North Country Residents Go Green Using Grease Power

Alternatives fuel options for diesel car and truck owners

North Country restaurant owners over the past several years have been asked many different things concerning their businesses in their lifetime, but more recently they have been asked for their used grease.

The latest innovation in the going green campaign in the United States has been the introduction of grease, also known as vegetable oil, to power diesel cars and trucks.

"You're still putting out harmful emissions, but you're reducing those emissions," Ken Oldrid says, owner of Greendiesels, a vegetable oil fuel system installer located in Rutland, Vermont.

By using grease, the consumer is not emitting as much sulfur and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Oldrid says.  The carbon dioxide that is emitted is considered to be carbon neutral, which means that this carbon does not impact the environment.

Under the hood of a grease car

Matt Bokus's GreaseCar engine setup.

Matt Bokus of West Chazy, NY, has used grease to power his car for the past three years.  With fuel prices steadily increasing, Bokus decided that he would try to do something to decrease his reliance on oil. 

"This is the main reason why I did this; I don't think we should be using as much oil."

He researched the topic of powering his Volkswagen Jetta using grease, and found a company called GreaseCar where he bought an add-on kit that would allow him to run grease through the motor of his engine.

In order for this kit to work, the car needs to be started and shut down using diesel fuel. The reliance on diesel is still a necessity, but not a major one.

"I fill my car up with diesel about once a month, and fill my other tank up once a week."

The kit Bokus bought from GreaseCar involves the installation of a new tank, which holds the filtered grease and some minor engine work under the hood of the car.

"The install I did over the course of two weekends, you know a couple of hours one day and a couple hours another day," Bokus says.

Filtered grease containers

Plastic containers filled with filtered grease.

Once the installation is complete, acquiring a source for a reliable supply of grease is the next step. "I get the grease from local restaurants," Bokus says.  He elaborated saying that many fast food chains now have contracts that don't allow him to take their grease.  But according to him, he has a reliable supply, so people who are looking for reliable grease the best bet is to ask their local restaurants, and tell them what its intended use is going to be.

After a reliable supply of grease is found, filtration of the grease is needed, because grease straight from the fryers is not ideal for running a vehicle. 

"If you don't properly filter it, you can plug a filter in a couple hundred miles."

Bokus has found that letting his grease settle in the plastic containers is a very effective way to filtrate grease. Once the grease has sat for awhile, it separates the good grease from the bad, and the top layer of the bucket is the ideal grease to be put into a car.

Bokus's neighbor, Chris Ryan, has an elaborate setup that uses gravity to filter his grease called an up-flow filtration system.  It works by filling up one container with used grease, which has a tube that siphons the filtered grease from that container to another container. This allows Ryan to take the filtered grease and fill his grease tank up automatically.

Over the past several years, the demand for grease add-on kits for diesel-powered cars has spurred new businesses to spring up in the surrounding North Country area.

Ken Oldrid, owner of Greendiesels, started his business about three years ago in the Rutland area.  Since his initial startup, he has seen the demand for vegetable oil fuel systems continue to rise, and peaked this summer when fuel prices were at an all time high above four dollars a gallon.


"Green energy is the perfect start."

"The demand has increased this year over past years", Oldrid says.

He went on to say that there are many people now in the state of Vermont, New York and province of Quebec who are now installing these vegetable oil fuel systems in cars.

Grease that is being filtered

Filtered grease flowing through the Up-flow filtration system.

There is one major drawback to having a grease-powered car here in the North Country.  "It's not that great in the winter time," Bokus says. In the North Country, during the winter, the temperatures can average anywhere from thirty-two degrees in December to twenty-seven degrees in January.  When the temperatures are this low, this causes the car to heat up longer before the grease can be injected into the engine to run. The cold temperatures cause the grease lines to congeal, which can literary cause the car to stall and not start.

Chris Ryan thinks he has a remedy to that problem, though.  He heats his tank and engine overnight with two external heaters that warm the fuel tank and the engine.  This enables him to start his car on oil and then immediately switch it over to grease in the dead of winter.

The use of grease to power cars and trucks is a step in the right direction to decrease this country's dependency on foreign oil and to increase our independence on foreign resources, Bokus concludes.

What are some of the ways you are helping the world to become a greener place?