I use restaurant vegetable oil for car fuel
I use restaurant vegetable oil  for car fuel
Name: James Bauernschmidt
Hometown: Annapolis, Md.

Facing high gas prices, I junked my Oldsmobile, which got about 22 miles per gallon, for the most fuel-efficient car I could find -- a diesel VW TDI, which gets about double the mileage.

I'm really interested in energy independence, so I started researching ways to use things other than imported oil. Then I came across some people online making their own biodiesel from vegetable oil, so I decided to try it out myself. Once I knew what I was doing, I paid a total of about $500 for a 50-gallon plastic tank and other supplies, and went to work in my tool shed.

I then started knocking on the back doors of restaurants, where they keep their extra vegetable oil in bins. Most restaurants would have to pay to have this wasted vegetable oil disposed, so they're usually glad when I come around.

My best source is a little restaurant in Baltimore, the Yellow Dog Tavern. I go by that place every few months and they give me 50 gallons of vegetable oil.

I go through about 300 gallons of biodiesel a year, so with my materials costing about $1 a gallon, my savings are probably $600 to $900 a year.

Last updated June 16 2011: 7:48 AM ET
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