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Any experience with using/converting cars to run on biodiesel/wvo?


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Any experience with using/converting cars to run on biodiesel/wvo?
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pkatzman
Formerly "djfusion"
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Atlanta
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2007-07-27, 08:55

Well I think I've decided on my latest project. I totaled my car in May (really crappy situation, pretty much equally each of our faults, the lucky part is nobody was hurt) and since then have been without a car. With senior year coming up on me fast, I'm realizing that this might be a bit of a problem.

Anyway, I was thinking about it, and I don't remember exactly how the idea came to me, but I decided it might not be a bad idea to buy and old diesel (maybe a late 80s or early 90s Mercedes, BMW or VW) and convert it to run on vegetable oil (waste or pure) or biodiesel. It's generally more environmentally friendly, cheaper in the long run, and often increases a car's mileage. Sounds like a good deal, no?

The problem is that, while I think I could definitely learn quickly to the level that I'm at least passingly competent, I don't have a whole lot of experience working on cars, let alone converting them to run on biodiesel. Having read up on what it usually entails, it sounds as though you mainly have to change a filter or two, and change a spark plug (might be getting terminology mixed up here.)

Does anyone have any advice or stories of their own experiences they'd like to offer? Should I see if I can find a used, pre-converted car over doing it myself? Is it as simple a procedure as I'm imagining?

Thanks!
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2007-07-27, 09:05

Based on my limited understanding, any diesel engine is capable of running biodiesel as it is. The only hutch is that you need to have a healing mechanism to warm up the biodiesel before it is fed into the engine. Therefore, you'd need a second fuel tank with a healing element, but no modification on engine is needed.

But this is based on my precursory reading, and I could be *way* off the base here.
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torifile
Less than Stellar Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Durham, NC
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2007-07-27, 09:53

I run my VW Golf on 100% biodiesel almost all the time. As Banana said, diesel engines require no modification to run on BD. There is one exception to this and it's not really a modifcation - cars that have older hoses or have run on dino diesel for a while will need to have those hoses replaced and a fuel filter change or two. BD is a very good solvent and it will disolve older rubber hoses and the crud that builds up from prolonged dino use.

BD has a higher gel point than regular diesel, so in the winter, depending on climate, you my need to use a regular diesel/biodiesel mix. During the winter, I switched to running B20 to deal with the freezing thing. You don't need a second tank or warmer or anything.

Are you planning on brewing your own or are you looking to hook up with a coop or something? I'm a member of a coop where we brew BD once a week. I've learned a lot about the process - so much that I wouldn't do it myself without investing in a bunch of equipment.

I don't run on straight vegetable oil (SVO) or waste veggie oil (WVO) as both of those require modifications. I think a popular one is called the Elsbit modication. Have a look at www.biofuels.coop and you may find some more links to help you along. Let me know if you've got any other questions. (This post was entirely typed on my iPhone's keyboard so please excuse any typos. )

Oh and diesel engines don't use spark plugs! Compression combustion FTW!!! You should also check the forums at tdiclub.com - they have a biodiesel forum.
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bassplayinMacFiend
Banging the Bottom End
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
 
2007-07-27, 10:25

Well, diesels use glow plugs instead of spark plugs, but you're correct, the 25:1 compression helps combustion immensely. There is a guy I met at the local RC airplane club who runs their diesel VW Rabbit on biodiesel. I'll ask him the next time I see him how complicated it was to mod his car. He has two tanks I think in order to switch between regular and BD if necessary.
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pkatzman
Formerly "djfusion"
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Atlanta
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2007-07-29, 00:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by torifile View Post
I run my VW Golf on 100% biodiesel almost all the time. As Banana said, diesel engines require no modification to run on BD. There is one exception to this and it's not really a modifcation - cars that have older hoses or have run on dino diesel for a while will need to have those hoses replaced and a fuel filter change or two. BD is a very good solvent and it will disolve older rubber hoses and the crud that builds up from prolonged dino use.

BD has a higher gel point than regular diesel, so in the winter, depending on climate, you my need to use a regular diesel/biodiesel mix. During the winter, I switched to running B20 to deal with the freezing thing. You don't need a second tank or warmer or anything.

Are you planning on brewing your own or are you looking to hook up with a coop or something? I'm a member of a coop where we brew BD once a week. I've learned a lot about the process - so much that I wouldn't do it myself without investing in a bunch of equipment.

I don't run on straight vegetable oil (SVO) or waste veggie oil (WVO) as both of those require modifications. I think a popular one is called the Elsbit modication. Have a look at www.biofuels.coop and you may find some more links to help you along. Let me know if you've got any other questions. (This post was entirely typed on my iPhone's keyboard so please excuse any typos. )

Oh and diesel engines don't use spark plugs! Compression combustion FTW!!! You should also check the forums at tdiclub.com - they have a biodiesel forum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bassplayinMacFiend View Post
Well, diesels use glow plugs instead of spark plugs, but you're correct, the 25:1 compression helps combustion immensely. There is a guy I met at the local RC airplane club who runs their diesel VW Rabbit on biodiesel. I'll ask him the next time I see him how complicated it was to mod his car. He has two tanks I think in order to switch between regular and BD if necessary.
You guys are awesome, hell yeah.

I got some more advice from a few gearhead friends of mine tonight, and I'm really liking this idea now. If I can find a decently-priced 80's Mercedes or newer VW diesel, I'll be in business. I also discovered that there's a company Vegenergy that operates out of Atlanta, doing some sort of work or another in biofuels, and they have a fueling station in the city. Even better, it's very near my house.

So I'm thinking I find a car that's in good shape (according to the gearheads, I should look for either 100-150k miles or over 300kish, making sure it had some major work done around 250) and just run it on Biodiesel for the moment. The station has I believe B100 and B20, should the weather here ever get cold enough to warrant the latter. I don't remember reading if they posted what the prices tend to be, but I'm sure it's cheaper than the three bucks for most stations in town. Should I decide to modify it to run on WVO/SVO in the near future (which I want to, but not sure if I'll have the time in the next few months) I have the option.
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