure biodiesel can also expose your gas tank to bacteria, mold and fungus and can end up costing thousands of dollars to repair. The more expensive production kits filter out impurities, but of course you have to pay more for the most efficient kits. The purest biodiesel is B100 or B99. That means the fuel is 100 or 99 percent biodiesel, with the rest being petroleum diesel, says Bankrate. However, an 80/20 mix may be less likely to clog your fuel injectors if you live in a colder climate. Consult with your automaker if you’re unsure of which mix to use.

Cost on percentage

How much you save using biodiesel fuel instead of standard petroleum diesel depends in part upon the mix. If you’re able to obtain free soybean or cooking grease, production costs should ideally average out to about 70 cents per gallon for the other required ingredients specified by your production kit. As stated above, equipment will cost extra. But it beats living with high gasoline prices.


How Stuff Works

Journey to Forever

More on making biodiesel fuel

Other recent posts by bryanh