You are on page 1of 25

Straight vegetable oil as diesel

Site Search

Advanced search for
multiple words and phrases

Please support
Journey to
- click here

En espaol

Biofuel mailing list subscribe

Biofuels Library
Biofuels supplies and
Make your own
Mike Pelly's recipe
Two-stage biodiesel
biodiesel process
Biodiesel processors
Biodiesel in Hong
Nitrogen Oxide
Biodiesel resources
on the Web
Do diesels have a
Vegetable oil yields
and characteristics
Biodiesel and your
Food or fuel?
Straight vegetable oil
as diesel fuel
Heaters, burners,


Spanish version -- Versin en espaol

SVO basics
- Alphabet soup
- The choice -- biodiesel or SVO
- Fuel quality
- Titration for SVO
- Filtering
The SVO problem
- 'Just put it in and go'
- Mixing fuels
- Veg-oil blends
Two-tank SVO systems
Single-tank SVO systems -- recommended
Two-tank SVO kit resources
The SVO vs biodiesel argument
Oil extraction and oilseed presses
SVO references
Diesel information
Fats and oils
The TDI-SVO controversy

Vegetable oil can be used
as diesel fuel just as it is,
without being converted to
The downside is that straight
vegetable oil (SVO) is much
more viscous (thicker) than
conventional diesel fuel or
biodiesel, and it doesn't burn the
Journey to Forever uses an Elsbett
same in the engine -- many
single-tank Straight Vegetable Oil fuel
studies have found that it can
system from Germany.
damage engines.
BUT it can be done properly and safely -- IF you get a professional engine
conversion. (See below.)
There are other approaches, here are the main ones:
1. Just put it in and go.
2. Mix it with diesel fuel or kerosene then just put it in and go.
3. Blend it with an organic solvent additive or with what some
companies call "our secret ingredient that we'll tell you about if you
pay us" (several versions) or with up to 20% gasoline (petrol), just
put it in and go.
Generated by

Ethanol resources on
the Web
Is ethanol energyefficient?

Wood gas -producer gas

What people are
saying about us
About Handmade
Sitemap (text only)
Why we're doing this

Rural development
Fixing what's broken

4. The only way to use veg-oil is in a properly installed two-tank system

where the oil is pre-heated and you start up and shut down on diesel
fuel (or biodiesel).
We've never had much time for Nos. 1 to 3 (more below), and we've had a
two-tank SVO kit for a couple of years that pre-heats the oil and switches
the fuel, but we never used it. They do work, but we just didn't think it
solved the problem very well, and the more we learnt about it the more we
didn't think so. (More about two-tank SVO systems.)
Along with many others, especially in Europe, we think pre-heating the oil is
still not enough to ensure that it will combust properly inside the engine. It
needs a complete system including specially made injector nozzles and glow
plugs optimised for veg-oil, such as the professional single-tank SVO kits
from Germany. Then you really can just put it in and go.
In March 2005 we installed a single-tank SVO system from Elsbett
Technologie in our TownAce (1990 Toyota TownAce 1.9-litre 4-cyl
turbo-diesel 4x4 van). The kit includes modified injector nozzles, stronger
glow plugs, dual fuel heating, temperature controls and parallel fuel filters,
and it does just what it claims to do.

City farms
Edible cities

Organic gardening
Everyone can grow their
own food

The Wheel of Life

Small farms
The way forward

Small farms library

Classics on organic
growing, soil and health
(full text online)


There's no waiting or switching fuels from one to the other, just start up and
go, stop and switch off, like any other car. It starts easily and runs cleanly
from the start, even at sub-freezing temperatures. It can use SVO or
biodiesel or petro-diesel or any combination of the three.
The professional single-tank SVO kits are the only SVO kits we
recommend. Read on and we'll tell you why. We'll tell you about the other
available options too.
See: Single-tank SVO systems.

