Perry going green


The Perry city government is moving beyond grinning and bearing it when it comes to rising fuel costs.

Officials are cooking up a recipe for savings by substituting used cooking oil for gasoline in some city equipment.

A good friend has a hippie sister who drives a VW van around on vegetable oil.


  1. Jessica says:

    Good on ’em. It’s not that difficult to convert old cooking oil into biodiesel. You can make a processor from an old water heater and spare parts, like this model:

    Or, if you have more money than time, you can buy a ready-made processor like the fuelmeister.

    Most diesel engines will run on biodiesel with no problem. The main thing is that you’ll need to change your fuel filter shortly after switching, because the biodiesel will knock all the petroleum sediment in your old filter loose.

    The other concern is that running 100% biodiesel may void your engine warranty. Most warranties cover diesel mixes up to 20% bio / 80% petroleum (B20 is the most common biodiesel you can buy at a pump).

    I think if people really knew how easy it is to do this, you’d see more folks doin’ it rather than just your “good friend’s hippie sister.” Once you have a reliable source of used veggie oil, producing the stuff can cost you as little as $.70/gal – savings that offset the cost of the initial investment pretty quickly.

    If Perry’s implementation of this is successful, hopefully we’ll see more cities head this direction.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    This is one of the few “alternative” energy sources that have been proposed that I support, as long as it is recycled used oils. Growing crops specifically to make bio-diesel is foolish.

    However, people need to realize that is cheap now because the demand for it is low. If all of the fatty oils produced in our country were converted into diesel, it would only fulfill 1/10 of the demand for diesel (not gasoline, just diesel). It will not replace petroleum, but will at least turn waste into something useful.

  3. Jessica says:

    But short-term dependence on biodiesel manufactured from recycled veggie oil is not dangerous. The initial investment in the technology can be more than recouped way before demand rises enough to make costs prohibitive. Even when costs do rise that high, you could completely discontinue use to switch back to petroleum (or whatever new tech has arisen) and still show net gain during time of use.

  4. Old Vet says:

    My VW gets 50 mpg on converted chicken fat. Ready made biodiesel isn’t cheap, but at 50 mpg one can splurge. I’d make it myself, but my wife has seen too many of my projects go horribly wrong to permit that. Smart woman.

  5. Doug Deal says:


    I did not mean what I said to as opposing the use of it. I was just commenting on the very limited scope for the use of bio-diesel. There just isn’t enough source material for this particular process to replace petroleum. However we should use every ounce that we can get from it, as long as it is economically feasible.

    One of the problems with alternative energy proposals is that few people realize the impracticality of scaling these processes up the nationwide primary energy source level.

  6. Jessica says:

    I agree, Doug – most people don’t understand the viability of alternative energy sources at the macro level. But i think utilizing an energy alternative like biodiesel at the city level is one way to manage already strained city budgets. Think about it it – Perry is projected to save $1400/mo on fuel costs just by converting “off road” vehicles. That’s $16,800/yr assuming the price of petroleum diesel holds steady (right). And we’re just talking lawnmowers here.

  7. Icarus says:

    + 1 point Doug Deal

    + 2 points Old Vet for : “but my wife has seen too many of my projects go horribly wrong to permit that. Smart woman.”

  8. btaylor says:

    The refinery built by the city of perry was a salvage project that cost about twenty dollars to build. a good scrounger could do this at home just as cheap. the system is working well and has produced about 300 gallons of WVO fuel for our mowers.
    currently we have five of our mowers converted,and have had no problems at all with the fuel.
    Bt (maintenance supervisor,city of perry)

  9. jsm says:

    “Most diesel engines will run on biodiesel with no problem. The main thing is that you’ll need to change your fuel filter shortly after switching”

    You have to change any fuel line hoses as well. The cooking oil eats up the regular rubber ones. I know of a contractor who makes his own biodiesel for his 3/4 ton pickup. He has a few restaurants who give him their used oil. Once he treats it, he mixes it 50/50 (I think) with diesel, and saves a lot on fuel. I was told his current overall fuel cost is about $2.50/gallon.

    In the next few decades, I think diversity of transportation fuel options may be what gets us by.

  10. btaylor says:

    The fuel line issue is only if butyl rubber is used.most late model diesel fuel systems dont use this type of line,and are compatible with the WVO. All rubber fuel lines will break down with age,regardless of the type of fuel being used.

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