Green Alchemy has been at the forefront in testing the use of bio fuels. Special interest has been focused on a carbon neutral fuel with the use of no petroleum hydrocarbons in their production and use. We have been especially drawn to straight vegetable oil (SVO) and waste vegetable oil (WVO) as fuels for internal combustion engines, in other words, diesels. The idea of taking a “RAW” resource and putting it directly in the fuel tank is simplistic, has low energy production costs, is clean, and is very exciting.
We have used 3 basic designs on the farm in converting diesel engines to run on SVO or WVO or both. Remember, you either convert an engine to fit the fuel ie SVO or WVO; or change the fuel to fit the engine such as Bio diesel.
At Green Alchemy we have taken the path of avoiding Bio diesel production for a couple of reasons. First, Bio diesel can be produced by using 2 alcohols: Methanol or Ethanol. 5 parts veggie oil to 1 part methanol plus NaOH catalyst will produce 5 parts Bio diesel (Methyl ester) and 1 part glycerol. 3 parts veggie to 1 part ethanol will yield 3 parts Bio diesel (Ethyl ester) and 1 part glycerol. The methanol reaction is more reliable, BUT you must purchase the methanol which comes from the chemical reaction of natural gas and steam……NON-sustainable!! The ethanol reaction must be with anhydrous ethanol to be reliable and this is difficult to produce since distillation yields 94-97% ETHANOL. You would need the addition of the molecular sieve technology to get 100% Ethanol, but you could produce your own alcohol for the Ethyl ester. This is a sustainable form of bio diesel AND Ethyl ester bio diesel has a lower “gelling” temperature allowing operation at lower temperatures vs. the methyl ester.
Second, Bio diesel wastes 20% of the vegetable oil fuel in the form of glycerol. Thirdly, Methanol bio diesel has many safety hazards that producers must be aware of: Methanol skin contact is poisonous, poisonous gas production during cooking a batch, flammability concerns, and environmental concerns if you wash your methyl ester with water to eliminate unreacted alcohol.
If you choose to make Biodiesel from SVO Sunflower oil, it is best to pretreat the Raw Sunflower with the Glycerol by-product of an initial run of Methanol biodiesel. By doing this you will eliminate about 50% of KOH in the process. See pictures at the bottom of this page.
So Green Alchemy has taken the SVO and WVO fuel path because of its simplicity, production safety, and environmental compatibility. We have converted an international 684 indirect-injected diesel tractor to a 2-tank conversion with manual turn on/off switch. We have converted a 1985 Mercedes 300D turbo indirect injected diesel car using the 1-tank Elsbett system. We have also installed the 1-tank Elsbett system in a 1996 VW Passat TDI direct -injected diesel engine. Moreover, we converted a 1983 Mercedes 300D turbo indirect -injected diesel with a Fossil Free 2-tank kit with a automatic turn on/off with manual override. To burn vegetable oil in a standard diesel engine the viscosity of the oil must be made to approach diesel fuel. By heating the oil to over 150F, SVO and WVO approaches the viscosity of diesel fuel and can be burned successfully in a diesel engine. How is this done? The 2-tank system preheats the oil by starting on Dino-diesel and using engine coolant to heat the oil. When oil temp>150F you can switch the fuel source over with a switch to a solenoid, but purging engine with Dino-diesel when stopping trip. The 1-tank conversion alters fuel injectors, glow plugs, fuel line and adds a heated fuel filter and heat exchanger.
We produce SVO with sunflower oil grown in our fields organically. WVO is obtained from individuals or restaurants using soy, peanut, or canola for cooking. We will heat all WVO to 140F for 3hours to dewater. Then the WVO and SVO are filtered through a 5u bag filter where it will be followed up with a canister filter that will ultra purify the oil fuel before engine use! Then we fill up the tank and drive the cleanest vehicles on the road or tractors in the field. No gas, No distillation.
Click the photos below for more information.
Green Alchemy will provide Biofuel consultation at $100/hour plus mileage.
Biofuel Consultation includes:
- Biofuel types and best system for your life incorporation
- Production or source for chosen biofuel
- Processing and cleaning fuel for engine use:filtering,storage and safety
- Engine or fuel conversion techniques with links to sources for “do-it-yourselfers”
- Up-to-date information of pitfalls and risks in self produced fuels and converted engines