SVO basics

Fuel for the future

Solar box cookers

Sun power saves lives
and trees

Trees, soil and water

Alphabet soup
SVO - straight vegetable oil used as diesel fuel (usually new oil, fresh,

Healthcare for mountains

Seeds of the world

No seeds, no food

What works and fits

PPO - pure plant oils, same as SVO: PPO is the term most often used in
WVO - waste vegetable oil (used cooking oil, "grease", fryer oil, probably
including animal fats or fish oils from the cooking)

Project vehicles
The workhorses

Why it really matters
Internet interaction
Finding your way

UCO - used cooking oil (what we called it in the first place until everyone
started calling it WVO, even if it wasn't necessarily all vegetable)
IDI - Indirect Injection diesel engines: the fuel is injected into a pre-chamber
or swirl-chamber before going on to the combustion chamber. Pre-chamber
engines are more tolerant of SVO than swirl-chamber engines.

Generated by

Schools projects
Solar box cookers
Backpack stove
Low-tech radio
What to do with a
cardboard carton
Sisters of silk
Silkworms in a
School gardens
School composting
Trees and forests
The Beach House
fish pond
School and youth
programs on the
resources on the

DI - Direct Injection diesel engines: the fuel is injected straight into the
combustion chamber. DI diesels are less tolerant of SVO than IDI engines
(see The TDI-SVO controversy). Types of DI diesels:
TDI - Turbo Direct Injection
CDI or CRD - Common-rail Direct Injection
PDI or PD - Pumpe Dse Unit Injection (Direct Injection, each injector has
its own pump)

The choice
The basic choice for running diesels on biofuels:

make biodiesel and just use it, no need to convert the engine, or
convert the engine so you can run it on SVO -- no need to process
the fuel.

It's not quite that simple. For instance, if you want to use waste vegetable
oil, which is often free, you're going to have to process it anyway, though
less so than to make biodiesel. And it still might not be very good fuel.
More on the choice between biodiesel and SVO.
One of the great advantages of biodiesel is that it will run in any diesel
engine. The same claim has been made for two-tank SVO fuel systems:
"Ready-to-install kit that will allow you to run any diesel on waste vegetable
oil." Also in any weather.
Is it true? Maybe, but for how long?

Contact us
To Keith Addison
To Midori Hiraga
Handmade Projects

In cold weather vegetable oil crystallises, forming solid wax crystals that can
quickly block the fuel filters. One solution to the all-weather problem with
two-tank kits is to change the filter in winter, using a 30-micron filter instead
of the standard 10-micron filter (or less), so the wax crystals just go straight
through without blocking the filter and melt in the injection pump, allegedly
without causing any stress or damage.
Also going straight through into the injection pump however will be any solid
particles of between 10 and 30 microns that the specified standard filter
would have stopped.
Would you do it?
Vendor's claim:
"The Racor filter that comes with the Greasel kit filters down to 28
microns. If the oil being used is dirty, the Racor will do its job and
protect your pump and injectors."
Comment from a diesel injection workshop:
"I wouldnt do it. They put that original 5-10 micron rating on there
for a reason."
Comment from injection pump manufacturer Stanadyne:
"We do not recommend using the 30 micron as the final filter at any
time. As the final filter, that micron rating will cause problems with the
injection equipment in terms of wear/injector plugging, etc. We
recommend using the Fuel Manager 5 Micron element (there are
many lengths to choose from) as the final filter. If the system is Generated by

'common rail' then we recommend using the Fuel Manager 2

It's your choice.
Diesel engines last a long time, half a million miles or more is not unusual,
and there are not many thorough, long-term studies of the effects of using
straight vegetable oil in diesel engines. What is clear is that "any diesel" is an

Some diesel engines are more suitable than others.

Some vegetable oils are better than others.
Some injection pumps work better than others.
Some SVO kits are better than others.
Some computerised fuel systems don't like vegetable oil at all.
There are doubts about using waste vegetable oil.
There are doubts about using straight vegetable oil in DI (Direct
Injection) diesels.

