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Transplant Athlete
Friday, January 21, 2005
  BioDiesel

For the past couple of months, I've had a strange fascination with Biodiesel. I've been reading everything I can find on it. In case you don't know, biodiesel is probably the only thing that can save us from ourselves. The short version is this.
We want to drive huge trucks(Expeditions, Suburbans, HUMVEES), but we don't want to pay high prices for gasoline. We are sending brave men and women overseas to fight and die for the last half of the petroleum on the planet.

Some people (idiots) point to Hydrogen as the solution. Its clean, its plentiful, its also completely impractical. My guess is that it will take 30 years for the major car companies to make hydrogen commercially viable.

Gas/Electric Hybrids are a good start, but they don't go far enough at solving our problem. Take a look at the Volkswagen Jetta - Gas vs. Diesel


2.0L Gas Version115 hp122 lb*ft Torque24 City31 HWY
1.9L Diesel100 hp177 lb*ft Torque38 City46 HWY

Now, look at the Honda Civic Sedan vs. Civic Hybrid:

Regular115 hp110 lb*ft Torque29 City38 Hwy
Hybrid85 hp87 lb*ft Torque47 City48 Hwy

Without any changes to technology(off the shelf diesel technology) and using our current infrastructure(diesel pumps everywhere), the diesel has mileage comparable to the hybrid. Stick with me folks, I'm going to do a little extrapolation here. The hybrid gets 1.6 times better gas mileage than the regular in city driving and 1.26 times better mileage in a highway than the regular. If VW made a Diesel electric hybrid Jetta, it could conceivably get 61 mpg in the city and 58 mpg in highway driving. For those keeping score at home, that's twice the mileage of a gas Jetta.
Now, diesel is a bit dirtier than gas, which is where BioDiesel comes in. Check this study from Harvard and draw your own conclusions.Also, look at this report by the Union of Concerned Scientists which completely neglects biodiesel in their analysis, claims that a diesel vehicle is more expensive than a gas-hybrid vehicle, and that the fuel savings of a diesel is insignificant when looking at the emissions of gas vs. diesel.
The main benefit of biodiesel is its production puts money in the pockets of American farmers. Our needs could eventually be met entirely by domestic farming. GO USA.
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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