As if the rock 'n' roll lifestyle weren't hard enough these days, more than ever your average rock band has to face the decidedly un-rock challenges of fossil fuel dependency. On top of the global impact of driving 5,000 to 10,000 miles in a gas-guzzling tour van, there is the more immediate financial concern—especially considering that a full US tour (at $3 a gallon) will set a band back close to $3,000. Instead of holding out for a tour van hybrid (which at the rate they make them, will probably be on the market in about 10 to 15 years), why not consider filling your tank with biodiesel? It will save your wallet with its extended fuel mileage (about 30 to 40 percent better than a gasoline vehicle) and won't be destroying the environment/world at the feverish pace that gasoline does. Brian Jamison of Portland-based GoBiodiesel Cooperative talks about what it takes to make the switch to biodiesel.

So if I'm in a touring rock band that travels in a late-model touring van, what would I need to do to make the switch to biodiesel?

If you have a diesel vehicle, then nothing. Just buy biodiesel and pour it in the tank. The FAQ on our site ( has extensive info on a couple of minor things you may need to do on a vehicle that's over 10 years old.

What if you don't have a diesel van? Can you transfer a gasoline engine to a biodiesel one?

You can take a gasoline engine out and swap it for diesel, but that can be costly. There are transmission and electrical considerations as well, so most people find it better just to find a diesel vehicle.

Can you explain the difference between biodiesel and vegetable oil? Are they the same thing?

They're not the same at all. Vegetable oil is, well, oil from vegetables. Biodiesel starts out as veggie oil (usually), and a simple chemical reaction actually changes the oil into biodiesel.

While it seems like an easy thing to find here in Portland, will touring bands be able to purchase biodiesel while out on the road?

More and more the answer is yes. Touring the West Coast should be possible today. It requires a bit of web surfing and calling to find locations that sell it. Worst case, the band can just buy diesel if they can't find biodiesel.