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Mar 16, 2004
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is anyone using biodiesel? It is in the news up here in south dakota.
baldy":28o4wxiy said:
is anyone using biodiesel? It is in the news up here in south dakota.

I would be highly suspicious of the lubricating and cetane qualities. I have been producing diesel in the largest gasoline refinery in country for 30 years. I would be very cautious looks like a very expensive train wreck looking for a place to happen.
I had actually heard that the guy that invented the diesel engine had intended it to run on biodiesel not fossil fuel. So if it was invented with this in mind, it should work depending, of course, on how much the current design is like the original. I've heard that when you burn biodiesel that it smells like french fries. I wonder if it would make everybody hungry when a car drove by :lol:
That could be harmful to peoples health couldn't it?

I can see it now, some well, pleasantly plump guy, with his nose up an exhaust.

Just a thought.
There's a choice to make for running diesels on biofuels:

make biodiesel and just use it, no need to modify the engine, or
buy a ready-made conversion system for your vehicle or build your own so you can run it on straight vegetable oil (SVO) -- no need to process the fuel, just put it in and go.

Elsbett, Germany
Does the SVO option work? Yes -- IF you go about it the right way. It's not quite that simple a choice. For one thing, if you want to use waste vegetable oil, which is often free, you're going to have to process it anyway, though less so than to make biodiesel. And it still might not be a very good fuel.

But read on -- you CAN run your diesel motor safely on straight vegetable oil, just put it in and go. There are pitfalls and provisos, but we'll help you to steer your way through them.

One of the great advantages of biodiesel is that it will work in any diesel motor -- see Biodiesel and your vehicle. (More on the choice between biodiesel and SVO.)

The same claim is often made for straight vegetable oil fuel systems, such as this: "Ready-to-install kit that will allow you to run any diesel on waste vegetable oil."

Is it true? Yes, but for how long?

Diesel motors last a long time, half a million miles or more is not unusual, and there are very few thorough, long-term studies of the effects of using straight vegetable oil in diesel motors. What is clear, however, is that "any diesel" is an exaggeration.

Some vegetable oils are better than others.
Some diesels are more suitable than others.
Some injection pumps work better than others.
Some computerized fuel systems don't like vegetable oil at all.
There are doubts about using vegetable oil in DI (Direct Injection) diesels.
There are also doubts about using waste vegetable oil.
(See The TDI-SVO controversy)

The main problem is that vegetable oil is much more viscous (thicker) than conventional diesel fuel (DERV, petro-diesel). It must be heated (thinned) so that it can be properly atomised by the fuel injectors. If it's not properly atomised, it won't burn properly, forming deposits on the injectors and in the cylinder head, leading to poor performance, higher emissions, and reduced engine life.

This can also happen with unsuitable oils, for instance those with a high iodine value, such as linseed oil (see Iodine Values), which can form tough epoxy deposits, not good for engines. It's argued that a good SVO system will prevent this, but solid proof is lacking.

"In the high temperatures commonly found in internal combustion engines, the process is accelerated and the engine can quickly become gummed-up with the polymerised oil." -- From "Waste Vegetable Oil As A Diesel Replacement Fuel":

Waxes can clog up the fuel system, especially in cold weather. Waste oils can contain acids that cause corrosion in the injector pump, and impurities that can cause coking and further corrosion.

Cutaway view of an injector pump -- complex, expensive

"In autumn 2001 an injection pump was damaged for the first time ... so that an exchange was necessary. The vehicle had previously been driven without problems for two years. An examination of the defective sections found substantial surface erosion of the hardened steel high pressure parts, which are not acid-proof." The problem was traced to a supply of soy oil which was not the usual food-grade oil and had a high acid-content. BioCar (German page):

Here's some more:

"Rapeseed oil ... can only be used as a diesel fuel extender, with inclusion rates of up to 25%." -- From "Results of engine and vehicle testing of semi-refined rapeseed oil":

And yet more:

"Deacidified rapeseed oil can be used as fuel for a diesel engine. Degummed oil and crude rapeseed oil were found to be unsuitable for use as fuel due to the high level of incombustible materials in oil." -- From "Operation of a Diesel Engine Using Unrefined Rapeseed Oil as Fuel": ... gashi.html

Nonetheless, experience is showing that SVO systems are a practical proposition with a lot of advantages to offer, not least of all that using SVO can be cheaper than turning it into biodiesel and uses less energy than making biodiesel does.

