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Thread: FAQ #1, otherwise known as a good place to start

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Perth Western Australia

    FAQ #1, otherwise known as a good place to start

    Welcome to the Vege Oil Users section of the Biofuels Forum based in Australia.

    Here we discuss running your diesel powered engine on vegetable oil or animal fat. Other terms we use are SVO for Straight Vegetable Oil and WVO, Waste Vegetable Oil.

    • We DO NOT support the clearing of rainforests or other unsustainable practices to produce oil to use as fuel.
    • We DO NOT support the use of new food grade oil as fuel.
    • We DO support the use of waste oil from the restaurant trade as fuel.

    This FAQ does not contain irrefutable facts. It contains information gleaned from many sources over many years and is the combined wisdom and experience of a number of Australians. We offer no promises the information we provide is totally accurate and reliable. We do our best and like evidence based solutions, but what you do is up to you.

    If you’ve come here to learn how to run your petrol powered engine on Vege, we’re 100% sure it can’t be done. You’re welcome to read on, but you MUST NOT add SVO to your petrol tank.

    If you want to run your vehicle on BioDiesel, please go to the other section of this forum. Biodiesel is made from vege oil and converted into a different form by a chemical process. We do not change the nature of the oil and we use it in it’s raw form – though filtered.

    A diesel owner has several options.
    1. Buy distillate from servo.
    2. Buy commercial biodiesel.
    3. Buy new vegetable oil and convert it to biodiesel.
    4. Collect used vegetable oil (WVO) and convert it to biodiesel.
    5. Use a blend of any of the above.
    6. Convert the vehicle to use vegetable oil (SVO) as fuel.
    6a. single tank conversion - start on veg.
    6b. 2 tank conversion - start on distillate or bio.
    If using vegetable oil as fuel (vehicle converted) can use new SVO or used WVO. WVO needs to be filtered and possibly dried before use.

    The simplest option is 1. Next is 2. 5 is pretty simple. 3 and 4 are pretty equal.
    There is ongoing discussion over whether it is simpler to convert the vehicle and filter the WVO for use or to leave the vehicle as is and convert the WVO to biodiesel. Basically it comes down to personal preference and the suitability of the vehicle you own.

    If you’ve come here wanting all the answers in one place, we’ll do our best to help you, but you must be prepared to learn many things for yourself. You are venturing into the mysterious world of alternative fuels and your engine manufacturer did not build your engine to run on these fuels. There are risks and there are successes, but there are no simple easy solutions. You must be prepared to try to understand the information in the FAQ’s and learn how it applies to your own vehicle before asking questions on the forum. There is a search function for this forum and there is Google. There is a great deal of information on the internet, you WILL get confused initially.

    Some places you can go to find out basic information about diesel engines are:
    Wikipedia Diesel Engine Diesel engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Wikipedia Injection Pump Injection pump - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Please now read the second FAQ.
    Last edited by Tim-HJ61; 7th July 2011 at 02:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Perth Western Australia

    Faq #2

    Part Two of the FAQ - The anti confusion rules say you must start at FAQ #1. Above

    Continuing right along.......

    How SVO works in a diesel engine.

    Vegetable oil burns inside your combustion chamber in the same way diesel does, more or less. The injectors supply a measured amount of fuel and it explodes, or burns quickly to be more accurate. The challenge you face will be to get the viscous oil into your combustion chamber in a way that makes the engine happy.

    There are other links that describe this process:

    You must thin the oil to make it less viscous. You can do this in two ways which can be used together or separately.
    1. Blending. You thin the oil using another fuel. This could be BioDiesel, Diesel, ULP – unleaded petrol, kerosene to name some common options. Blending vegetable oil with a light solvent, such as petrol, is a common way of burn vegetable oil in a diesel engine. It is fairly easy to do, compared to making biodiesel, and it runs on any diesel engine without conversion, like biodiesel. The method of blending is basically: mix dirty waste vegetable oil (WVO) at 85% with petrol (ULP) at 15%. Leave it to settle for 1-3 days, then drain off the sludge at the bottom of the tank and filter.

    A word on legality of blending. To stop fuel companies diluting their products, there are taxation laws which prohibit the blending of an excisable fuel – diesel, biodiesel and unleaded petrol, with non excisable fuel – vege oil. In short, if you blend your fuels you are breaking tax laws.

    2. Heating. The other way of thinning the fuel is by heating. We find heating the oil to over 70°C is adequate, 80° to 90° ideal, over that …. We don’t know much about.

    For discussions on blending see these links:

    There are three sources of heat in an engine.
    1. Electrical
    Electrical is quick and may help quick warm up, but requires large current drain

    2. Exhaust
    Exhaust heat is variable and difficult to capture and regulate to manageable temperatures without overheating

    3. Coolant.
    Coolant is slow to heat up, but reliably regulated by the thermostat and uses excess heat so is free. The common way of using coolant is a Flat Plate Heat Exchanger – FPHE. Two 30 plate FPHE is regarded as best practice, one before the filters, one just before the injection pump. Many people use one heat exchanger satisfactorily.

