Zander's Bio Diesel Page
1987 Toyota HJ60 diesel
I have been running Bio Diesel now since March of 02003. Bio Diesel is basically slightly refined vegetable oil that can run in ANY diesel vehicle with little to no modifications. The vegetable oil used can be virgin, but is generally recycled from fryers at restaurants (yes the exhaust smells like whatever was fried in it).
The best part of running Bio Diesel is that no wars need to be fought over it, it's entirely domestic, supports farming, it's totally renewable, often recycled, and it cuts almost all aspects of a diesel vehicle's emissions by more than 50-75%. (The exception is NOx which is about the same). You get slightly less mileage and power (5% decrease) than petro-diesel, but your exhaust smells a lot better and its actually easier on your engine (better lubricity). It is a bit more sensitive to cold starting than petro diesel, but this can be corrected with cold weather additives or by mixing with petro-diesel. You can mix and match it with petro-diesel from the pump as availability allows so you don't have to worry about taking long trips etc. You can even top off a tank of Bio Diesel with petro-diesel and visa versa.
The cost of Bio Diesel ranges from 50 cents to over $3.00/gallon depending on how much effort you want to go through, and what resources are in your area. You can actually make it yourself for about 50 cents/gallon, if you want to collect used vegetable oil from local sources and do some minor refining. Depending on your location you can get it from the pump with prices that range from $1.75 to $3.00 a gallon. Or you can do what I do and get it delivered in bulk for about the same price and have your own refueling station. (more details on all these options below)
To start running Bio Diesel you need:
- A diesel vehicle: Diesel vehicles get great mileage, (a modern VW Golf diesel gets upwards of 50 MP/G). Diesels are generally the most long lasting reliable cars on the road with most engines lasting over 400,000 miles. Unfortunately in the US the diesel vehicle selection is a much slimmer than the rest of the world, but this seems to be changing as the price of gas goes up, and diesel hybrid technology is developed. I have used Bio Diesel in a full size Dodge pickup, a Toyota Landcruiser, and a VW Golf TDI. Volkswagen sells all their models in diesel versions called TDI, which are excellent Bio Diesel vehicles. Jeep is just now coming out with a diesel version of their Liberty SUV. Ford, Dodge, Chevy and GMC all currently sell diesel versions of their large pickups and Mercedes is about to come out with a new turbo diesel in the US. There are also a host of older vehicles such as Mercedes, Volvo, etc that can be found on the used market in diesel. All work fine, here is a great list of all US diesel makes and models:
- Prep your vehicle for Bio Diesel: Most vehicles you don't have to do anything. For vehicles before 1985 however you may want to change out the fuel line for a modern flourinated plastic (like Viton) as the Bio Diesel could cause swelling in some older plastic lines. If the vehicle has been running petro-diesel for a long time you should be prepared to change fuel filter in the first few thousand miles of Bio Diesel use, as Bio Diesel will flush all the petro-diesel residue from your system, and it will end up in your fuel filter. As this happens you will feel a gradual loss of power over a few days, this is the signal to change the filter. My truck had 150,000 miles on it when I got it, and I had to change the fuel filter once after the first 1000 miles on Bio Diesel, and again about 1500 miles later.
- Find a Bio Diesel source: The best place to find it in your area, and other info on it, is on the National Bio Diesel Board site: http://www.biodiesel.org/
I usually get mine here in a the San Francisco Bay Area delivered from Yokayo Bio Fuels: http://www.ybiofuels.org/
Currently I get it delivered to my shop for about $3.50 a gallon. They can also give you the barrels to hold it in and help you get all set up to pump it. Biofuel Oasis in Berkeley is now operating a pump and great workshops as well.
- If you want to refuel at home you can make your own gas station pretty easily. I purchased a clean 275 Gallon "IBC tote tank" surplus from a local chemical company for $80. I hooked up an electric diesel pump from Northern Tool Supply, a dispensing filter, and now I have my own gas station. Bio Diesel is basicly classified as vegetable oil so its totally non toxic and does not require any special handling (see this MSDS sheet). Make sure you do put a filter on the pump rig though to make sure the fuel going into your car is clean.
[I got my tank from Sierra Chemical in Sacramento. They go for between $50-80 depending on the condition. They are stackable and interconnectable and movable with a forklift. They are also not barrels which makes them look like less of chemical hazard. They have a low drain fitting (usually with a ball valve) where I hooked up my pump, and a large top fitting that also has a 2" barrel plug type fitting in it. They can be used with pumps or as gravity feed since they have the bottom port. Contact Bob at Sierra Chemical Co (916) 371-5943 788 Northport Dr West Sacramento, CA]
my refueling station...
- If you want to make your own Bio-Diesel, or start a local coop to do so as, many people have there are a lot of on line resources that any Google search will turn up. A great first stop is the Journey To Forever site. There are even nice hi end home refinery packages now for about $3000. You can make your own refinery or use kits for far less though.
Vehicles I have personal
experience with on Bio Diesel
(click to see reports on each)
San Francisco Bay Area Bio-Diesel Resources
Some of my favorite links