View Full Version : Wannabe SVO/WVO User

6th November 2005, 01:28 PM
Hi All,

This is my first post and I feel I must express the same enthusiasm as Olaf that I have found a forum here dedicated to the use of biofuels and more particularly the use of SVO/WVO.

I am currently looking to select and acquire a suitable vehicle for a 2 tank conversion. My preference is for a van and from my enquiries so far feel that a VW T4 Transporter 2.5 turbo diesel built later than 1996 but not including the latest model (T5) should suit the conversion. Has anyone had any experience with conversion of VW's particularly the Transporter here in Australia?

Also like to hear from others on commercially supplied kits and components, at this stage I like the look of the Plantdrive system which is available here in Australia from www.bebioenergy.com

Thanks in advance,


Tony From West Oz
7th November 2005, 01:59 AM
I do not have any experience with that particular vehicle.

Does it have an in-line IP or a rotary IP, or does it have the PD injection system?

If the engine has an in-line or rotary IP, the conversion should be straight forward. If your engine has Common Rail or PD injection systems I do not recommend these as candidates for UCO conversion without further research into the possible pitfalls and precautions needed to successfully operate on UCO, while not adversely affecting engine life and maintenance issues.

If converting either an in-line IP or a Rotary IP equipped engine I recommend installing a fully heated UCO fuel system, so that when liquid oils are difficult to obtain, you can use the still plentiful high melting point oils without further modification This entails installing an insulated UCO tank with external heating coolant loop (under the tank), Hose On Hose fuel lines to the engine bay and heated fuel filter. With a rotary IP, I advise heating all fuel before the IP, to minimise possible failure of the IP when temperature differences between the start fuel and UCO cause "thermal shock" to the IP.
If Diesel is to be used for any extended time, a control valve fitted to the coolant line to the fuel heater can be closed to prevent prolonged use of heated diesel (and further loss of lubricity, resulting in accelerated wear).

7th November 2005, 11:37 AM
Hi Tony,

Thanks for your reply.

I believe these vehicles are not common rail and the injection pumps used is a inline type which is described by VW as "Pumpe Düse", further info at www.volkswagen.com.au/2004/dieseltechnicalglossary/pumpeDuse.htm

With regard to UCO tank heating is there not some debate on the effects of heating the entire tank volume and oxidisation of the oil? The plantdrive system I was looking at as far as I understand it from the limited info I have does not return oil to the tank (reducing the electrical oil heating load) and no tank heater. They also use coolant heating in a combined heater, water separator and filter but they don't necessarily heat the entire tank, which is fine I guess if your only using SVO / WVO without animal fats or SVO with high melting point. I was also considering the use of a lift pump with a preheater between the tank (or heated fuel pick up) and the lift pump in attempt to maintain positive pressure at the IP pump inlet.

Also, your advice for heating BOTH fuels is in your experience only necessary with rotary pumps? I am trying to avoid anything with a rotary pump as I'm told inline pumps are more tolerant of the changes in viscosity.



12th November 2005, 07:30 PM
Hi Cheeky,
the VW injection system is not common rail as you correctly point out. Unfortunately, that does not mean that it is using an inline (or rotary style) injection pump.
VW is using its own system of direct injection, where each cylinder has its own integrated injection AND injector unit (Pumpe Duese). The "common rail" is thereby eliminated. Since it is a direct injection engine using pressures of 30,000psi or more I do not consider it suitable for waste vegetable oil. Elsbett (one of the better companies selling SVO conversion kits) offers a single tank converison kit for these engines:
Please note that the VW Transporter appears to have had a significant engine change from 1995 onward. That is also reflected in the Elsbett converion kit prices (pre 1995 ~Euro 800, post 95 ~Euro 1180)
Very important: All Elsbett kits include changes to the injectors and glow plugs and state that SVO (new oil to European standards) only should be used.
Please have a look at a thread on this site (one tank conversion ELSBETT) in which both Tony and I have talked about single tank conversions and their shortcomings.
Recap: It appears that pre 1995 Transporters may well be using pre-combustion chamber and inline or rotary injection pumps but you'll need to confirm that for yourself. If that is the case, a two tank conversion should be ok.
Post 1995 Transporters are direct injection engines, with T5's using the new VW "Pumpe Duese" integrated pump & injector technology. I do NOT consider either of these engines good candidates, but there are plenty of conversions of these engines running in Germany and other parts of Europe.
Quick Suitability guide:
Pre combustion (swirl chamber) & inline injection pump = :D
Pre combustion (swirl chamber) & rotary (ZEXEL, Etc) pump = :o
Any Lucus style pump = :mad:
Direct Injection, common rail, pumpe duese, etc = :confused:
Hope this helps,