    Links to options on the various forms of heating options are going to be added here later.

    It is common practice to start your engine on diesel, wait until the vege reaches a suitable temperature – 60°C is regarded as a good changeover temperature – then switch to your thinned oil. Before you turn your engine off for a period of over a couple of hours, you switch back to diesel for enough time to purge all the SVO from your injector pump and your injectors. The length of time required for purging is a matter of your individual setup but there are related discussions here:

    Things you need to know:

    1. What your engine model number is. Not just your vehicle make and model, but the engine.

    2. What type of injection pump your engine has. You need to figure this stuff out. It is your first test.

    3. Whether your engine has direct injection or indirect injection. If your engine is a direct injection, you MUST follow particular procedures and can read the reasons why here.
    • If your engine is indirect injection it is much more amenable to using SVO without problems.
    • If your engine has common rail direct injection, it can run on WVO but you must do a great deal more research to satisfy yourself you are doing the right things.
    • If your engine is a US Powerstroke or Duramax, read here for information. Diesel Place - Duramax Diesel Discussion Forums

    4. Where you are going to get your oil supply from and what type of oil it is. See the links here to help you determine the suitable oils.

    5. Whether others on this forum have successfully converted your engine/vehicle type. See this link.

    6. You need to understand your own capacity and preparedness to take the inherent risks involved in fuelling with alternative fuels. If you cannot face anything more complex than you already experience filling at the fuel station bowser, this is not for you. If you think you can work outside the square, are handy mechanically and have the time for this, then keep going – one step at a time.

    7. You must have space and time to collect, filter and store your oil. Most people say this takes less than 3 hours a week once your system is setup.

    Collecting, Filtering and Storing your oil.

    There are plenty of ideas in this forum on how to filter and store your supply of the golden fuel. There are no easy commercial solutions and you generally have to cobble together a number of components.

    Some people use gravity and long filter bags
    Some people use ‘house’ filters with disposable cartridges and a pump to filter their oil.
    Gravity and time are excellent methods of getting your oil clean. An upflow settling system is excellent.
    Many onboard filtration and fuel tank problems are caused by inadequate home filtration. Do it right at home and your on road life will be much easier. - post26180

    How long can you store Oil?

    How do you move oil?

    1. Transfer pumps move oil at high volume low pressure.
    Standard ‘drum pumps’ both rotary and push-pull are effective transfer pumps. Some 240V electric pumps are effective, others not.

    2. Pumps for pressure are capable of pushing oil through filters.
    Gear pumps, or hydraulic pumps driven by electric motors are effective and can push high volume high pressure. Power steering pumps are hydraulic pumps, and gear pumps can be found in hydraulic suppliers and disposal centres. - post23631

    3. On board pumps provide positive pressure to the inlet of the injection pump.
    Not all conversions need on board pumps. Many aftermarket fuel and diesel onboard pumps are inadequate for SVO. Do not assume you need a pump. You must get adequate flow to the Injection pump, not necessarily pressure. Larger fuel lines – 12 mm ID – and or heated fuel lines are generally all that is needed.

    4. Vacuum pumps
    Air compressor assisted pumping.

    Things that can go wrong:

    Plain steel long range tanks, particularly found in 4WD’s most likely need to be coated internally before used for WVO. Some people haven’t had trouble, others have.
    A paint type product/process called POR-15 available via POR-15 Shop - Links has proven effective. The product is poured into the tank, which is then rolled around and around to distribute the paint. It’s preferable the tank is removed from the car first, otherwise you will get dizzy from all the rotations necessary.

    Gunge in Injector Pumps

    Direct injection – see the sticky -
    Last edited by Tim-HJ61; 21st April 2014 at 09:39 PM. Reason: Adjusted blending ratio

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Perth Western Australia

    Ten simple principles.

    Conversion to WVO 101. Ten simple principles.

