Climate change is a concern across the globe. But here at home, some drivers are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. They are running vehicles on used cooking oil!
Having worked for UNBC’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and the David Suzuki Foundation, Kyle Aben knows a thing or two about green technology. UNBC’s cafeteria donated its leftover grease; he puts it through several gravity-powered filters. The process eliminates any microscopic food particles and contaminants that could harm the vehicle. The car starts on diesel, then once it’s warm, can be switched over to run entirely on oil. In the 3 years since he installed the system in his Volkswagon Jetta, Aben has racked up 80,000 kilometres, keeping 9 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere, and saving around $3700 in fuel.
Now, Aben is spreading the word. Local businessman Peter Stevenson first heard about cooking oil as a gasoline alternative, when he welcomed UNBC students from the Carbon Management program to take a look at his business. Stevenson operates PS Piano Service; they suggested he consider making the switch. Cooking oil pollutes the air less than petroleum-based products.
But – it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The City of Prince George used to use biodeisel in its fleet, but started phasing it out 5 years ago when it led to some mechanical problems. It’s important to do some research before making the switch. Aben says in Prince George it’s easy to find restaurants willing to donate their used vegetable oil, but it takes some dedication to build and operate a filtration system. He suggests talking to people with similar vehicles to yours, as the fuel system works differently in cars and trucks.