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Is it Worth Converting My Car to an Alternative Fuel?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 2 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Motoring Budget Car Fuel Alternative

If you have been thinking about buying a new, more environmentally friendly car than you currently drive, but have been put off by recent economic events - you may be considering converting your existing vehicle to run on an alternative fuel instead. There are many different conversion options available such as vegetable oil conversions, biodiesel, bioethenol and LPG - to name but a few, but it can be very confusing to know what to go for.

It's fair to say that many motorists wouldn't know which type of alternative fuel to go for, or even how or where to start sorting out a conversion - so we have put together a guide that shows you the options available, and can help you to come to a conclusion on what is best for your personal circumstances and your budget.

Why Covert to Alternative Fuel?

Petrol and Diesel are distilled from crude oil, refined and then burned in an internal combustion engine in a process which produces power. Oil is a finite resource which takes millions of years to produce, so alternative fuel methods need to be considered now as the world's oil supply will run out one day.

Protection of the environment is also a big issue and fossil fuels release lots of harmful gases into the atmosphere and so add problems by causing high levels of pollution. Converting your car to an alternative type of fuel can bring down the cost of motoring for you in terms of fuel prices, vehicle excise duty, and various savings that can be made on things like the congestion charge, and in some areas, parking fees.

What Kinds of Alternative Fuel are Available?

  • Biogas - a carbon dioxide and methane mixture which is most often taken from landfill sites or produced by a process of anaerobic digestion.

Conversion effectiveness on carbon emissions: 95% reduction

  • Biodiesel - Biodiesel is produced from left-over cooking oil or crop oil.

Conversion effectiveness on carbon emissions: 60% reduction

  • Natural Gas - Primarily made up of methane taken from gas and oil fields

Conversion effectiveness on carbon emissions: 15% reduction

  • Bioethanol - This fuel is produced from plants that produce starch, such as sugar plants and corn

Conversion effectiveness on carbon emissions: 70% reduction

  • Fuel Cells - a fuel cell which uses oxygen combined with hydrogen to produce electricity
  • Pure Plant Oil - this fuel is produced by using crops such as rapeseed, crushing and filtering them.

So Where Do I Go from Here?

If you are wanting to find out more about different types of fuel conversion and more specifically, which ones are applicable to the vehicle you currently own, your next step should be to visit the Energy Saving Trust at www.est.org.uk and to take a look at the list of Energy Savings Trust approved conversion companies hosted there and their contact details.

From this you should be able to find a local company who will talk you through the available options for your car and the steps you will need to take to start the conversion process once you have decided what you want to do.

Saving on the Congestion Charge

If you live or work in the Capital and have to pay the London Congestion Charge, you should check the Powershift Register hosted at the Energy Saving Trust. The Powershift Register details the type of vehicles which will get you a full exemption from the congestion charge, which now includes fully electric vehicles. You can also follow the links to apply for an application form for your newly converted vehicle.


Getting your car converted to an alternative fuel can bring benefits in terms of savings, and of course, peace of mind in knowing that you are helping reduce pollution - but it is important that you discuss the options with a specialist before going ahead and making a decision on what you are going to do.

If you decide to go ahead and have your car converted, you should always get a good, trustworthy company to carry out the work or you may end up spending more on the initial modifications than you ever save on fuel in the long run.

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