18th November 2005, 11:28 PM
Hi Olaf,

Thanks for your reply. At the time of your reply I was already under contract to purchase a 98 VW Transporter for conversion to SVO / WVO. I am intending to get most of my components from Plantdrive and was able to confirm a few things about the suitability of the vehicle and injection pump in particular with them before my cooling off period expired. The vehicle is fitted with a 2.4L direct injected naturally aspirated engine and a Bosch VE type rotary injection pump. While it’s seems to be difficult to find spot on information from anyone who has actually converted this vehicle it seems that many others have successfully converted DI VW engines and also with same type of IP, not necessarily in the exact same combination as this one but still consensus is that it should be OK (no guarantee’s of course). While these IP’s are considered from the experience of others to be less robust than inline pumps they are still suggested as suitable candidates. I pick up the vehicle tomorrow and will probably order my components in the next month after figuring what and how much of everything is needed, I will post my progress as I go. I have arranged to purchase my first 1000 L of WVO at a fraction of the price of diesel but am yet to decide how I will settle, dewater and filter it. I have also sourced a IBC (bulk liquid pallet container) which should give a reasonable buffer for both collecting and holding capacity for settling. Be interested to hear / see what you have set up.

Also you mention spare Pollak valves on your website, do you have any spares at the moment for sale and if so are they new?


Cheeky ;)

20th November 2005, 09:09 PM
Hi Cheeky,
I do have a spare Pollak Valve - its new and comes with the switch, harness and wiring diagram ($150.00 + Postage).
My only experience with a rotary style IP's is as follows:
I have converted the Mazda Pickup truck of my WVO supplier mate. Its a 2.5ltr INDIRECT Injection Diesel, turbo charged with a Zexel Rotary (distributor type) IP.
To put your mind at ease - its working very well!
But not with some pain on the way.
1st Problem - Fuel supply pump:
The Zexel IP does not appear to have a lift pump (at least not externally visible as has the inline IP on my 300D).
It is not strong enough to suck WVO from the tank and needs to be supplemented by a suitable 12 volt fuel pump. I have tried 4 (four) different designs, starting with two cheap ($70.00) standard types available from Autobarn, etc - no go. They just don't generate enough pressure to push the WVO throught the fuel filter at sufficient quantity.
Next I bought a Holley Blue (vane type) high performance pump ($200.00). It worked just fine - once! After that, the WVO remaining in the pump will clog up the vanes and they will not spin out to form a good enough seal to make it work again. Flushing it with diesel or petrol will make it go again, but again only once. Heating the oil before it gets to the pump is one way of overcomming this problem - but I didn't feel it was worth the effort. Anyhow, the Holley blue pump is incredibly noisy to boot!
Finally settled on a Mallory Gerotor pump (only available directly from the US -(at least at a reasonble price) Aus $220.00). The pump is very quite, has an internal pressure bypass (4PSI) and works every time.
2nd Problem:
While trying to solve the pump problem I re-routed the return line to before the pump. Reasoning: The hot return line WVO would a) make the pump go better and b) make the oil pass through the WVO filter easier, thus aiding the pump.
This had a very unexpected side-effect. The fuel filter I use is a standard diesel type with a glass bowl and a metal cannister containing the filter paper. This paper started to disintegrate from the hot oil and fill the tiny metal screen filter inside the IP (last line of defence).
I have been told consequently by the fuel filter supplier, that these 'standard' cartridges are not suitable for hot oil. Now, I have not read that anywhere in the SVO/WVO community web pages - so I am a bit surprised...
The solution (according to the filter supplier): Use an engine oilfilter instead. 'Standard' cannister holders are availble from Fuel/Hydraulic suppliers.
Best regards,

I am currently integrating my wiring diagram with a semi automatic turbo timer, so that the engine will run for a set time (~3 min) after switch off on Diesel if it was still running on WVO (I keep forgetting to switch back to diesel 3 kilomters before I get home).
My setup has a three position toggle switch:
1 - Automatic (will switch to WVO if temp reaches 70Degs) Blue LED
2 - Diesel (Red LED)
3 - WVO (Green LED)
plus a push button to override turbo timer (to force engine to stop if required).
plus a rotary knob to adjust LED brightness (for night time driving - will be replaced by a light sensitive resistor for auto adjust)
I am working on a PC board that will combine all components for easy installation.