The older IDI diesel engines are generally more suitable for SVO use,
especially 1980s Mercedes and VWs. Newer DI engines can be converted
for SVO use, but not just any SVO system will do the job properly. See
Single-tank SVO systems. See The TDI-SVO controversy.
Mechanical injection is better for SVO use than computerized injection.
Inline injection pumps such as most Bosch models are most suitable for
SVO. Rotary pumps should not be used with SVO systems. Lucas/CAV
injection pumps have had high failure rates running on SVO.
Avoid SVO systems containing copper parts -- not because the oil will
damage the copper but because the copper will catalyse the oil. See
Copper and SVO.

Fuel quality
The quality and condition of the veg-oil is
much more important with an SVO
system than if you're going to convert the
oil into biodiesel.
New, unused SVO is the best oil to use.
See German PPO fuel standard: "Quality
Standard for Rapeseed Oil as a Fuel",
with comments from Elsbett
Cutaway view of an injector pump -Technologie.
complex, expensive
Good-quality WVO can be used (though see kit supplier's warranty).
But how can you tell if your WVO is good quality?
There's a widespread misconception among SVO users (and vendors) that
quality control with used oil means three things: filter, filter, filter. Often they
filter it down to 0.5 microns, even though the final fuel filter specified for the
engine by the manufacturer will probably be 10 or 5 microns, and not less
than 2 microns. Special high-priced filter units are added to some SVO kits,
which claim to remove the water content from the oil as well.
But suspended particles and water are not the only impurities in used oil.
There are serious contaminants that filtering won't remove.
Generated by

For instance, acid contamination can and will damage your engine. Filtering
has no effect -- zero effect -- on the acid content of the oil.

The German PPO fuel standard (see above), the only existing quality
standard for SVO, sets a maximum acid value of 2.0 mg KOH/g.
Elsbett Technologie says oil that's too acidic can affect the lube oil.
The Fuel Injection Equipment Manufacturers (Delphi, Stanadyne,
Denso, Bosch) say it corrodes fuel injection equipment and leaves
sediments on parts.
Engine damage of a car using the BioCar SVO system was traced to
a supply of soy oil which was not the usual food-grade oil and had a
high acid content. "An examination of the defective sections found
substantial surface erosion of the hardened steel high pressure parts,
which are not acid-proof."

The acid value depends on how much Free Fatty Acid (FFA) the oil
contains. The standard level of FFA for food-grade oil (new oil) is low, but
with used oil the amount of FFA it contains depends on how long it was
cooked and the temperature it was cooked at, and it varies widely. See
What are Free Fatty Acids?
Free Fatty Acids cannot be removed by filtering.
With experience you can tell quite a lot about the quality of oil from its
appearance, colour and smell, but the only way to know the FFA level is to
test it. The easiest and best way is to use the same titration test used in
making biodiesel. (See below, Titration for SVO.)
The titration test measures how much alkaline lye (NaOH, sodium
hydroxide) is required to neutralise the acid in the oil. The less lye it takes,
the lower the acid level and the better the oil quality.
It's said that oil with a titration of more than 3.5 ml NaOH solution should
not be used with an SVO system, it's too acidic and will contain too much
water, both of which can damage the fuel system, and the water might not
be easy to boil off.
We think 3.5 ml NaOH solution is too high, the limit should be 2 ml. There
are standards for petroleum diesel fuel and for biodiesel fuel, as there should
be, but for SVO there's only the German PPO fuel standard, which
excludes WVO altogether. Use oil with low acid levels.
The higher the titration result, the more water the oil is likely to contain, and
the more difficult it will probably be to remove the water. Used oil that
titrates at 2.0 ml NaOH solution or less will contain little or no water.
Someone we know fitted an Elsbett single-tank SVO system to his VW
Golf. He used filtered oil from the works cafetaria at his job, where the
manager had assured him it was pure, high-quality vegetable oil. We weren't
so sure, so we titrated it for him. He was shocked by the result -- the
titration was 8.5 ml of NaOH solution, bad oil! Much too acidic to use for
SVO, and it contained a lot of water, which was difficult to remove.
Don't take chances, learn to titrate your oil, and if it's too acidic find betterquality oil.
Generated by

