Wednesday 12 November 2008

Company cars

Now that Kenny and I are both running our cars on waste vegetable oil, it shows a company really can have a carbon neutral transport policy without using offsetting.

Most "environmentally friendly" cars are not carbon neutral, although many are better for the environment than the petrol and diesel equivalent.

I don't believe that carbon offsetting is good for the environment - it is just a way to "pass the buck" without doing anything constructive yourself.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Summary of first few days

Here are some notes from the first few days of the journey. Kenny couldn't post them earlier because he had problems with his laptop.

Day 1: Long drive to Speyer in Germany

Day 2: Hung around and went to a Micro Brewery that brewed Weiss Bier - it was wicked! On the way home bumped into some German students who were about 16 years old and hanging in a Roman Church (better than the British Bus Stop!). They had earlier in the day taken their English Vocabulary exam, so they wanted to show off their English Skills. Very funny night and strolled back to camp at 4.30am.

Day 3: With very little sleep drove to Austria. The scenery was incredible, drove through a valley in the Alps and surrounded by Lakes. Arrived in Zell Am and stayed by the waters edge. That evening we were desperate to find something to do as it was pretty out of the way and we came out of campsite and walked 2km to find a bar.

Day 4: We learnt if we had walked the other way there was a Beer Festival only 500 yards away. D'oh! Anthony did his early morning run in the Alps as he is in training for a 1/2 marathon and raising money for a Nottinghamshire Hospice.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Stewing in Croatia

Kenny is in Croatia now - They arrived in Omiš yesterday, powered by vegetable oil.

He had mounted a cooking pot on the exhaust manifold so he could cook dinner as he drove, which worked up to a point. He cooked a nice vegetable stew in it but later the mounting broke, so they will have to resort to more conventional cooking facilities.

Friday 15 August 2008


I had a message from Kenny this morning to say he is in Speyer in Germany.
He can't pick up any legal Internet connections with his wok-fi at the moment, so he asked me to post this for him.

The car is running fine, but the fuel consumption is impaired by of the roof box and extra weight. There's an electrical problem which means that occasionally the windows and sun roof open by themselves. When it is raining that is quite refreshing - just what he needs to keep him awake after getting very little sleep last night.

Sunday 10 August 2008


I have now finished making the WokFi antenna booster for the wifi dongle. £1 for the wok strainer.

Initial tests show its a great success. Using the device from my window I can pickup 6 access points when I normally only get 1, mine. Should be able to blog from anywhere now !

Friday 8 August 2008

Almost ready for the next big trip

Modifications to the 300td have been going well. Its now running well and ready to take us over to Croatia again on the 14th August. Not long now !!

I have replaced all the fuel lines with clear pvc ones so I can have full confidence and can see what's going on. I have also mounted a pressure cooker to the side of the engine (above the exhaust manifold) so in theory we can cook food as we drive along. I am having trouble getting the pot up to temperature due to the cold air coming in from the front but I hope to have that sorted by the time we leave by shielding it.

The route will be similar to last time although we will be staying a couple of days in the black forest in order to sample more of the weissbiers. And we don't plan to stay in Belgium or Austria.

In Croatia Last time, due to weather issues, we mainly stayed in Zadar and the inland parts of Croatia. This time we will be checking out the Croatian part of Istria. Its had an interesting history and been part of many countries over the years. The varied influences apparently go to make it quite unique.:-

From there we plan to head right down the coast down to Split and Dubrovnik. We had planned to get to Montenegro but the vegetable oil laws are proving hard to find. We may park up and walk across the border.

We are taking a laptop so blogging should be a bit easier. I am also making up a homebrew 'wok-fi' antenna for finding access points, more details of wok-fi can be found here :-

Here is a very rough idea of the route out. Once we get to Istria we will take our time exploring the coast.

Friday 1 August 2008

BBC Panorama / comparison with electric cars

I just saw an episode of Panorama that was first broadcast last week.
They took an electric G-Wiz up the strip at Santa Pod, a similar idea to what we did a few weeks ago with my vegetable oil car.

I bet mine was a lot quicker than the G-Wiz, although they didn't show their time.
My car is also a lot better for the environment and cheaper, which is what the TV program was about.

My car runs on a waste product (cooking oil) which was going to be disposed of in a way that produces carbon dioxide. Instead of disposing of it that way, I collect it, filter it and put it into my car. In the Santa Pod example, I dispose of the waste by turning it into carbon dioxide whilst also accelerating along a quarter mile track from a standing start. No more carbon dioxide is produced than if I had not intervened in the process. I pick up the waste oil from restaurants using my car, so there's no source of net carbon there either, and there is no cost.

