North Coast Bio Diesel owner Anthony Michaels pictured at his outlet in Byron Bay's Industrial Estate.
North Coast Bio Diesel owner Anthony Michaels pictured at his outlet in Byron Bay's Industrial Estate. Brenden Allen

The good oil on how to save on diesel

WHEN Anthony Michaels' brother told him eight years ago you could run your vehicle using old fish and chip oil, he thought he was pulling his leg.

Now the Byron Bay man makes a living out of it as the owner of North Coast Bio Diesel.

Not only is biodiesel - a concoction of used cooking oil, alcohol and other minor ingredients - kinder on the environment, it can also save you money.

It's about the same price as diesel to buy, but it can help prolong the life of your engine. If you make it yourself - at about 60 cents a litre, although it's probably easier to buy - it could leave your piggy bank with a little extra in it at the end of each week.

And if you love the smell of fish and chips cooking, biodiesel could be perfect for you. "It's just one of the bonuses that come with running your vehicle on recycled cooking oil," Mr Michaels said.

On the more serious side, the biofuel can be used in any diesel engine, without modification.

Mr Michaels said it was a suitable additive to petroleum diesel, or runs 'beautifully' in its pure form.

He said biodiesel was a superior grade of fuel compared with petroleum diesel. He said that as it was more lubricous, it was easier on your engine because it reduced wear and tear.

"Your diesel engine will run more quietly and live a significantly longer life," Mr Michaels said.

"You don't need to modify your vehicle, but if you've been running it on diesel you will need to change the fuel filter after the first two tanks of biodiesel.

"Diesel forms a plaque and the biodiesel cleans it out and it ends up in the oil filter."

Mr Michaels said that environmentally, biodiesel was a big step in the right direction.

"It's environmentally friendly and good for your car," he said.

"It cuts soot by about 50 per cent and is 12-times more lubricating for your vehicle, cleaning the whole system out while you drive."

Mr Michaels supplies local shops and restaurants with cooking oil, then collects the used oil, filters it and sends it to a biodiesel plant at Newcastle, where it is made into fuel. He then buys it back and sells it locally.

"I used to make it myself, but it was just too time consuming and too messy," Mr Michaels said.

"It's also a pretty dangerous business. I reckon about half a dozen people burn their sheds down trying to make the stuff each year.

"But once it's made, it is non-toxic and non-flammable.

"It can be stored in anything that petroleum diesel is stored in."

And if you think running your vehicle on cooking oil is strange, there are some people out there attempting to run their cars on water.

A quick search on Google will find hundreds of websites on do-it-yourself methods for turning your vehicle into a water-powered car.

The experts say you can rig your car up to burn water, as well as fuel, halving your fuel consumption.

And according to the Green Tech Gazette website, compressed air-powered cars are not as far out as they seem either, with the vehicles being produced in India and expected to hit US showrooms later this year.

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