It's vital to pay close attention to the quality and condition of the oil -- much more critical with an SVO system than if you're going to convert the oil into biodiesel. Study the resources below carefully, as well as the information on oil and fuel qualities and properties on our Oil yields and characteristics page.

That done, get a good system matched to the right kind of engine with the right kind of injection pump, as well as to your climate, and you'll be just fine, like thousands of others
Diesel Fuels Changing to Meet New Standards

Diesel engine technology is rapidly evolving to meet new emissions standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will go into effect in 2006. Substantial reductions in particulate matter and nitrogen oxides are required of newer engines, resulting in the use of exhaust aftertreatment devices. These devices are easily poisoned by sulfur, so the pressure is on to further reduce the level of sulfur in diesel fuels.

The EPA has proposed a cap of 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur in diesel fuel beginning in 2006. Currently the level is 500 ppm. This has led to a new class of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuels (ULSD) with levels of 50 ppm sulfur or lower.

New emission standards for heavy-duty truck and bus engines begin with the model year 2004 and reflect the provisions of the Statement of Principle (SOP) signed in 1995 by the EPA, The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the manufacturers of heavy-duty diesel engines. The goal was to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission levels from highway heavy-duty engines to approximately 2 grams per brake horsepower per hour beginning in 2004.

Further, in May 2000, the EPA announced proposed emission standards for model year 2007 and later heavy-duty highway engines to regulate diesel fuel and to create emissions standards.

The ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel has been proposed as a "technology enabler" to pave the way for advanced, sulfur-intolerant exhaust emission control technologies such as diesel particulate filters and De-Nox catalysts, which will be necessary to meet the 2007 emission standards.

To get the ultra-low-sulfur levels, refiners perform additional hydroprocessing and higher-severity hydrotreating. While these processes reduce sulfur levels, they also affect other fuel properties. These fuels lose the natural lubricity provided by some of the polar compounds present naturally in the fuel. Low-lubricity fuels can result in premature wear and failure of fuel system components.

Additionally, severely hydrotreated fuels can suffer from loss of natural antioxidants that help prevent the fuel from forming gums and sludges. A fuel's antioxidation properties are especially important in today's fuel systems, where the fuel is exposed to high temperatures. The ultra-low-sulfur fuels also can be more corrosive than conventional fuels, requiring corrosion-inhibiting additives. These fuels also can have very low electrical conductivity, causing a safety concern with components such as high-velocity pumps, where fuel can be exposed to significant static electrical charges.

Because of these challenges, some new diesel fuel blending options are being introduced. Gas to liquid (GTL) technology yields diesel blend stocks from stranded gas reserves that might not otherwise make it to market. GTL diesel fuels are desirable blending components because they have the very low sulfur levels as well as high cetane numbers.

A major percentage of all problems with diesel engines are related to fuel quality, according to Wards Auto World, an e-magazine that offers consumers free auto advice on the internet.

Diesel fuel can vary from one shipment to another and from one area to another. Changing vendors or changes suppliers sometimes make to the fuel they sell also bring different qualities of diesel fuel to the market.

Three important components that vary the most in diesel fuel are cetane, weight and viscosity.

Cetane defines the susceptibility of the fuel to self-ignite. Acceptable cetane levels are between 40 and 45, but few fuel distributors advertise this since each batch may be different. Cetane influences both starting and combustion roughness on an engine. High altitudes and low temperatures call for a greater cetane number of the fuel.

The weight of the fuel or its gravity plays a role in the heat content of the fuel. Number one is a "lighter" grade and number two is "heavier," or weighs more per gallon. Number one provides better starting in cold temperatures, but number two has better lubricating qualities and contains more heat units (BTUs) per volume.

The number one fuel is less dense so it becomes thinner when heated than the number two fuel. As the fuel temperature continues to rise, fuel begins to leak through the high-pressure parts of the injection pump causing it to pump less fuel, and the leakage results in a power loss of between one percent and seven percent.

Diesel fuel treatments increase fuel quality and extend the lives of engines. The only way to be sure of fuel quality is to treat it with fuel additives.

And finally Diesel prices have to go up to meet the new EPA standards.
Refinery capacities are going to have to be reduced to meet 15ppm sulfur requirements or new units to process ultra low sul diesel will have to be built. These cost will be passed on to the consumer. Sorry for the bad news.

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