Titration for SVO

Titration is the best and easiest way to check the quality of used cooking oil.
It measures the acid content of the oil (Free Fatty Acid or FFA). It's quite
simple and easy to do.
What you'll need:
Lye (NaOH, sodium hydroxide), 99% pure -- 500 g
Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol), 99% pure -- 500 ml
Phenolphthalein indicator -- 1% phenolphthalein solution (1.0w/v%) with
95% ethanol (phenolphthalein is colourless up to pH 8.3, then it turns pink,
or magenta) -- 500 ml
Distilled water -- 1 litre
You can buy these chemicals from a chemical supplies company.
Caution: Pure lye is used as drain cleaner, it's very caustic and can burn
your skin. The 0.1% lye solution you'll use in the test is very weak, not
dangerous. Lye quickly absorbs water from the atmosphere, close the
container as soon as possible and keep it tightly sealed. Always keep all
chemicals away from children.
2 small beakers, glass or HDPE plastic (High Density Polyethylene), about
200 ml.
1 500 ml glass or HDPE bottle with a tight-fitting cap.
Stirring rods (we use wooden chopsticks).
1/2-litre tap-water heated to 130 deg F, 55 deg C
2 small basins to stand the beakers in
3 graduated syringes -- 1 ml or 2.5 ml, plastic (no need for the needles)
2 glass measuring beakers, 10 ml and 50 ml
1 measuring beaker, 500 ml
Scales (should be accurate to 0.1 g)
Work at about room temperature (18-24 deg C, 64-75 deg F).
First, mix the titration solution -- do this in advance.
The titration solution is 0.1% w/v NaOH solution (weight/volume), that's
exactly 1 gram of NaOH dissolved in exactly 1 litre of distilled water.
Unless you have very accurate scales, it's not easy to measure exactly 1
gram of NaOH. It's much easier to measure 5 grams accurately than 1
So weigh out exactly 5 g of NaOH.
Measure out 500 ml of distilled water into the measuring beaker. Add the 5
g of NaOH. Stir until clear. (This is still a very weak solution, but avoid
breathing in any fumes formed while it mixes.)
This is called a stock solution. Keep the stock solution in the 500 ml glass or
HDPE bottle with tight-fitting cap, mark it clearly: "Lye stock solution".
Generated by

Before doing the titration measure out 5 ml of the stock solution into the 50
ml measuring beaker, and add 45 ml of distilled water. This makes 50 ml of
0.1% NaOH solution. Pour it into one of the small beakers. Stand the
beaker in warm water in one of the basins.
Measure 10 ml of isopropanol into the second small beaker.
Using a syringe, add exactly 1 ml of the used cooking oil you're testing to
the isopropanol.
How to use a syringe: First draw the syringe plunger back about
1/8" (2 mm) to take in some air. Then put the end in the oil and fill the
Hold it up level with your eye, preferably with a well-lit white wall in
the background, keep it vertical, and carefully empty a few drops,
drop by drop, until the bottom of the surface meniscus is level with
the 1 ml mark.
When emptying the syringe into the titration vessel, don't empty it
completely -- the one millilitre volume ends at the end of the scale,
which leaves a little extra in the spout. Empty the syringe only to the
end of the scale, with the bottom of the surface meniscus level with
the 0 mark.
Stand the beaker in heated water in the second basin.
When the mixture has warmed up, stir until all the oil disperses and it
becomes a clear mixture.
Using a second syringe, add 2 drops of phenolphthalein to the isopropanol
and oil sample.
Using the third syringe, add the warmed 0.1% NaOH solution drop by drop
to the oil-isopropanol-phenolphthalein solution, stirring all the time. It might
turn a bit cloudy, keep stirring.
Keep a close check of exactly how much of the NaOH solution you're
adding. Keep on carefully adding the NaOH solution until the solution starts
to turn pink and stays pink for 15 seconds. The pH of the solution is now
The number of millilitres of 0.1% NaOH solution it needed to bring the pH
to 8.5 is the titration result.
A result of less than 2 ml 0.1% NaOH solution means it's good oil, safe to
use as fuel. Oil that titrates at more than 3-3.5 ml is too acidic, find a source
of better quality oil.