21st November 2005, 08:47 AM
Hi Olaf,

The semi-automatic timer sounds like a good idea. I've been waiting for someone to build such a device, or was toying with the idea of building one as well. One of the biggest problems with the svo/wco conversions is the forgetting to flick the switch bit. I wanted to get my wife an old Peugeot and convert it, but I just know that she would forget to switch. If it could have some failsafe and just do it automatically, then it would be "idiot proof". Interested to hear any developments on this. Please post details/photos of it when ready.

Oh, just one suggestion, now that search engine spiders are so frequently crawling this site, it is getting good listings (googling "pollak valve" gets some posts here on the 1st page, with more specific searches like "pollak valve mazda" getting #1). This unfortunately also means that spam spiders will probably also be crawling this site and seeking any publically published emails. While the email that you give for your registration is kept private, anything that you post will be grabbed and put on a spammer's list. It's only a matter of time. I'd suggest offering for people to contact you via private message through the site. You can turn an option on in your control panel for the site to email you when you recieve private messages, so it's just one extra layer of security for you. I'd suggest you edit your last post to private message rather than giving your email, or eventually you'll get spammed. Once you get on enough spammer's lists, there's nothing you can do about it.

21st November 2005, 10:48 PM
Thanks for the reply Olaf. I must admit that your first post sent me into a bit of spin as I was already under contract and doing my best to determine if the vehicle would be OK to convert. In the end the consensus was that the Bosch rotary VE type IP would, although not considered the MOST robust, do the job. As for the VW direct injection engine there have many converted already, time will tell how much pain I will endure to convert this one.

I was also considering using a lift pump in an attempt to try and overcome the increased viscosity and maintain a positive pressure at the IP inlet. I was considering a Plantdrive vegpump electric lift pump I think it’s around US$110 and theoretically is built for the job. Are there any issues with feeding the IP with too high a pressure, would I need to consider using a bypass pressure regulator?

At this stage I am considering controls such as timers and auto temperature changeover to be optional and a possible add in later. A great way to add control and instrumentation functions to the system would be to use Picaxe microcontrollers. These are very affordable and can be setup by anyone with basic electronics and basic programming skills. All programming is in a “basic” language and the products are very well supported by an excellent forum. For more information checkout


also http://www.microzed.com.au/


Cheeky ;)

22nd November 2005, 06:40 PM
Hi Robert,
Thanks for the reminder that my email address has no place in an open forum. Cheeky has contacted me already, so I have removed it.
The engine 'stay on' timer is simply a turbo timer kit from Jaycar ($39.95 from memory). It allows temperature input - if the engine has not yet reached 70 degrees (short trips on diesel only) it will not operate, it has an optional alarm relay to deal with car alarm issues and a reset push button to stop the engine any time during the 'stay on' cycle. It does need some resistor and/or capacitor changes to set the wanted 'stay on' time, which depends on your type of conversion (I will add a pot to vary the time from 1 to say 5 minutes).
The turbo timer can be used by itself, of course, but I am integrating it with my current setup to make it less messy and consolidate the components into one box.
Actually, any simple timer circuit kit would do the trick also, I guess. All it needs is some very basic electronic componentry and circuit knowledge.
I'll keep you posted when I have finished the project - if you find it useful you'll be welcome to a copy of it.
Best regards,

Tony From West Oz
24th November 2005, 02:06 AM
As you are both using rotary IPs, you would be well advised to measure the return line oil temperature, to judge when to change to UCO. By installing a heat exchanger between the Pollak valve and the IP inlet, you will preheat the IP before c/o to UCO. In this way, the IP will not be subjected to "thermal shock" of hot coolant or cold diesel being passed to it during changeover. Most reports of problems with rotary IPs have been related to cold oil and or cold IP at changeover. A ball valve inline with the coolant flow to the heat exchanger can isolate the heat if extended periods of diesel use is to occur.

The VW TDI and DI engines use a "cup" shaped combustion chamber in the piston to act as a combustion chamber. Any unburned UCO will remain in this cup, and will not cause ring coking (or at least that is the theory). This design bears striking similarities with the Elsbett engine piston (crown) design.

Many VW TDI engines have been converted to 2 tank UCO and few have reported problems to my knowledge. Check on the "TDI Forum" for feedbacck on these conversions.

The Pump Deuse injectors are of a "unit injector" type and little research has been done on operating these on SVO, let alone UCO. One member of WARFA is running a Golf with the PD engine on B100, with no issues so far.

Dont forget, when making "idiot proof" designs, just how resourceful idiots can be ;) My Turbo Timer, (UCO purge timer) had a timer bypass feature (the same design) and I used it extensively, leaving me unable to start the engine on more than one occasion, when the engine cooled down before I went to restart it. I was resourceful, wasn't I.

3rd December 2005, 08:27 PM
Hi Tony,

Unless I have misunderstood you this would mean heating the diesel at when changing over AND changing back, and the manual ball valve for extended running on diesel. Given that the fuel temp difference is only about 30 deg C and the pumps close mounting proximity to the engine is likely to reduce this difference is the added complications of doing this worth while?

I guess there are other options for controlling diesel temperature to achieve ramp up & down, probably the easiest of which would be electric heating controlled with temperature regulated pulse width modulation. It's all possible but there's lot of effort in doing it.

Any thoughts,

Cheeky :confused:

Tony From West Oz
4th December 2005, 12:07 AM
Hi Tony,

Unless I have misunderstood you this would mean heating the diesel at when changing over AND changing back, and the manual ball valve for extended running on diesel. You understand correctly, but if you didn't want the valve in the coolant line, you could just add some oil to the diesel tank at around 1-2% ratio and it would ensure sufficient lubrication of the IP.
Given that the fuel temp difference is only about 30 deg C and the pumps close mounting proximity to the engine is likely to reduce this difference is the added complications of doing this worth while?How did you determine that the temperature difference would only be 30°C? I would expect overnight minimum temperatures of between 0 and 10°C in most parts of Oz (tropics excepted) and coolant operating temperatures of in the vicinity of 80°C.

I guess there are other options for controlling diesel temperature to achieve ramp up & down, probably the easiest of which would be electric heating controlled with temperature regulated pulse width modulation. It's all possible but there's lot of effort in doing it.

Any thoughts,

Cheeky :confused:
As you say, there is a lot of effort in the design and installation an electronic heating controller.
As coolant heat is temperature controlled, is free and does not add to the engine load, or compromise battery recharging times, I do not recommend electrical heating except in frigid climates.
The main purpose of the fuel heater in the common fuel line, is to preheat the IP, so that cold UCO (~10°C) is not introduced into the rotary IP. As the diesel will be heating the IP before changeover, and after change-back, there should be no issues with thermal shock or cold oil viscosity in the IP. We are not trying to "Ramp down" the IP temperature, just preventing cold fuel entering the IP. The heater is required for the UCO, and could be located before the changeover valve, if preheating of the IP was not considered essential.

I heat the UCO before the added lift pump, the heated fuel passes thru the filter (which will soon have it's own heater) and then thru another heater, to heat the cold oil from the filter (before the UCO system temperatures have stabilised)

What would be different if you were to use electric heating?

4th December 2005, 09:04 PM
Hi Tony,

Thanks for your reply.

I may have been a little optimistic and underestimated the temperature difference but I am located in SE QLD, I would also expect (I will test this one) that IP temperature would rise fairly quickly from ambient temperature on start up due to both the work being done by it and its close proximity with the engine, I guess I need to spend some time testing possibly fit a temperature probe to the IP and or it's return as you suggest and see what happens from a cold start running on diesel.

In regard to the electric heating I am only considering it as a regulated supplementary source of heat. I am planning to use coolant heat but I also plan to use electric heat just before fuel enters the IP. I am yet decide if I will make this heater or use Plantdrives vegtherm unit which is since it is self regulating should consume little power if coolant heating has done the job.

The vegtherm is by far the simplest approach to electric heating, if I were develop my own I’m certain I’ll have some hurdles to overcome but I would be able to choose my own operating set point (which could be well above what could be achieved with coolant) and rate at which this was approached.

You mentioned that you heat the oil before your lift pump, is this only point where you are heating it? And what UCO temps are achieving at what coolant temp? I guess what I’m concerned with is the maximum rated temperature of all the components in the line, in particular the filter and the Pollak valve (which I was advised is only rated to 180 deg F or 82 deg C)



Tony From West Oz
9th December 2005, 03:12 AM
Hi Cheeky,
I have a home made heat exchanger which has 2, 5mm * 1 metre copper pipes immersed in coolant. One is connected before my Holley blue fuel pump and the other after the fuel selection valve, immediately prior to the IP.
Thus my holley Blue, which is not happy on cold UCO, gets heated fast, and provided pressurised hot fuel to the CAV filter. As the filter is cold at start-up and has exposure to the wind (near the radiator fan), the second heater compensates and boosts the fuel temperature to >50°C (although this takes a significant time to reach).
I am not happy with the temperatures achieved, or the time taken to achieve them, so am buying a Flat Plate Heat Exchanger, which I believe will provide UCO temperatures of approx 70°C with UCO at 10°C in the tank.

