Corn Power

How to Make and Use Biodiesel

How about those gas prices, eh? Expensive enough for you? I remember a few years ago, when the price of gasoline dipped below $1 per gallon. Gas was so cheap I used to keep my car running all night in case I needed it in a hurry. Now, it regularly costs more than $45 to fill the tank of my Camry, and at least that car gets decent mileage. Those of us who went wild during the Hummer craze and bought one of those gas guzzlers are really feeling the pinch right now . . . though it's a little hard to empathize with people who practice such conspicuous consumption.

It seems the mass adoption of alternative fuel sources might still be some time away, but there is something the more mechanically inclined among us can do. Converting your engine to run off biodiesel, which utilizes recycled vegetable oil to produce energy, can save a lot of cash at the pump. Many restaurants are willing to just give the stuff away, since it can be a hassle to dispose of properly, and it burns far cleaner than petroleum-based fuels as well—though you will get your hands dirty. Cheaper for you; better for the environment—everybody wins.

Trouble is, overhauling your car's entire fuel system can be a little daunting for the neophyte. The Solar Living Institute's upcoming workshop at Cal Poly Pomona aims to demystify the process a bit and bills itself as a hands-on workshop for the beginner. The class will teach you how to make the fuel, how to maintain your vehicle, and how a biodiesel processor works. Should OPEC decide we're just too much of a hassle to work with, you'll be glad you learned.

How to Make and Use Biodiesel at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, CalPoly Pomona, 4105 W. University Dr., Pomona, (909) 869-5155; www.solarliving.org . Mon., 9 a.m. $120.

 
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