Car Culture

Motor oil goes green

New high-endurance motor oil made from animal fat is 100-percent biodegradable.

Certain biofuels, though eco-friendly, have a reputation for gumming up engine parts, which affect vehicle performance and ultimately reduce engine life. So the idea of a bio-based motor oil makes some of us a little nervous. But one Bay Area-based company is hawking a green, biodegradable motor oil that it says will protect engines as well as name-brand, petroleum-based oil.

G-Oil, made by Green Earth Technologies, is made by converting tallow -- that's saturated cow fat to you and me -- into a high-value unsaturated oil, which is less likely to clog up engine parts. (Tallow was used historically to make products such as candles and soap, and was sometimes used in cooking.) The resulting motor oil, according to the label, can be used in naturally-aspirated engines, as well as turbocharged and super-charged diesel and gasoline engines. In addition, the packaging is 100 percent recyclable, and the labels are printed on biodegradable paper with soy ink.

The company says the used oil is non-toxic and can be disposed of at home, but it must first be mixed with another of the company's products, called G-disposoil. The second compound breaks the oil into smaller molecules, which can be eaten by microorganisms found in the soil. However, there is no mention of whether other hazardous chemicals might be picked up by the oil during its lifespan inside the engine.

There isn't much information yet on how to buy G-oil, although the company recently showed off its products at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas.

We love the idea of the product, if all claims turn out to be true. But those of us with newer, high-performance cars might just want to wait around a bit for someone else to be the guinea pig.

Related link: Green Earth Technology