The G-Wiz runs on electricity which comes from the National Grid. A large proportion of electricity in the National Grid comes from fossil fuels, which is a separate problem that I'd like to see addressed. If you plug your G-Wiz into a wind turbine, then well done - you've found a good way to power your vehicle (albeit very slowly, over a short range). If you plug it into your home power supply, then you are responsible for adding extra load to a stretched grid, burning fossil fuels, emitting carbon dioxide and costing yourself money - you are just doing it in a way that isn't immediately obvious.

Friday 18 July 2008

Vegmobile mkII finally arrives.

Kenny here,
Since arriving back from the Croatia trip I have been on the lookout for an estate merc to run off veg oil and take back out to Europe. Finally after seeing many go way above of my price range or have problems with the expensive to fix self-leveling-suspension I have now bought a lovely 300td, which is sitting outside. Its running off vegetable oil as it is but I will be fitting the mothercare mod and bypassing the fuel thermostat. I also have a plate heat exchanger so will do some heat tests with and without to see how much difference it makes. The w124 is very similar mechanically to the 190d so I already know the car pretty well.
The car has done an amazing 380k miles and to listen to the engine you simple wouldn't believe it. The steering components are showing their age,I have replaced the steering pump and will need to do the box at some point in the future. It needs a good clean up and some niggles fixing but the all important sls is working fine and there is very little rust. The next trip is now being planned. London to Montenegro (biodiesel for the france portion due to the law). I plan to convert the back to contain a bed but for this trip I will be camping again.

The trip is due to start around the 14th August and there will be 2 passengers plus myself.

Monday 7 July 2008

Carbon neutral dragster racing

I took the car to the Retro Car show this weekend at Santa Pod and raced it down the strip.
It is a quarter mile, from a standing start.

My car is the white one and was running on 100% recycled cooking oil (from the Bayleaf take-away). I'm racing against a similar car which is running on a mixture of straight vegetable oil and mineral diesel. The commentator also runs his van on vegetable oil.

Although I managed to snatch second place, I think this probably has more to do with the way I drove it, rather than the capabilities of the car or fuel. I covered the quarter mile in 22.3827 seconds. I may make a couple of modifications to the car, and to my technique, before bringing the car back to Santa Pod next year. One of the other 190D owners at the event explained how to get more power by modifying the air intake and exhaust. It won't break any records, but the performance is already perfectly adequate for everyday driving, and I might just beat the black one next year!

Friday 23 May 2008

Today's Working Lunch

I was interviewed about the car by Simon Gompertz of the BBC's Working Lunch program. The interview should appear on today's program - 12:30 on BBC2.

Friday 9 May 2008

Smelling like lavender

When running on vegetable oil, the exhaust has a distinctive cooking smell.
It isn't that strong, and you can't smell it when you are driving along with the windows closed.
I personally think it smells much nicer than normal diesel fumes.
When using waste oil, it doesn't seem to smell like the food that was cooked - just a general frying smell. That might just be because the waste oil I use is fairly clean.

So I tried an experiment...
I took a couple of litres of vegetable oil and infused them for a few weeks using a large bunch of fresh lavender, from my friend's garden. I then filtered it (using a new filter element) and stuck it into my near-empty tank to see what effect it would have on the exhaust smell.
The answer, disappointingly, is that you can't smell the lavender on the exhaust.

I don't think I'll try any more smell experiments, but I'd welcome suggestions of other things to try - assuming they don't involve fossil fuels, and don't damage the car or the environment.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Bhaji power

I have asked many restaurants about their waste oil in the past. Some claim they produce little or no waste oil, some give their waste oil back to their oil supplier, and some are happy to give it to us as they normally pay for it to be taken away. Our company is a registered waste carrier and can supply all of the appropriate documentation, and we don't charge for collection.

I now have a regular, local supply of waste oil, with a touch of spice.

Thanks to the following take-aways:
Curry Leaf in Barnet, Herts
Bay Leaf in Whetstone, Herts

Friday 7 March 2008

Mothercare heated filter solution.

Its been a while since I last posted, but I now have a photo of the simple heated fuel filter solution.

Its a baby bottle warmer from mothercare (in this case babytec) wrapped around the existing canister fuel filter. Its 25w and normally allows you to heat your babies bottle via the lighter socket. It works really well and costs £8 new. Whats more it has a thermostat in it so its pretty safe. This would not be enough on its own to run pure oil during cold spells but its really just to get around the waxing problem. A very cheap and simple solution that can be fitted in 5 minutes.

Tuesday 15 January 2008


We have had a few questions about the videos so I have decided to post them here rather than tucked away at the bottom of the images page.

The second one may contain swearing :)

Details of our simple filter heater mod will be coming shortly.