    1. Ensure your oil is of adequate quality. It must not contain fats. It must not contain water. Do a search for ‘hot pan test’ or ‘drying oil’ to find out how to test.
    2. Filter your oil to 5 micron at least. Optimal is 1 micron.
    3. Put your oil into your WVO tank. This can be the main vehicle tank, or a separate one. Some people use a plastic cubie – 20 or 25 litre drum - in their boot until they get themselves organised better. There are specialist suppliers of suitable plastic tanks that some forum members have found suitable for their vehicle.
    4. Ensure your fuel lines are of adequate size to allow easy flow of cold oil to the engine and not demand the lift pump suck too hard. If it does, fuel starvation is likely to occur. Some vehicles might get away with 10mm fuel lines. In most vehicles 12mm is quite adequate. 16mm is overkill for normal car and 4WD installations. Nitrile rubber and nylon air hose are commonly used. There is some evidence copper should not come into contact with SVO. download Joe Beatty’s article
    5. Install a flat plate heat exchanger using the heater lines of the engine to heat the fuel. FPHE work better contra flow, with the coolant flowing the opposite direction to the oil. A FPHE is best mounted vertically but can be successful horizontal. Once air is expelled either orientation Is effective. Supplying the FPHE from heater connections at the rear of the motor is likely to provide hotter coolant than at the front of the motor. Insulation of the FPHE can be done with the leg of a wetsuit cut to suit, or a camping mat covered in waterproof tape and wrapped tightly.
    6. Install a filter after your WVO tank and before your IP. See point 7 for guidance where to install it. We have learnt that all paper filters are not the same. Some, such as Fleetgaurd and their copies like Sakura, do not have a special coating that coalesces water particles in diesel fuel. This coating is a good thing in diesel but seems to cause grief (it blocks easily) to vege oil and, as we make sure our fuel does not contain water, we do not need this coating in our filters. Hence the common recommendation to use to Fleetguard filters. Or ask your filter supplier which of their filter have, or don't have, the coalescing feature.
    7. Install a valve to select between diesel and WVO. This is best installed AFTER the vehicles standard fuel filter so if you have vege filter system problems, you can switch back to diesel to get yourself home. 6 way Pollak valves are most common and electric making it easy to mount a switch inside the car. Cable operated three way mechanical valves are also an option. Heavy duty solenoids from the hydraulics industry are another option. On one side of the three way valve is the WVO tank. Port two is the standard vehicle diesel fuel supply and port three is the outlet to the injection pump. A 6 port Pollak is simply two three port valves that are driven by the same motor. They are designed to switch diesel from main to auxiliary tanks with one set of ports being 10mm and the return 8mm. They are rated at 80°C maximum.
      Some people keep their system completely manual and have hand operated three way valves under the bonnet or in some other convenient location.
    Last edited by Robert; 5th July 2011 at 11:26 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Re: Ten simple principles.

    (apologies for splitting this post into 2 - I have had some strange problems with the forum not accepting certain text)

    8. If your vehicle has a return line from the injection pump, instal another valve, or use the other ports on a 6 port Pollak valve, to send the return flow back to either the wvo tank or the diesel tank. Port one is the inlet from the return feed of the injection pump, port two is the vehicle diesel tank and port three is the WVO tank.

    9. It is good practice to keep as much heated oil in the engine bay and not return it to the tank. You achieve this by taking the return fuel line and TEEing into the fuel inlet supply line.

    10. Insulate all your hot lines to maximise your heat retention. Clark Rubber sell a variety of sizes of suitable hose insulation. Don't buy clamps in pretty bubble wrap packs, you're likely to need 30. Buy a box full or two.

    There are many ways to improve a basic setup. You have to figure a lot of this out yourself but you are likely to want to focus on automation, viscosity and flow.

    • An extra heat exchanger can be added after the filter to reheat oil cooled through the filter.
    • Two three way valves can be installed instead of one 6 way to allow a time delay when purging and minimising the amount of oil that goes into the diesel tank.
    • Your system can be automated by the use of various kits from Jaycar, relays, turbo timers or commercially available kits and add ons.
    • If you feel the ports on the Pollaks are too small and may restrict flow, you can spend a lot of money on larger hydraulic solenoids, or 12mm three way ball valves.
    • Install a heated fuel pickup and heated fuel lines so you can melt and fats that become solid in your system. It is recommended developing a fat based system be left alone until you become experienced using liquid oil.

    Once you have understood all the above the best you can, try making a plan of what you want to do next, fill in any gaps in your knowledge through more searching and if you need clarification, post an item on our forum. We are much more likely to give our time to answer your query if we can see you have tried to find out as much as you can.

    This FAQ has drawn on contributions to the forum by several people. Thank them by respecting their views, presenting your own clever solutions to problems you come across so we can all learn, and sharing your successes with the forum.

    If we find this information is being used for profit we will be very cross and we will inject your fuel system with algae spores and your fuel tank with polymerised oil. If you cannot resist taking this information, do the right thing and acknowledge were you got it from.

    Enjoy your learning curve!

    (posted on behalf of Tim as above)

    Update: Paper on WVO in common rail engines.
    Last edited by Tim-HJ61; 21st April 2014 at 09:49 PM. Reason: updated links
    Site Admin.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Perth Western Australia

    Re: FAQ #1, otherwise known as a good place to start


    Vegetable oil is not as stable as fossil fuel. You need to be aware of the causes, symptoms and solutions to oxidation. It can be a real nuisance.

    Using this search string in Google will get you started.



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