Talking 'bout a veggie oil revolution 

Rising gas prices and environmental concerns drive the movement to run vehicles on alternative fuels

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAWN GREEN - big rig Pro freeskier Mark Abma used his recently convereted WVO truck to power his way to Alaska and back.
  • Photo BY dawn green
  • big rig Pro freeskier Mark Abma used his recently convereted WVO truck to power his way to Alaska and back.

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And while many are attracted to the cost savings — WVO is half the price of diesel — Edmondson says people also like using a local supply of fuel instead of outsourcing it. "I love driving past gas stations," Edmondson says. "I've probably put in over 100,000 kilometres in my vehicle on veg oil, so it definitely made my fuel costs lower."

And once converted, there are no limitations on how far you can drive your WVO vehicle.

Just ask Mark Abma.

A professional freeskier from Squamish, Abma recently returned from an 8,500-kilometre trip to Alaska using his converted truck. And rather than collecting oil along the way, he towed a trailer holding a vegetable oil tank.

"It's really an amazing feeling driving around on veggie oil ... it puts a smile on my face every time it switches over from diesel to veggie oil," Abma said.

French fries to fuel

More and more corridor restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon and donating their waste oil to the cause.

Les Ecker, owner of the Southside Diner in Whistler, has been stockpiling waste oil in containers, which Edmondson then collects, for the past two years — a process which he describes as "painless."

He has also been running his van on WVO and points out that since it is considered a waste product, which requires restaurant owners to pay for its removal by recycling companies, he prefers to put the waste oil to good use.

"It's something that I have to get rid of from the restaurant ... so I'm using it twice in this sense," Ecker said.

He also cites rising fuel prices as part of his reasoning to convert, along with the desire for a smaller carbon footprint, and notes that it's a great conversation piece as well. "The most common question asked is, 'How does it run when compared to running on diesel?' and it's the same — same power, same performance."

Ecker notes that the WVO industry is growing but describes it as a "kind of underground type of thing at the moment."

There are challenges. If consumption becomes larger than hobby use, people may be forced to pay a fuel surcharge tax, and the whole industry could be shut down.

There are even some companies, which collect WVO, take it to Vancouver, process it and ship it overseas because there are too many rules and regulations in Canada.

Sustainability questions

Kerr believes that Canada is lagging behind other parts of the world in this alternative fuel technology.

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