We use WVO with our SVO fuel system (Elsbett), but we don't pre-filter it.
We think filtering is a waste of time and it doesn't work very well anyway
(see above re Free Fatty Acid, for example). If you use good quality waste
oil there's no need to filter it, settling it works just as well or better.
The final fuel filters in our Toyota TownAce last a long time using this
method, and we've had no problems.
Generated by

First, for SVO fuel we use high-quality WVO, with low Free Fatty Acid
levels. Our WVO comes from several sources, and titrates at between 0.5
and 3.5 ml 0.1% NaOH solution. The oil we use for SVO titrates at less
than 1.5 ml (we use the rest to make biodiesel).
The higher the titration level, the more water, impurities and suspensions the
oil's likely to contain, and the longer it will take to settle. Gravity settling
works well with oils titrating up to 3.5 ml NaOH solution and more. At
higher levels than that you shouldn't be using that oil anyway, it's too acidic.
If you don't have time to wait for the oil to settle, usually 1-2 weeks, it could
be worth increasing the WVO supply and reserves to make the time.
If in collection you keep ahead of your processing rate, oil has a
chance to settle. I have found that oil that has been sitting for several
weeks is very dry if carefully decanted. Settling also results usually in
oil which is spectacularly clear when observed in a glass container
(you can read fine print through it) which means it is quite clean,
perhaps cleaner than filtering may give you.
-- Joe Street, Biofuel mailing list, July 2006
The restaurants here in Japan get their cooking oil in standard-sized 18-litre
metal cans, and that's how we get the used oil from them, in the same cans.
Other countries use similar sized plastic containers or plastic "cubies" for the
same purpose.
Whether cans or cubies, store them somewhere the oil can settle
undisturbed for up to 2 weeks.
Biofuel mailing list member Tom Kelly does it this way:
I allow the WVO to settle in cubies for a week. (A cubie is the 4.5
gal (17.7L) plastic container that veg oil is delivered to restaurants in.)
I then pour the top 80% of each cubie into a 55 gal drum and
consolidate the bottom 20% of 5 cubies into 1. Most of this will be
ready for the barrel the next week. I have 4 WVO barrels. One is
settled, two are settling, and one is being filled. I pump WVO out of
the settled barrel from the top 3/4. This oil is very clear and requires
very little drying.
I recently helped someone get off the ground making biodiesel. He's a
tinkerer, and came up with an elaborate filtering/dewatering system. I
repeatedly suggested that he trust gravity. He was away for about 10
days and when he came back he called to tell me that he couldn't
distinguish the oil from the top half of an unfiltered cubie from his
filtered oil. Getting rid of his filtering setup has made room for a
settling tank.
-- Tom Kelly, April 2006
We do it much the same way, settling the WVO in the metal cans, then
pouring it from the top. What's left at the bottom is re-settled.
We use a 55-gal (200-litre) steel drum for storage, but we don't pump the
WVO out from the top. The drum has a bottom drain fitted with a 6"-high
3/4" standpipe (15cm-high x 1.9cm), which leaves any sediment on the
bottom of the drum undisturbed. Every now and then we drain the drum to
the top of the standpipe, then remove the standpipe and drain the drum
completely, sediment and all. The "bottoms" are resettled the same way, first
in 18-litre metal cans.
Generated by

The final sediment can be used as fire-starter, or added to the compost pile.

