Today, the Daily Mail ran a story about ‘Womble’, a car/truck that has “parts from 21 different cars” and runs on pure chip fat or vegetable oil, most of the time. Its owner, a sculptor called Buzz Knapp-Fisher, bought the contraption for £250 a few years ago and has since replaced its old petrol engine with an old diesel engine that will happily run on chip fat and biodiesel.
The Daily Mail writer gets quite lyrical about the car’s environmental credentials, but does miss a few points, from a technical point of view:
- There is no such thing as a “biodiesel engine”, it is a diesel engine with some slight modifications
- Old diesel engines are generally quite easy to convert to biodiesel, vegetable oil and even used chip fat – newer diesel engines, on the other hand, are much less tolerant of such fuels
- By running on vegetable oil, Buzz may be happy that he isn’t producing any carbon emissions, but increased use of vegetable oil as a fuel is having a serious environmental impact – just not in the UK. Parts of Asia and South America, for example, have suffered increased levels of deforestation to make way for new palm oil plantations
- Finally, despite its low carbon fuels, this thing is heavy and has the aerodynamics of a brick – so fuel efficiency is bound to be pretty poor.
Click this link for pictures of Womble and its owner.