Since coming back from the auto show, I’ve been obsessing over turbodiesel-powered Volkswagen Golf and Jetta TDIs. It’s not just that these spiffy VWs deliver among the best gas mileage (40+ MPG!), it’s that they can be powered by biodiesel fuel. What’s that? Insanely great mileage and NO dependence on imported oil? It’s almost too good to be true! But here’s the rub…

I hate the smell of diesel fuel, I hate the clattering sound of diesel engines, I’ve never owned a Volkswagen, and oh yeah… I’m not really in the market for a new car.

Legend has it, the diesel engine was originally designed to run on peanut oil. Mmmmmm, roasting peanuts… surely more aromatic than roasting petrol. These days, commercial biodiesel fuel – like Willie Nelson’s BioWillie is made from corn.

Biodiesel is typically cut with conventional diesel fuel, in B5, B20, and B50 blends (5%, 20%, and 50% biodiesel, respectively). While it’s possible to run 100% (B100) biodiesel, you’ll only want to do so in the warmer months. Biodiesel has a nasty habit of congealing when it gets cold.

From what I’ve read, biodiesel exhaust smells a heck of a lot nicer than conventional diesel exhaust. Even better, it contains far less of the nasty stuff that pollutes the air. And (perhaps) best of all, it’s domestically produced.

But that’s not all! (In my best infomercial voice) I’ve seen reports stating that biodiesel fuel allows diesel engines to run more quietly, due to the fuel’s properties.

Being the easily seduced, yet ever skeptical geek that I am, I need to experience a biodiesel-powered vehicle… I want to take a diesel-powered car (or truck) that has never run on biodiesel, change the fuel filter(s), and fill up the tank with corn oil.

Now I’m not about to do this with a brand new car (although, that would be nice if I had the cash to throw around on a whim)… so I’ve been looking for cheap VW TDIs on eBay and AutoTrader. I found a likely and local candidate today… but when I told my wife, she replied with, “Who is going to drive that?”

[tags]volkswagen,alternative energy,tdi,biofuel,biodiesel,corn oil[/tags]