Other quality issues

Avoid drying oils or semi-drying oils with a high iodine value (see Iodine
Values), which can polymerise to form tough epoxy deposits, not good for
Raw oil straight from the oilseed press has to be degummed and deacidified
before use. See Fats and oils.
Deacidification is also recommended for WVO, which can contain acids
that cause corrosion in the injector pump, and impurities that can cause
coking and further corrosion. See Deacidifying WVO, or use oil with a low
FFA content (see above). WVO must be free of water, see Removing the
WVO is usually pre-filtered to the original specifications for the injection
pump, usually 10 microns, sometimes 5 microns, sometimes less.
Alternatively it should be settled long enough to clear -- see above, Filtering.
Many SVO users fit an extra filter upstream with a coarser grade, with the
final filter the same rating as the original. Check fuel filters often, especially in
cold weather when waxes can clog up the fuel system.
SVO is less winter-hardy than biodiesel (which itself isn't very winterhardy). Vegetable oils have higher cloud-points at which they start to gel
(turn solid) than biodiesel made from the same oils. See Oils and esters
characteristics. The same cold-weather solutions apply for SVO as for
biodiesel -- see Biodiesel in winter. See Winterized biodiesel for
preparing WVO for winter use.
With diesel engines unburnt fuel can mix with the engine lubricating oil, and
SVO can degrade the oil. Check the engine oil often. Some SVO users pay
for regular engine oil analyses.

The SVO problem

The central problem in using vegetable oil as diesel fuel is that vegetable oil
is much more viscous (thicker) than conventional diesel fuel (petro-diesel,
DERV, "dino-diesel"). It's 11 to 17 times thicker. Vegetable oil also has
very different chemical properties and combustion characteristics to those of
conventional diesel fuel.
If the fuel is too thick it will not atomise properly when the fuel injectors
spray it into the combustion chamber and it will not combust properly -- the
injectors get coked up, leading to poor performance, higher exhaust
emissions and reduced engine life.
There are many different approaches to solving the problem -- including not
admitting that there is a problem in the first place:

'Just put it in and go'

Myth: Just put it in the tank -- any inline injection pump is happy on
cold veg-oil, they don't mind starting on cold oil, especially with an
older Mercedes.
We hear it every summer, we don't hear much of it in winter though. An
Generated by

experienced SVO'er summed it up on one of the Internet mailing lists:

"I am tired of hearing people say that they can dump veg-oil in an old
Mercedes, do nothing, and it will be fine. It's abuse of a fine engine, it
causes poor, smoky cold starts, the emissions will not be as favorable
as they should be, and the starter, glow plug, lift pump, battery, and
injection pump will all be subjected to higher than usual stresses."
We agree.

Mixing fuels
Myth: Mix it with diesel fuel or kerosene, then just put it in and go.

"I've been running a vegoil/diesel mix, 50/50 winter 70/30 summer."

"I'm running on about 50% petro-diesel to 50% veg-oil, no
"I use 90% WVO and 10% kerosene as my standard summer fuel."

Responses from seasoned SVO users:

"Your cold starts will begin to deteriorate, your filter will probably
start plugging, your injectors will get coked up, setting the stage for
ring sticking, glazing of the cylinder walls, increased lube oil
consumption and eventual engine failure -- if you can continue to get
the thing started in the morning. More than 20% or so veg-oil in the
diesel is not a good plan for more than short term 'experiments'."
"Mixing veg-oil and diesel isn't advisable unless you heat all the fuel."

We've said much the same: "You'll need what amounts to an SVO system
with fuel pre-heating anyway."

