View Full Version : SVO Coconut Oil for genset setup??

9th July 2009, 05:26 PM
Hey All!
New here but have been doing a lot of research and have seriously been playing around with the idea of running some generators on straight coconut oil (mostly likely a two tank setup). I'm currently working in Indonesia again and am surrounded by nothing but coconuts and yet our generators that we run 24/7 (3 currently in rotation) are run on straight dino diesel that has to be imported all the way from the main land... which is shipped in from Singapore... talk about a huge carbon foot print!!

So the facts:
1. It must be a viable long term setup
-aka: not ruin the engines
2. We currently have 2 yanmar TF300H-di engines running a Matari 20kw genset each and one other Mitsubishi engine (haven't been able to find model number) that came from a truck and it has 30kw genset
3. We have access to more then enough copra in our area (dried coconut meat)
4. We are in a relatively hot region but still plan on heating oil first for maximum life time.
5. Are coconuts ideal for an SVO conversion because I know they have a lot of properties that differ from other vegetable oils?

So the situation. I have some support behind me on this if I can prove it is a win win situation. What I'd most like to know is that if these engines are a good candidate for a SVO conversion. I already know that since it's a DI engine over an IDI engine that it might not be the best. Another worry of mine is oil quality. Here the locals dry their coconuts by burning the husks and other material under them in open air pits, I assume that adds some undesirable contaminants to the oil but is that something that can be removed with a good filtration setup or should a different closed system "kiln" be designed to remove that risk?

I've read some about the lister type engines being a good candidate for SVO genset operations but I'm not sure if there would be any big enough for an application like this. My one idea is to start out with a smaller engine of this type and separate some of our power grid to be solely run by it so I can start to dial in the whole process and see if it is sustainable instead of damaging one of our bigger more expensive engines. If that works out I might even be able to persuade in the purchase of some other engines for our main generators if they weren't a ridiculous price and better setup for this kind of conversion (any thoughts?).

One of my other concerns is that the part of Indonesia I'm in ( a remote island in the mentawais) that it is hard to find proper parts and proper equipment that's why it is important that things not break and some engine/equipment options might be hard to source. Out here it is definitely keep is simple stupid! Everything has to come in by a long boat (6 hour trip in our fastest boat to the mainland) and must be hand lifted out and hand carried to it's location... including the engines we already have brought in!!

I'm sure I'm missing a lot of necessary details at this point but just wanted to get the main idea across of what I'd like to do and some of the parameters. So any input would be great and let me know whatever questions you have and I'll get back to you asap!!
Cheers Guys and great Forum!
Neca (Brandon)

9th July 2009, 11:58 PM
Without going into specifics that is quite a bit of info around on running on coconut oil

vehicles running on coconut oil australia - Google Search (http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=vehicles+running+on+coconut+oil+australia&btnG=Google+Search&meta)=

some of this might help you out?

The major issue with it ( there was a programme in Austrlia on it a while back) is that it goes solid at quite a high temp (25deg C)


Tony From West Oz
10th July 2009, 01:01 AM
Coconut oil has the lowest Iodine Number of all vegetable oils. As such, polymerisation of the oil is extremely unlikely. This makes it an ideal choice for use as a diesel fuel, providing it's high melting point can be managed.

Do a search on the forum for Iodine Number and the web for Iodine Number and Coconut Oil. You should get sufficient information to help you decide whether to use the oil.

I am reluctant to use SVO or WVO in a stationary or marine diesel due to the fact that they usually operate for long periods of time at a fixed RPM and/or load. This compares with diesel engines in motor vehicles which use the whole RPM and load range of the engine. I believe that this varied RPM and load causes any deposits in the combustion chamber to be burnt off during these variations.

My early research also showed that test diesels were usually DI and operated with a generator to allow convenient load adjustment. There were only 1 or 2 examples where ring coking was not recorded.

I suggest that you use the oil in a non-essential application until you are comfortable using it in essential applications, or where engine damage could require expensive repairs/endangerment to life and limb.

Best wishes,

10th July 2009, 12:06 PM
hey guys, i'm not sure if it would be relevant in this application, but i have been looking into water injection and one of the benefits seems to be cleaning of carbon deposits in the combustion chamber. i'm sure with all the accumulated knowlege here someone may know if this is could be a viable solution.

Tony From West Oz
10th July 2009, 11:15 PM
There are a number of threads on this forum, on this topic.

Please use the search function and have a good read.


11th July 2009, 06:25 PM
wasn't actually asking for my own benefit Tony, i just thought it may be a sollution to the ring coking in the generator engine. not sure how well it would go with constant low revs. just throwing it out there;)

12th July 2009, 04:37 PM
Thanks guys! I've already read a fair amount on the topic and have read several books on bio diesel as that was my original plan, but like I said before, on the islands the simpler the better. I had also talked to a group working on coconut bio diesel up in north Indo but they said they were having a lot of problems with the purity of the chemicals they were getting from their suppliers. That's why I've put that idea off for now and am looking into SVO.

The problem I've been having though is that a lot of articles and research talk about the possibility of it, but there's never really follow up information on how the setup is going. That's why I was hoping to find some hands on information from people that have used it themselves or have knowledge of the long term success/problems.

I know generator setups are definitely at a disadvantage over automotive applications as mentioned by Tony because they run at constant rpm's. I have also read that using a load bank to pull full charge on the generator or simply revving it up and running it every so often will help get rid of this build up. I think water injection holds some ground for this type of application too as I had researched this back in the day and actually installed a setup on my 65' mustang because it is just the 6 cyl model and the head/intake are designed terribly.

If anybody knows any information about setups that have run for a year or more that'd be awesome or if any of you have hands on experience with them. I do think the route I will go is to start out with a smaller cheaper generator before trying to switch over to the bigger ones, but I'd still like to learn as much as possible :).

Tony From West Oz
13th July 2009, 02:02 AM
I now recall that a group in Fiji was researching the use of coconut oil in diesel generators and contacted me about 5 years ago. There were a number of groups working in the Pacific Islands on the issues with using CNO in DI diesel generators.
I did a quick google and found a number of hits for ["coconut oil" diesel Fiji]
"coconut oil" diesel fiji - Google Search (http://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22coconut+oil%22+diesel+fiji)
I have had a look at http://www.sopac.org/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=1920 and it shows a large number of diesel generators using CNO. Note that on DI engines, CNO is used only when output exceeds 70% of engine rating, to ensure that combustion temperatures are high enough to prevent engine coking.

I believe that that ias the key to using CNO in DI diesel generators and marine diesels.

I hope it works well for you.