Converting an engine to biodiesel or even vegetable oil is much easier than converting a gasoline engine to ethanol . In fact, depending on your vehicle, you may not need to do any conversion work at all. Since petroleum diesel has been the norm for a century and a half, and the infrastructure for petroleum-based fuels is basically everywhere, there has been some conundrum surrounding the idea of biodiesel, but the reality is much simpler than many people think.
One of the most attractive features diesel engine is that it should not run on diesel fuel. That is, diesel engines were originally designed to work with a wide range of different types of fuel, and only later did oil diesel become the norm. Today, biodiesel is becoming more common every year and people are also turning to other alternative fuels such as vegetable oil for use in their diesel engines.
The difference between diesel, biodiesel and vegetable oil
While diesel engines can technically run on a wide range of different fuels, the three most common options are diesel from petroleum, biodiesel from plant and animal products, and natural vegetable oil or animal fat.
- Diesel fuel or petrodiesel fuel, is the fuel most commonly available on petrol stations , and that’s what modern diesel vehicles are designed to do. It is a petroleum product, like gasoline, making it a fossil fuel.
- biodiesel , unlike conventional diesel, is produced from renewable vegetable oils and animal fats. Under ideal conditions, it is functionally similar to petroleum diesel, so you can use it on almost any diesel engine with little to no conversion process. The main caveat is that pure biodiesel doesn’t perform as well in cold weather, which is why it’s often sold as a blend with regular diesel. For example, B20 is made up of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petrodiesel. There are other issues with direct biodiesel in some engines, but we’ll talk about those later.
- Direct Vegetable Oil (SVO) and waste vegetable oil (WVO) — that’s exactly what they look like. SVO is brand new, unused vegetable oil, while WVO is restaurant sourced vegetable oil. While it is possible to run a diesel engine with fresh store-bought vegetable oil, a much more common and more economical way is to obtain used oil from restaurants. The oil then needs to be strained before it can be used as fuel. Some level of modification is usually also required before you can safely run a modern vegetable oil diesel engine.
Engine conversion to run on biodiesel
In most cases, you don’t need to do any conversions or add any extra technology to your vehicle in order to run it on biodiesel instead of regular diesel. Blends ranging from B5, with 5% biodiesel, to B100, with 100% biodiesel, are usually available, but you should check the fine print on your warranty before filling. Some manufacturers now have warranties on engines that run on B20 or less, meaning 20% or less on biodiesel, but this varies from one manufacturer to another.
One important factor to consider when switching to biodiesel is that biodiesel may contain traces of methanol which is a solvent that can destroy any rubber hoses or seals in your fuel system. So if your car uses some sort of rubber in the fuel system, it’s important to switch to components that won’t fall apart when you fill your tank with biodiesel.
Engine conversion to run on vegetable oil
The easiest way to convert a diesel engine to run on vegetable oil is to buy a kit specifically designed for your vehicle, but there are two main factors to consider. The first problem is that vegetable oil tends to become very thick when cold, and the other problem is that used vegetable oil contains many impurities and particles.
The first problem is solved in two ways: starting and stopping the engine on conventional diesel or biodiesel, and preheating vegetable oil before combustion.
With this in mind, SVO and WVO conversion kits usually come with an auxiliary fuel tank to hold frying oil, fuel lines and valves, filters, heaters and other components necessary to complete the conversion process.
Another problem is primarily solved by pre-filtering the vegetable oil, which means that you need to filter the oil by hand after getting it from the restaurant. After the oil has been manually filtered and added to the auxiliary fuel tank, it will be filtered at least one more time through an inline filter that must be installed in the system.
Converting vegetable oil to biodiesel
If converting an engine to run on biodiesel by replacing a few fuel lines sounds like a better idea than installing complete conversion kit , but the idea of free fuel from local restaurants is too good to let go, then you can flip the cooking oil. in biodiesel may be of interest.