Veg-oil blends
A couple of years ago a cars program on British TV publicised a new way
of using vegetable oil as diesel fuel -- "just add a spoonful" of solvent.
The solvent was white spirit (mineral turpentine), with 3% added to the vegoil to lower the viscosity and also to lower the flash point so the engine
would start easier.
It raised a lot of interest among novices, and a lot of scepticism among
experienced SVO users: "experimental at best" and "steer well clear" were
among the more polite comments.
Then it became a matter of secret formulas with a franchised network of
paid-up Local Agents selling the additives, mostly in Britain. Recent
comment at the British-based vegoil-diesel mailing list:
"The often mentioned 3% mix of white spirit does nothing other than
make you think your 'modified' fuel is doing no damage to your fuel
pump." (Oct 2005)
A look-alike or maybe an off-shoot of the British operation started selling a
"diesel secret energy" additive in the US market claiming to make high-Generated by

performance diesel fuel from WVO for only one-sixth the price of petrodiesel fuel.
More details here from some folk who believed it and paid their money:
The recipe: mix WVO with 10% kerosene, 5% unleaded gasoline, a cetane
boost additive and the secret ingredient, which as SVO users discovered
turned out to be... xylol paint-stripper and moth balls, long touted as milesper-gallon improvers for gasoline engines.
Maybe it even works, but again, for how long? Where are the long-term
test-results for safe use of these chemicals in "almost any engine" as
claimed? As one source rather kindly puts it: "Long-term durability and
detailed exhaust emissions data is incomplete." The same comments still
apply: "experimental at best" and "steer well clear".
Adding gasoline to veg-oil is a more recent trend, with some people using
mixes of 10-20% unleaded gasoline/petrol to 80-90% veg-oil.
Myth: "The point in mixing vegetable oil with unleaded gas/petrol
is to reduce its viscosity so that it will move through the fuel lines
and injector pump without heating even during the winter months."
The more important point is not so much how freely the fuel might move
through the fuel lines and injector pump but how it burns when it reaches the
combustion chamber, and little is known of the effects of these additives or
of gasoline on combustion in a diesel engine along with unheated (or heated)
veg-oil. As usual, there are no long-term results.
One user damaged the injector pump of his Vauxhall Astra TDI after using
only 100 litres of a mix of 80% WVO, 10% denatured ethanol, 5% butanol
and 5% gasoline. Injection pump manufacturer Bosch prohibits the use of
any alcohol-blended fuel with the Bosch VP44 injection pump. Whether
such cautions apply to other solvents being used as veg-oil fuel additives is

"Just put it in and go" methods might make some sense for someone out to
save ready cash on fuel bills without much concern for possible longer-term
costs. But biofuellers should be finding the best ways, as most are, not just
the easiest and cheapest ways.
Apart from the cash costs to the user, what are the ecological costs of
replacing a diesel engine 20,000 miles or 50,000 miles or who knows how
many miles sooner than it should have been necessary, starting from raw
materials extraction through each step of manufacturing and supply, with
heavy fossil-fuels use every step of the way? You wouldn't be doing
anybody any favours.
We'd like to encourage people to take intelligent risks and experiment or
we'll never learn what works and what doesn't work. But it's a risk, you're
on your own, there are no guarantees.
The more people use straight vegetable oil, with whatever system, good or
bad, the more likely it is that the car manufacturers will start to take some
notice and begin to realise that there is a market for true multi-fuel capability
diesel engines, and put some research & development effort into it at last.
Generated by

But in establishing what works and what doesn't work, some are likely to be
left along the wayside with the remains of what didn't work. They'll be
heroes in the cause of real straight vegetable oil diesel engines that anyone
can use, not just enthusiasts -- manufacturer-made, supplied and warranted
diesels that can run on petro-diesel, biodiesel or straight vegetable oil, in any
blend, without any fuel-switching or fuss: fill 'er up, switch on and go, stop
and switch off, like any other car.
Currently only the German professional single-tank SVO systems do that.
These are the only SVO systems suitable for "any diesel". See below,
Single-tank SVO systems.

