Biodiesel

Last spring a company set up in a trading estate near to me who make and sell Biodiesel (Link Below). My car is a Diesel which does a lot of miles (approaching 20,000 Year) so it seemed an obvious choice.

When I compared the price it seemed even more obvious as, depending upon the grade, you can save about 6-20p a litre over High St Prices.

I Googled it and looked up the known issues with using Biodiesel:

1: Biodiesel can be more corrosive the ordinary fuel and can poses a risk to the rubber pipes in your engine – I looked in this a bit more and it turns out nearly all manufacturers switched to more resistant compounds in the 90’s – certainly it’s not been an issue in my 53 plate Toyota and shouldn’t be in any modern car.

2: It turns out Biodiesel is slightly more dense than fuel from fossil fuels. The risk this poses is that over time some of gunge that has sunk to the bottom of your fuel tank will be pulled through to the engine. It will be caught by the fuel filter, but this will normally need changing after a few weeks or months usage because of the additional gunk. In my case after about 4 months a warning light on my dashboard told me there was water in my fuel filter. I replaced the filter which cost me £16 – annoyingly this is probably a lot of the financial gain I had made if you add it up! There was a lot of brownish gunk in the filter – presumably an emulsion of the petrol and the water – but I’m told that someone reasonably handy (Not me then) could wash out the filter with petrol and replace it. It should be only a one time thing.

3: There can be loss of performance – I can’t say my car and I are high performance on the road anyway, but I didn’t notice a real difference.

4: Issues in cold weather – Diesel gets ‘waxy’ at very low temperatures and this make it difficult to start the engine. In very cold climates Lorry drivers have special heaters to keep their engines/fuel warm (Ice road Truckers!). This is slightly more of a worry with biodiesel than ordinary diesel because of the denseness – but it has not been an issue for me. In cold weather I just use the heater plugs and it still starts first time. This garage stop selling 100% biodiesel in the coldest part of the year.

5: Biodiesel is designed to run in ordinary cars without adaptation – it is not the same as adapting you car to run on waste oil. If the Biofuel garage is closed I can just go to Tesco’s.

In the UK we don’t normally buy 100% biodiesel – probably because of these issues. My supplier offers B30 (30% biodiesel) B50 (55% biodiesel) and B100, with the price going down by a few pence for each step.

I have used B100 a couple of times, but I mostly stick to B50. I honestly can’t tell the difference in the cars performance – the only way to tell is to sniff the exhaust which has a kerosene note to it that Is not there with ordinary fuel.

The only other issue is that the company don’t have a chip and pin machine – its cash only so you tend turn up and ask for ’40 Quid’s worth’ rather than ‘fill her up’.

The company tell me they use Rape seed oil and/or Soya oil to make the fuel

Overall then, my experience has been pretty positive one.

Looked at from purely financial point of view there has not been a great saving because of the new fuel filter. It has also taken a bit or organisation to turn up with the cash in my hand – I don’t carry that sort of cash around – usually I have to go to Tesco’s and ask for a cashback or use their Hole in the wall (driving past their garage!).

But there is a real personal satisfaction in feeling greener whilst driving and the Kudos is fantastic … Just before Xmas I drove my Partner and her parents (both in their 80’s) around for a couple of days and even they were impressed by the idea of being driven round in a car powered by a green fuel. That feeling of doing my best for the environment (and saving a few pennies along the way) is why I will continue to use Biodiesel.

Links:

My supplier:

http://www.prestigefuels.co.uk/

Background

http://alternativefuels.about.com/od/vehiclemaintenanceguide/a/dieselcoldweath.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel (a bit American for my tastes)

http://www.bioroute.co.uk/biodiesel.htm

http://autorepair.about.com/cs/generalinfo/a/aa102001a.htm (About diesel engines and heater plugs)

Facebook

To my surprise I really like Facebook.
I only joined a few weeks ago after resisting for a long time on the grounds of advanced age and extreme grumpiness.
I like the Newsfeed with info and photos about people I know and how they are doing. Its interesting to poke gentle fun sometimes and say thankyou (or not) as needed. It surprised me (don’t know why) to discover that my Niece (14) swears a lot! I didnt know what NEAD’s was (Non Epileptic Attack Disorder). I kept in touch with others when off work and during the snow and enjoyed their pictures of huge amounts of snow and Snowmen and Snow Angels.
I been surprised how many of my friends joined randomly stupid groups like ‘1,000,000 to join this group before Thursday and my Dad wont have our cat put down,’ or ‘if we all jojn this group Facebook wont charge us for being members when they begin charging next month’ – I just hope their data is not going to be misused. There is a small part of me though that will be amused when the Dad posts the cat to one of the members saying ‘here you cared so much’.
I spent much of the day last week trying to work out why women (mostly!) were changing their status lines to just a colour – Red or Black or Grey etc. I only found out later thanks to the Telegraph (link below). At the moment people are changing their line to read ‘My fine is £XXXX’ but I think the reasons are a bit less laudable than the colours were.
I really like the way it handles photos – making albums you can share pretty much effortlessly.
The best thing though is the games!
As an Old Pc Gamer they often seem rather familiar due to their simple animation and isometric viewing angle. They have added a totally new element to the game – Time managment. Instead of playing until you reach an objective or until you get bored (or until your Mother, Partner, S.O. yells at you enough) the game just keeps on going when when you are not there. They are not really designed for you to sit at the keyboard all day – it would be pretty boring watching Wheat grow or Pot Roast cook, but by chosing which dishes to cook or crops to sow you can work out when you need to log back on and harvest the crop or serve the dish.
The 2 best known are Farmville (Farming) and Cafe World (Cooking). The New York Times wrote about the way the mania for Farmville had taken off in the autumn of 2009 (link Below) although it is now less of an obsession for most as familarity sets in.
Cafe World is my current passion – I have spent hours working out a strategy which gives me the best chance of catching up with those who started before me (in my defence I have caught quite a few). I know off by heart which dishes give me the best CP (Cafe Points)return in the shortest timescale. I can work out which dishes to leave on the cooker in the morning so as to be ready when I am getting home at night.
To be honest I am becoming a bit of an Geek about it – I even found myself giving a lecture on the mathematical probabilities of the game to an old friend via facebook Chat the other day! She just said I was sad.
All of these games will burn out like Farmville in the end – I spent much of the weekend looking for alternatives myself as I know there will be limit to how far I can take the game before I get bored (Country Life looks quite good).
In my case at least part of the limit is cheaters. In Cafe world it didnt take some bright Spark long to figure out that if you get a load of points for preparing a dish and then a load more 12 hours later for serving it, if you just prepare it and then delete it you lose the points at the end but can immediately prepare another dish and get the serving points for that one, potentially making thousands of points in that 12 hour Gap. There are people out there with 3X 4X 10X the points I have which is just not possible without ‘cheats’ such as this. I’m pretty sure from the number of sites with Farmville hacks and cheats out there that this is affecting long term users of that game too.
Is it a natural human urge that overtakes you when you begin to see others moving ahead of you and despite your best efforts a gap begins to open? “Oh well they must have a cheat – If I can find out what it is I can join them”. Or are some people just ingrained cheaters who start out looking for the sly way to get ahead?
What has happened with these games has been a gradual realisation that some of those alongside you are not peddalling as hard as you are. In those circumstances most sensible people will probably chose to drop out – after all its just a game – not worth rocking the boat about. What will be left is just the cheaters playing a different game from that they started with, a debased version where playing straight wins no prizes at all.
The funny thing is that I find myself wondering if this what what happened with the Banks?
Links: