straight vegetable oil as an alternative diesel fuel

Submitted: Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 22:58
ThreadID: 32772 Views:4316 Replies:2 FollowUps:10
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After doing a heap of research on the net about biodiesel, I went and spoke to somebody who has been playing around with it for a few years. The expert is now advocating pure plant oil (canola & mustard oil) as a viable alternative to diesel and biodiesel. He claims it is better to modify the vehicle to take the fuel than modify the fuel. He claims you receive all the same benefits as biodiesel without the production hassles and in the long run is cheaper. The economic figures are tremendous, about 10-12000 k's to repay the modification costs, and from thereon, saving around 50 cents a litre over conventional diesel. BUT there appears to be a downside,in that straight vegie oil can destroy the fuel pump and engine in a very short time, if the setup is not perfect. Does anybody have any experience with this type of fuel, and do you know of any resources on the net? There's been heaps written about biodiesel, but not so much about pure plant oil.
Cheers Ferris
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Reply By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 23:43

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 23:43
Post 32624 is a start.

AnswerID: 166320

Reply By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 23:50

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 23:50
BTW, I think the experts figures are considerably awry, and observations unecessarily alarmest.

Perfection is not what is needed, clean heated fuel is what is needed.
And anyone paying 80c/l for used vegetable oil is plain nuts, pardon the pun -
====saving around 50 cents a litre over conventional diesel===
$1.30 take 50c = 80c for your oil sheesh.

I can trot off down to my local supermarket and buy new oil off the shelf for $1 on special. Not telling what I pay for my used oil. The engine doesn't know or complain whether it's new or used, as long as it's hot and clean.

AnswerID: 166322

Follow Up By: V8 Troopie - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 00:38

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 00:38
Hi Tim,
It so happened that I researched that very same subject last week. Was all set to start with a mix of diesel and 10% straight veggie oil and increase that perhaps up to 30%. A figure the 'experts' say does not need ANY pre heating or other engine modification.

Only snag was the price of the cheapest veggie oil on the supermarket shelf. On par with diesel from the pump where I buy it with the 4c discount voucers, so making the whole exercise pointless from a financial view.

Now, I would be VERY interested just where ( in Perth pref.) you got that veggie oil for $1.-/ litre. Did you have to buy a large quantity? How many litres?. From what I read the thinner the oil the better with rapeseed oil being the front runner.
Any comments?

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Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 07:53

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 07:53
I tried to track down in Brisy a wholesale vegie oil seller. Thought that might be more useful as I could buy in 20 litre drums. Idea is one drum per tank of 135l. No luck so far. Where do the fish and chip shops buy it from? I could buy 100 litres at a time.

I did try an experiment and mixed 1 litre of clean new canola oil with 4 litres of diesel, and let it sit in a clear container for 2 months to see if it seperates, it didn't. Was worried about it seperating in the tank and the engine running on 100% vegie oil at some stage.

My concern with using old oil is knowing the source, so I know the constituants. I know from the 2nd hand oil collection industry that the majority of 2nd hand oil from restaurants is tallow and palm oil (about 80%) with the rest being canola, olive and other oils. Also, being 2nd hand and used in cooking, the moisture (water) content is a lot higher, since food has been cooked in it.

By the way, rapeseed and canola oil are basically the same thing from what I can work out, just different name.
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Follow Up By: F4Phantom - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:24

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:24
My undertsanding is that Canola oil is rapeseed oil as called in other countries.
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Follow Up By: Scubaroo - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:43

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:43
Canola and rapeseed are definitely the same thing. It's just that nobody wants to buy "Golden Rape" margarine - Canola is the consumer-friendly name nowadays.
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Follow Up By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 10:33

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 10:33

Action Gwelup - 2 litres for $1.99

20 litre drums of the same oil at FAL wharehouse in Balcatta were $30 - but are now around $25 I think.

However you make a valid point regarding new oil - it has to be less costly than diesel to be attractive.

I've not had any luck with buying commercial quantities cheaper. In fact, as in the case with Action, the smaller quantities are cheapest - on special.

Joe Young of Kojonup Oils, Jingalup Rd Jingalup 6395 (08) 9833 6267 near Kojonup will supply 200l at $1 a litre degummed canola direct from his farm. Not food quality but suitable for engines. Call him first if you're heading that way. I've not bought his oil, but I've heard of a LC owner in Albany that has done 20k+ on this oil.

Palm oil is very good as a fuel, but as it solidifies at normal temperatures you need to run a two tank system with in tank heater, fuel line heaters etc to keep it fluid enough. This is not beyond competant home mechanic but can get complex and expensive. Many people in Europe and Canada use this stuff in 0°C environments so we really have no problems compared to them. There is a line of thinking that the supply of good used Canola oil will dry up as more people try to source it and that it makes sense when doing a conversion to set it up for hydrogonised fats - solid lard types - which are much more freely available as people have found. However if you let the lard cool in the injector lines it will be very difficult to start the engine without pouring boiling water over the pump and lines, hence the common two tank system with a start up shut down on diesel, or biodiesel to clear the Injection pump of oil. Two tank is common setup with people who run straight vege oil too, not just lard, so you can run 100% oil when the engine is warm. As long as your fuel pump, sometimes there is an aux pump fitted, can pump the oil from the tank to the heat exchanger fitted near the injection pump, you don't really need heated tanks and heated lines for good canola type oils. It's only the lard that needs tank heating etc.

I'm happy to let people know what I have learnt, but I'm not sure this is the right forum, we're drifting away from 4WD and Camping folks. I would just be 'reinventing the wheel' with the info I give you when the info I have found is out there on the net in various forums. It's much better to learn for yourself than take it from me on this forum. One of the most useful forums is this one and
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There is a bit of flaming that goes on between people who are developing commercial conversions overseas on these forums, and they can make contradicting claims which confuses newbies. I'm not aware of any Oz based commercial vege oil conversions.

For what it's worth, my supplier is using Cottonseed oil in their friers and it works fine for me. I've also used Canola. Just don't use oil that is white at room temp, let it settle, draw off the liquid from the top, filter it through a 5 micron filter, make sure there is no water in it, and pour it into your tank - all the while being aware that blending non excisable and excisable fuels is against ATO rules. A two tank system is not blending fuels and is not breaking ATO rules.

Happy hunting.

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Follow Up By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 11:12

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 11:12

With respect:
Also, being 2nd hand and used in cooking, the moisture (water) content is a lot higher, since food has been cooked in it.

isn't correct.
The oil in chip shops is being used at around 180°C, obviously well above boiling point of water, so any water from the ice in chips etc is boiled off very quickly. The water we have problems with comes from where the discarded oil is stored. Often it's in 200l drums with an open funnel and who knows what drops in there. If you collect this sort of oil it is best to boil it up yourself to 120°C and stir it around as it gets hot to boil all the water off, then wait til it cools a lot before filtering it. On my first attempt, I managed to pour heated oil into a plastic drum, not realising how hot the damn oil was. After a minute or so it melted the bottom out of the drum spreading hot oil all over my brick paving near the pool. Some got in the pool....... argggghhh, I don't want to talk about it........ :-\

The main problem from used oil that started out being pure Canola or Cottonseed is not the water it collects when frying, it is the hydrogonated or solid oils that the chips are prefried in. Some of that oil gets drawn out and mixes with your good oil. Just check how much white oil, ie solid, is in the oil to work out whether you will use it or not. A bit is okay, a lot is not. What's a bit - ???? experience and good luck I guess. :-)

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Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:20

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:20
Thanks Tim,

I just have a little experience at the other end trying to recycle the stuff.

And trying to keep palm oil above 30 deg C so you can pump it is a pain too.
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Follow Up By: Mr Fawlty - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:26

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:26
In agriculture, Canola is a trademarked cultivar of the rapeseed plant from which rapeseed oil is obtained. It was initially bred in Canada by Keith Downey and Baldur Stefansson in the 1970s.

Canola Oil is a term coined from the words "Canadian" and "oil".

Well I never....amazingk the thingsk one learnsk in here....
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Follow Up By: V8troopie - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:36

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:36
thanks Tim, excellent reply. Gwelup is just aropund the corner from me so I will check the shop out after Easter. The 200 litre supplier also sounds good, will have to find out if that has to be one drum or can be a stack of jerry cans which are far more easily manhandled.
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Follow Up By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:43

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 16:43

Just come home from that shop and it is still on special. Has been that price for a week or so, when off special it's more like $1.60 litre from memory. I wouldn't be waiting until after Easter mate, just roll your trolley up to the counter with 6 cartons (12 litres per carton). Heck if you don't stick it in the truck, put in your bath and have a great time..... :-\

If you go the Kojonup supplier, it's the same price as the supermarket oil and you gotta have a long drive to get it.

FollowupID: 421332

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