Tag Archives: Biodiesel

Yay for labour-saving devices

I’m proud of conquering one annoying detail of life.

I was fed up with the funnel.

Every time I filled up with biodiesel before, it’s been an awkward dance with a dripping funnel, best executed with two people, at worst balanced with a couple of cold fingers and at least one fatiguing arm muscle balancing the jug and waiting for it ever so slowly to empty.

I got the plumbing parts at a growing supply store for <$8, and the only glitch was that the fitting inside the lid was too big and I had to grind it down for it to make a seal.

But now, the whole operation is dripless, super fast, and streamlined. No more funnel!

My DIY device doesn’t have a breather, but the containers the biodiesel comes in are flexible, so the sides suck in and they still empty into the tank in a few seconds. Easy and expeditious.

Now running bio is just that much more pleasant, and the semi-virtuous mixed feelings about driving continue.

No one can put biodiesel in the tank without smiling:)

Biodiesel in the Kootenays

Winter driving

It’s starting to get cold.  The snow line is creeping down the mountains, making me think of snowboarding.  Temps are hovering between minus and plus 3 at night, and that means my relationship to driving will soon change.

At minus 10 and below, it’s too cold for biodiesel without a fuel tank heater, and the vegetable oil starts to gel.  So, it has to be blended with normal diesel.  Half and half even, in deep winter and going over passes.  Alberta is out of the question.

The other day I put in the first $10 of normal diesel since the summer, and that made me think about my driving habits again.  Driving biodiesel is not totally “clean”- driving at all has an impact, and the more miles you put on means petroleum products galore: oil changes and fluids and tires and maintenance – but it’s better, and for a little while I hardly thought twice about driving when I wanted to.  Putting nasty normal diesel in the tank means assessing the importance of every kilometer again and spending more energy hitchhiking and ridesharing.

Sigh.

It was fun while it lasted.  I swear, that must have been how it felt like 50 years ago, when gas was cheap and the road was fun to drive on, just to fly.  No one goes for Sunday drives anymore.  Gas matters.  It’s expensive and fraught with moral implications and we spend so much time driving because we have to that it’s ceased to be fun.

Biodiesel!

Unreasonably excited about the first fill-up with Bio!

It went like this.  I asked everyone I thought of, “where can you get biodiesel around here?”.  Anyone driving diesels, when I was hitchhiking, anyone who looked vaguely alternative.  Most people knew where Bio used to be available,  and a few people said “there’s someone in the valley making it.”  But no one knew more than that.  Then one person had a name. “There’s a guy in the valley making it.  I think his name’s Chris.”  Then a couple more people also knew his first name.  Still, not enough to go on.

On my way through the valley with a friend to go to the hot springs, we stopped at the health food store for halvah and to ask about Bio.  “oh yeah, I think his name’s Chris Summers.  And here’s a phone book”  Waahahaha (the sound of sunbeams parting clouds)

We were at his house in minutes.  A dollar a litre, here’s a funnel.  This family is so fully in production, with 1000s of litres ready to go,  it’s astonishing to me that so few people for so long could put me in touch with him.  FYI for locals- phone book under Vallican, and he’s in the Pennywise.  You can buy 5 gallon containers to go, and he visits Nelson weekly to exchange empties for fulls, so it really couldn’t be easier.

I was absolutely ecstatic to pour Bio in the tank for the first time. That’s what I got this truck for, after all.  Felt so good and freeing, to be at the end of a recycling loop, instead of counting km and feeling answerable for every one in terms of global cost.  Do I really need to drive this today?  Total weight off my mind to finally find my source!

It seemed to me the needle was moving more slowly, too, but I’ll have to run a few tanks scientifically to know for sure.