Following sporadic and unconnected postings over the last year, most
recently from shannon wagoner, I want to try running my Peugeot on
vegetable oil. The engine is an XUD9A/L, which is a 1900cc four
cylinder non-turbo, non-catalyst engine. I know that diesel engines
will run on many fuels, having used one running on used engine oil and
paraffin (kerosene). I have several points to discuss before I pour
the vegetable oil into the tank...
Who has done this? The guy who ran his VW Rabbit on used cooking oil
keeps cropping up. Recently he has been reported as being in both New
York and California. Does anyone have concrete information on this
experiment? (or should I post to alt.urban.myths?)
Can we run modern engines on raw vegetable oil? Some posters and some
university / government research projects advocate transesterifing
the vegetable oil to produce methyl or ethyl esters. Other posters,
some claiming personal experience, say you can just use the raw oil.
Certainly common sense would favour this approach and Rudolf Diesel
used vegetable oils in his development work. There is also a suspicion
that academia and government would want to keep control of technology
and not admit that we could all use simple vegetable oil.
Are modern engines so intolerant that they need to burn specialised
What happens in other parts of the world where the quality of
petro-diesel is poorer and more variable?
What special needs and problems do turbo diesels have?
What about diesel engines with catalysts?
Why is biodiesel only available commercially blended with 70 or 80
percent petro - diesel?
What is commonly used to winterise petro - diesel and would this work
with vegetable oil?
Any other suggestions for additives for winter use?
How clean and pure does diesel fuel need to be? It has always been
impressed on me that diesel engines need clean fuel and I can
understand that the injection pump and injectors might object to dirt.
Would vegetable oil be more prone to causing problems in this regard
than commercial petro-diesel?
Would a standard (paper) fuel filter be appropriate to filter the
fuel? Would it be prone to degrading or clogging?
What other filters are available?
Would two filters be enough?
What would be the implications of using used cooking oil? Presumably
the oil would be fit for burning even when it is no longer fit for
Would it contain water or salt or sugar?
Would these impurities cause problems in an engine?
If so, what problems would they cause and how could these be removed
in a back-yard operation? (I'm thinking of a passive slow filter that
takes used cooking oil at one end and produces useable vehicle fuel at
the other with no other chemical or energy input)
What will the government have to say about it? Given the substantial
tax revenues created by car culture and the inherent interest
governments have in maintaining and controlling it, can we run
vehicles on vegetable oil?
Specifically, what is the position here in the UK?
Can I legally run my car on vegetable oil? I know that I cannot
legally run my road vehicle on farm fuel, marine fuel or central
heating fuel, although they are essentially the same fuel. In the UK
these fuels are taxed at different rates and dyed different colours to
detect illegal use - I guess something similar happens in a lot of
BTW - current road diesel prices here in London, UK are approximately
1 US dollar per litre (4.5 US dollars per gallon)
Some studies have been done on engine wear, all seem to show a
reduction in engine wear.
Has anyone any more information?
Where does engine wear occur and what impact would using vegetable oil
What causes injectors to gum up and would using vegetable oil counter
or encourage this?
What change in engine emissions would there be?
Some thoughts so far include:
A heater along the fuel lines and under the fuel tank, perhaps a feed
from the radiator/heater. (with some sort of electrical winter
Dual (or more) fuel filters.
Retuning of the injector pump? (we need a diesel expert's advice
Change of thermostat or radiator? Will vegetable oil burn most
efficiently at a different temperature to petro-diesel, necessitating
changes to the thermostat or radiator?
Flushing of the fuel system. Will vegetable oil co-exist with
petro-diesel or will the system have to be flushed (the ability to use
both fuels would be nice, don't military vehicles have engines that
can run on any available fuel?)
Useful Links I have found, does anyone know of any more? Sorry about
the North American bias here, I suspect this reflects more on the
current development of the internet than on current biodiesel
Biodiesel Information Centre
Info on biodiesel and other fuels
Alternative Liquid Fuels
Biodiesel and Ethanol research
Part of the US National Biodiesel Board's informative site
Biodiesel Marine Demonstration Project
The City of Chicago's Police Department demonstrate the applicability
of biodiesel fuel to a police patrol boat for four months during the
summer of 1995
Renewable Energy: Biodiesel
Overview of commercial biodiesel from a Canadian perspective.
Talking Points On Soybean Oil-Based Biodiesel Fuel
Overview of commercial biodiesel from an Illinois perspective.
Liquid Biofuels Activity Meeting & Study Tour
A study tour held in Austria on May 22-24 1995
Alternative Diesel Fuels from Vegetable Oils
Outline of current research by Oil Chemical Research, Illinois USA
University of Idaho
The University of Idaho is working with four diesel-powered pickups
burning transesterified rapeseed oil
More about the University of Idaho's experiments
The History of Biodiesel Technology
University of Missouri paper
Columbus Foods Turns Used Cooking Oil Into 'Biodiesel'
A cooking oil company in Chicago who intend buy back used oil to
produce about 200,000 gallons of biodiesel a year.
Making Fuels and Chemicals
Experiments at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(genetically engineered algae!)
Canola News - April 1996
Biodiesel "The Renewable and Environmentally Friendly Diesel Fuel"
Chemical Modification of Vegetable Oils