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The price of fuel...FREE?

The 2007 census is out. And Montreal's looking pretty good in the transport category (or at least better than the rest of Canada).
Turns out that we're home to the greenest commuters in the country: 29% of us walk, bike or take public transport to work.
But what about the other 70%? Is there a way to go green without getting out from behind the wheel (or buying a new car)? If you drive a diesel, the answer is yes. And for that you gotta meet Marc Amsden. He's one cool guy.

Amsden modifies cars (and generators) that run on diesel to run on waste vegetable oil. The stuff that's left after a super sized order of fries. He installs a second fuel tank in the trunk of the car (so you retain your original fuel tank--and your ability to fill 'er up with diesel should you run out of veggie goop). He also fits on a heater (that borrows heat from the car's engine) and a filter (that prevents the ghosts of fries past from clogging your engine) and viola!
Why do it?
* Running on vegetable oil cuts your carbon emissions by a whopping 30-50%! Yeah!
* Used vegetable oil is usually available for free (so you can save the planet and still have beer money).
* You can still fill up your regular tank with diesel as a back up and then have two tanks' worth of fuel on a long car trip.
* Even if you choose to buy your vegetable oil prefiltered from Amsden's garage, he'll still only charge you half the going rate of diesel on any given day. So your gas bill falls by half at the minimum.
* You get the same mileage as you would on diesel.
* Some people might put this point in the 'cons' column, but a vegetable oil car will usually smell pleasantly of frying vegetables. Makes you kind of peckish, actually! And hey, I'll take the smell of french fries over the smell of diesel any day!
* By using waste oil (so you're not actually stealing food for fuel), you're helping to recycle and create less waste.
* You'd also be supporting Rudolph Diesel's original vision for the engine he invented. You can read more here.

* You lose a little trunk space.
* You will have to change your motor oil more often.
* The Bush family will take you off their Christmas list.

But what does it cost?
Amsden says the average conversion runs between $1500 and $4000 dollars depending on the size of the car.
You can also buy a do-it-yourself kit (fuel tank, filter, heating element, other doodads) for about $1000 (but the devil is in the details and a badly installed system will give you worse heartburn than a bucketful of chilli bhajjis).
The Jetta featured in the piece cost about $2500 to convert. And chances are, if you drive a gas guzzler, the conversion will pay for itself in a matter of months.

So, let me ask you this....
Would you convert your car? I can only imagine how deliciously smug a diesel Smartcar driver would feel sitting on a converted engine as gas prices continue to rise. Do you drive a converted car? How has it worked for you? Is there anyone out there who filters their own oil?

Oh, and as some final food for thought, check out this link my sister sent me.

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