Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hebmüller Pre-Filter

I finally got my pre-filter installed on the Jetta. It filters down to about 150 microns, which is not very small for a filter, but the larger filter medium makes sure that I don't lose any flow capacity across the filter element. However it's still small enough to catch any dino-diesel crud left over in my tank that gets cleaned out by the biodiesel before it clogs my main fuel filter. Thus, a clogged main filter is a thing of the past. :-) Had my car been running on biodiesel from the start, there would be no crud in the tank for the biodiesel to clean out so there would be no worry for a clogged main fuel filter.

It is still kind of fun to see the "bean juice" flowing freely into the engine through this clear pre-filter though. It should also help out in the winter when there *might* be a chance of the fuel gelling. This will allow me to see it easily if it happens. The air space in the top is nothing to worry about because it's a low pressure line on these pre-2003 TDI's. If it were a post-2003 engine (PD engine), the line would be pressurized by the tank pump and pump that air pocket right out.

If anyone local is interested, I have some extra filters and high-quality fuel line because I had to buy in bulk. The filter cost me $3.25 each and the hose cost me about $2.00/foot, both prices including shipping. If anybody local wants to put one on your TDI, let me know and you can buy the stuff from me for what I bought it for. Some people don't even put the new fuel hose on, but instead they just cut a section out of their original fuel line and put the filter in place, this works just fine too, but I liked the look of the blue hose, haha.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Crude Awakening

I haven't blogged for a bit, so today turns out to be a good day to blog. We had a great time this weekend with our friends, Steve, Liz, and Nash (and Lexi too of course), that finally joined us up in Salt Lake. Cornia even showed up at their house! He's got a great reggae band, "Carlos Cornia" that I actually have yet to see in person, but want to really bad. We went to eat at Settebello, mmmm, that's all that needs to be said about that :-)

But the main thing that spurred me to post was the movie that Gina and I just got done watching, A Crude Awakening. My favorite part was hearing about Hubbert's Peak because I have learned about it in school already and could relate to it. I highly recommend the movie if you have not seen it

The movie is very well researched and follows along very well with what scientists like Hubbert have been telling us since the 60's and 70's. So far, they've been very close to perfect with their estimations about oil reserves and our obscene exploitation of those reserves. For those of you that remember the 70's gas crunch, that was only a drop in production of crude oil by about 5%. Royal Dutch/Shell announced in 2004 that it really knew of 20 percent fewer oil reserves than they had been reporting up to that point. At the time, 20 percent of just their reserves equated to 3.9 billion barrels of oil valued at $136 Billion at that time. Today that same amount of oil equates to nearly $254 billion at current ~$65/barrel prices. Evidence that our oil reserves are limited is all around us. Many countries are now importing more oil than they are producing and it's not far off for the U.S. either. At the rate we're using it, even all of our "untapped" reserves would not sustain us for very long in a crisis. It's an interesting movie and shows how dependent we are on oil. A change is needed, and there is no silver bullet. No matter the mechanisms that you use (even my beloved biodiesel) we will all have to use less of it and promote sustainability and conservation. Go out and rent this movie, if nothing else, to simply be aware of what is to come in our future.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Biodiesel report

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I figure that after 9 1/2 months of having the "ole oil burner" aka "The Jetta" in her new home in SLC that it was time for an update on how she's running. As stated in an earlier post, we found the Jetta on Craigslist after months of searching for a cheap, TDI that I could run on biodiesel. It also took a few months convincing Gina that getting one new car and selling our other two would be worth it. After getting it home, the first few tanks were a B20 blend of biodiesel (20% biodiesel 80% regular diesel) to kind of ease into the whole biodiesel thing. The car had nearly 100,000 miles on it and biodiesel really cleans out the system, so it's not a good thing to make the switch very fast. The weather started to get cold and we had to continue to run B20 until the spring time because a higher percentage of biodiesel would have a problem with the cold weather. So B20 it was throughout the winter, and I was still 80% tied to foreign oil. But, glorious spring time came around and I topped off with B100 (100% biodiesel) from Cardwell Distributing.

It smelled a little vegetable oil-like and not like a fuel at all (which was nice compared to the oily smell of regular diesel), so I pumped it in and drove away happy on a mixture of 100% soy and canola-based biodiesel from Idaho and Colorado. The car immediately quieted down a significant amount and the exhaust was devoid of it's normal slightly pungent diesel aroma in favor of the new cooked vegetable oil fragrance. And it was about $0.05 cheaper than regular diesel at the time to boot!

I can now report that after 21,000 miles on either B20 or B100, the Jetta is still going strong and just ticked over to 120,000 miles. I have performed the regular maintenance with a filter change here and there, an oil change (which only needs to be done ever 15,000 miles BTW), and a timing belt job and that's about it. During this last tank, the weather was extra hot (think A/C on all the time) and we did almost exclusively city driving and we got a horrible 39 MPG. It was the first time we have dipped below the 40 MPG mark, so it was a sad day. On the flip side, here's a shot of our fuel mileage record:

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Yep, that's a 53 MPG in the middle there. That was on the way to Durango and back on one tank. Diesels really excel at the freeway driving, so the times where the mileage was high were times when we did a lot of freeway driving. The times when it was low was city driving (which we do more of anyway). What drives me nuts though is the stupid EPA. Just look at these numbers, eek!

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Can you believe that? That's the EPA trying to say that my car is supposed to get 38 MPG combined and I actually get about 43 MPG! How can they do that?! The one that irks me the most is the freeway rating. They say the car gets 44 MPG on the freeway, I have never gotten below 50MPG on the freeway and I run a renewable fuel instead of gasoline! I don't understand the EPA sometimes, it's ridiculous. At least they revised the bloated numbers to better reflect the mileage that hybrids get (believe it or not, hybrids do NOT get 60 MPG as Toyota claimed). A prius for example gets a little better mileage than the TDI in the city, but gets worse mileage on the freeway. Hybrid technology is great though, don't get me wrong, although it would be nice if they could run a renewable fuel and still get the same mileage numbers. Can't wait until Europe brings over the diesel-hybrids to replace all the gasoline ones, can you say true 60 MPG combined mileage?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

HDR, and Gilgal too.

OK, a bit of explaining... I didn't know that HDR photos had to be in a special format, but now I do and it makes sense. So I had to figure out how to turn them into a JPEG file so I could post them up here. I finally figured it out, and here's one:

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The idea is that you get a wider range of tones with HDR, and therefore you see more detail throughout the photo. Looks like I need to work on it a bit, haha. I'll post more later.

Gina and I went to Gilgal Gardens the other day too. It was a blast and really cool to see some of the sights that surround us that we usually take for granted. See the post here

and a teaser photo:
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