9th December 2005, 06:26 PM
Hi Tony,

Have you done any experimentation or attempted any calculations on your heat exchanger design? I'd be interested in any of the numbers like coolant, oil temperatures, flow rates etc. I am refrigeration mechanic (amongst other things :D ) and I have previously done a reasonable amount with experimentation, design and testing of small heat exchangers so I may be able to help if you would like to improve on what you have

The plate heat exchangers certainly maximise surface area in a small space but they are an expensive item new, and hard to come by second hand particularly in good condition and not fouled.


Tony From West Oz
12th December 2005, 03:33 AM
I have been quoted $US88.79, plus freight, plus GST, Plus Import Duty if applicable each, for a 10 plate heat exchanger, which I believe will give me the temperatures I desire.
This is a special order for the WA Renewable Fuels Association Inc. and we are only getting 10 on this order.
I recon that the HE will cost members around $170 each (all up). My existing heat exchanger (the dual one) cost me $Au150 (cash) to have made up.
I will keep you advised on the performance of the imported units.

12th December 2005, 11:08 PM
Hi Tony,

Sounds interesting, do you have any links to the heat exchanger you are getting? Be interested to check it out.



Tony From West Oz
16th January 2006, 03:26 AM
This Site (http://www.kaori-taiwan.com/ecompa35.htm#COMBI%20BOILER) has details of the FPHE we have purchased.
We have bought the 10 plate K030 with nickel brazing. It would have been significantly cheaper to use copper brazing, but as there has been some discussion on the use of copper in Used Cooking Oil fuel systems, I ordered the Nickel brazed units.

22nd March 2006, 10:31 PM
Sorry to butt in Gents, in regards to IP temperatures etc, Are not your IPs engine oil lubed? If so all your temperature issues will be lessed some what. Your engine will be far warmer than the temps your suggesting. I know my 'Cruiser, which runs an inline pump, is mounted directly to the side of the engine block and is fully lubed directly of the engine oil pump/filter. Whatever is the Engine oil temp is the IP temp. I know coz if you've ever got an air bubble/run out a fuel can gotta pump it up manually, you get awful close to a V hot pump and Engine block.
Not to suggest that unless you lot are running massive RPMs the total fuel flow rate is not likely to be all that high. Admittedly the bypass system Rotarys use will increase flow rates, I'd doubt you could "chill" an IP all that easily.

maybe in a Bugatti (spelling??) Veyron, 70 Litres of PULP in 12 mins... $$$$$$ ouch:eek: admittedly at 400+kph..:cool:


23rd March 2006, 10:53 AM

With the risk of moving this thread onto a new topic - although only a bit - I'm interested in what model cruiser you have converted. I've got an HJ61 running a 12HT motor. I think it is Greasecar say they have converted 12HT's with no problems, but there is not a lot of info about the setups for these engines. It'd be good to get a bit of a handle on who else has one.

I was concerned about fuel temp, and ring coking, but Tony's posting above about the VW direct injection and having a dome in the piston - which the 12HT has - thereby alleviating, in theory, the risk to the rings has eased my troubled mind somewhat.

I DO notice the engine runs smoother when it has been running for around ten minutes after the coolant reaches normal but whether this is because the engine oil is heated and transferring that heat to the IP as in your theory, or whether my own HE is starting to work effectively, I cannot tell.

Whichever, I certainly look forward to longer runs!

BTW, I'm not running 100%, more like 50%.


26th March 2006, 10:05 PM
Also not wanting to hijack the thread... When do you start the next??

I have a '86 model BJ70, running a 3B 4cyl 3.4L motor. I understand this motor is a good candidate to turbo hence 3B-T or 13B-T because of oil sprays to the underside of the pistons, which are also believed to assist in reducing/stopping buildup on the rings, carbon coking of the cylinder walls etc. But could, I guess, if the situation was bad enough lead to clogging of oil wells, holes, etc, regular oil changes should reduce this effect.

My HE is a custom made tube-in-tube. 2"- 50mm copper with 7 runs of 5/16"-8mm internals about 1.6m in length, which loops back to fit between the radiator and engine. as below..