2. Straight vegetable oil
Anybody can make biodiesel. It's easy, you can make it in your kitchen -- and it's BETTER than the petro-diesel fuel the big oil companies sell you. Your diesel motor will run better and last longer on your home-made fuel, and it's much cleaner -- better for the environment and better for health.
If you make it from used cooking oil it's not only cheap but you'll be recycling a troublesome waste product. Best of all is the GREAT feeling of freedom, independence and empowerment it will give you. Here's how to do it -- everything you need to know.
Straight vegetable oil fuel (SVO) systems can be a clean, effective and economical option. Unlike biodiesel, with SVO you have to modify the engine. The best way is to fit a professional singletank SVO system with replacement injectors and glowplugs optimised for veg-oil, as well as fuel heating.
With the German Elsbett single-tank SVO system for instance you can use petro-diesel, biodiesel or SVO, in any combination. Just start up and go, stop and switch off, like any other car. Journey to Forever's Toyota TownAce van uses an Elsbett single-tank system. More
There are also two-tank SVO systems which pre-heat the oil to make it thinner. You have to start the engine on ordinary petroleum diesel or biodiesel in one tank and then switch to SVO in the other tank when the veg-oil is hot enough, and switch back to petro- or biodiesel before you stop the engine, or you'll coke up the injectors.
More information on straight vegetable oil systems in my blog.
3. Biodiesel or SVO?
Biodiesel has some clear advantages over SVO: it works in any diesel, without any conversion or modifications to the engine or the fuel system -- just put it in and go. It also has better cold-weather properties than SVO (but not as good as petro-diesel -- see Using biodiesel in winter). Unlike SVO,
it's backed by many long-term tests in many countries, including millions of miles on the road.
Biodiesel is a clean, safe, ready-to-use, alternative fuel, whereas it's fair to say that many SVO systems are still experimental and need further development.
On the other hand, biodiesel can be more expensive, depending how much you make, what you make it from and whether you're comparing it with new oil or used oil (and depending on where you live). And unlike SVO, it has to be processed first.
But the large and rapidly growing worldwide band of homebrewers don't mind -- they make a supply every week or once a month and soon get used to it. Many have been doing it for years.
Anyway you have to process SVO too, especially WVO (waste vegetable oil, used, cooked), which many people with SVO systems use because it's cheap or free for the taking. With WVO food particles and impurities and water must be removed, and it probably should be deacidified too. Biodieselers say, "If I'm going to have to do all that I might as well make biodiesel instead." But SVO types scoff at that -- it's much less processing than making biodiesel, they say. To each his own.