Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Feb 27

Trans-America Journey Powered by Waste Vegetable Oil

Posted in Biodiesel Fuel | Biofuels | Transportation | Waste to Energy

Stacy Jurich We love to read about different travelers and their adventures, wishing secretly that we could be in their shoes. Here is a young traveler, Stacy Jurich, 2006 graduate of Ohio State University. She is on a 3 ½ month journey across the country, driving her 1981 Mercedes across America. So what is new? She is driving a Mercedes using waste vegetable oil as fuel hence promoting use of alternative fuel. She lives in Toledo, Ohio where she shoulders the responsibility of running a non-profit organization known as “Toledo Choose Local.” This non-profit organization promotes self sustenance using local resources.

Stacy procured her Mercedes online which is equipped as a “grease car”. Any vehicle driven on diesel fuel can use WVO (waste vegetable oil) with a converter kit. The converter kit’s cost ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. When the winter approaches and temperatures fall, people driving a vehicle on WVO have to buy additional equipment to heat the oil because it can get too thick. The veggie oil that Stacy Jurich is using for her trip, is an environmental friendly fuel because it emits about 25 to 40% less carbon monoxide than regular diesel along with yielding the same, if not better, miles per gallon than diesel.

How does Stacy Jurich acquire her fuel? What she narrates is quite interesting compared to our usual “going to a gas station and filling your tank” routine. She has to use her interpersonal skills as well for refueling purpose. Instead of gas stations she has to spot restaurants! Restaurants dispose off their used vegetable oil in a grease dumpster, and this in turn is picked up by a company that uses the oil for byproducts.

Sometimes the companies themselves are interested in buying back their WVO. In few instances restaurants have to pay the company for the pick-up service. Often engaging restaurateurs into a dialogue and negotiating with them works and they give WVO for free. Stacy also tells about a website called, where one can find people who give away or sell waste vegetable oil.

The collection process can also be an unclean job that takes some considerable time. But the feeling that you are living light on earth and not contributing towards pollution is unbeatable. Jurich wears big leather gloves and a jump suit when she gets oil. She also keeps few containers in her trunk covered in a tarp. Jurich has created a great opportunity for herself for sensitizing people to alternative fuel particularly WVO. She is writing about her 8000 miles journey and her WVO driven vehicle at her website

  • Stan

    I drive Euro4 diesel car, which is one of the cleanest vehicle available on market. Euro4 diesel actually has zero tolerance for one of the most important diesel engine lubrucants – sulfur – which of course produces soot, the main pollutant in diesel cycle. The lack of that natural lubricant is replaced by synthetic lubricant. Plus, obvously winter diesel has antigel additives. Heating diesel in winter time is pointless, since you should heat it all the time – if it gels then the paraffins cannot be melted back in the fuel.

    All this being said, no wonder why every other page of the manual warns against using biodiesel or worse WVO.

    At last, I can only imagine the amount of noise, smoke and soot that 1981 diesel car emits per mile.

    So let’s not get carried away. The benefit of being green by recycling some WVO should not be more that the cost of operating that equipment, and I am not talking about money.

  • Green Earth

    What a great way to promote alternative fuel and have a wonderful adventure too. My husband and I outfitted our sailboat with wind and solar so we never had to run an engine to power our boat. Now we are looking at things to do in our everyday lives to help put some green back into the planet!

  • logan

    I am in middle school doing a project on alternative energy. I just can’t understand how you can run a car on vegtable oil. If it works so well, why can’t everyone’s car run off of vegtable oil. I can’t think of how the car generates electricity. Great idea by the way!

  • stacy

    Logan – I will try to explain how it works in short version, and if you have more questions you can e-mail me at staycj[AT] You must have a diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. You should look up Rudolph Diesel, who invented the diesel engine. He ran his first diesel engines on peanut oil. To run on vegetable oil, not biodiesel (you should note that they are different), you must filter the vegetable oil to a certain level and makes sure the oil is hot enough before it goes through the fuel lines and to the engine. To run on vegetable oil you must have modifications to the car, to run on biodiesel you do not need modifications on the car. You must have diesel engine to run either. * To answer your second question, everyone with a diesel engine could run on vegetable oil or biodiesel – to filter and prepare the car for vegetable oil takes a small investment of money, but it does take a fair amount of time, to collect and filter the vegetable oil. Biodiesel is not readily available in many parts of the US. I hope this information helps and good luck with your project!

  • Chris


    This is AJ’s Aunt Chris (Scott’s mom). I saw an article about you and your trip in the Toledo City Paper, plus talked to Becky the other day. Your website is great. I am glad that you are having such an adventure! Would you ever considering speaking to my 6th grade students about alternative energy? Just let me know. Good luck on the rest of your trip. I look forward to reading more. Glad you, Jessi, and Lisa got to visit!

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