Two-tank SVO systems

With two-tank SVO kits one tank holds the vegetable oil and the other
petro-diesel (or biodiesel).
The engine is started on the petro-diesel tank and runs on petro-diesel for
the first few minutes while the vegetable oil is heated to lower the viscosity.
Fuel heaters are electrical or use the engine coolant as a heat source. When
the fuel reaches the required temperature, usually 70-80 deg C (160-180
deg F), the engine is switched over to the second tank and runs on SVO.
Before the engine is shut down, it must be switched back to petro-diesel
and the fuel system "purged" of vegetable oil before switching off, so that
there's no cold veg-oil left to coke up the injectors next time you start the
engine. Some systems have manual fuel switches, some do it automatically.
One of the few truly scientific studies available found that veg-oil must be
heated to 150 deg C (302 deg F) to achieve the same viscosity and fuel
performance as petro-diesel: "Atomisation tests showed that at 150 deg C
the performance of the rapeseed oil is comparable with that of the diesel
oil." See the European Advanced Combustion Research for
Energy from Vegetable Oils (ACREVO) study:
That's double the temperature the two-tank SVO systems use. At only 7080 deg C. veg-oil is still much more viscous than petro-diesel -- six times
more viscous in the case of rapeseed oil (canola), the oil specified in the
German SVO fuel quality standard.
Some two-tank kit vendors in North America admit that their systems are
still experimental. They point to rising mileage figures by an increasing
number of users, and the data is becoming quite impressive, but few cases
yet approach the high mileages to be expected of diesel engines.
For long-term use, two-tank SVO kits are probably adequate for some or
possibly many IDI (Indirect Injection) diesel engines with suitable injection
pumps. Not recommended for Direct Injection engines. See The TDI-SVO
Whatever their technical merits and shortcomings, two-tank kits are better
for longer-distance driving than for short stop-and-start trips.
See below: Two-tank SVO kit resources

Single-tank SVO systems

With professional single-tank SVO systems there is no waiting or switching

Generated by

fuels as with two-tank SVO kits -- start up and go, stop and switch off, just
like any other car. The engine starts easily and burns cleanly from the start,
even at sub-zero temperatures. (Supplementary heating is available for really
cold conditions.)
Single-tank SVO systems are suitable for both Indirect Injection (IDI) and
Direct Injection (DI, TDI, PDI) diesel engines.
The "secret" is specially made injector nozzles, increased injection pressure
and stronger glow-plugs, in addition to fuel pre-heating.
Journey to Forever uses a single-tank SVO system. They're the only SVO
kits we recommend.
They are made by three companies, all in Germany. They are:
Elsbett Technologie, who have more than 30 years at the
forefront of using vegetable oil fuel in diesel engines.
VWP, Vereinigte Werksttten fr Pflanzenltechnologie
("combined workshops for vegetable oil technology"), founded about
12 years ago by former Elsbett employees.
WOLF Pflanzenltechnik (WOLF vegetable oil technology)
have been providing advanced single-tank SVO systems since the
Elsbett Technologie
Elsbett Technologie has been a leader in diesel technology for 40
years. By the 1970s the company had filed 400 patents, with worldwide
licensing. Elsbett was the first to make Direct Injection diesel engines for
passenger cars.
Elsbett began investigating vegetable oil as an alternative fuel with the Oil
Crisis of 1973. In 1979 it started production of a pure vegetable oil-fueled
engine, the Elsbett Multi-Fuel Direct-Injected passenger car diesel engine, a
3-cylinder, oil-cooled engine with Direct Injection and an integrated
injection system (unit injectors, each with its own fuel pump) which ran on
petro-diesel or straight vegetable oil. Elsbett began converting other diesel
engines to run on vegetable oil or diesel fuel in 1980.
Elsbett Technologie single-tank SVO
kits provide full modification for running a
diesel car on pure vegetable oil, or on petrodiesel, or biodiesel, or any blend of the three.
(Elsbett does not warranty existing fuel
system seals etc for biodiesel compatability.)
Includes Direct Injection diesels, doesn't
include diesels with Lucas-CAV or other makes of rotary pumps. One-year
warranty on parts as well as any proven damage to the engine resulting from
vegetable oil fuel use. Warranty limited to SVO, excludes WVO, but not
limited to rapeseed oil.
Elsbett SVO kits are optimised for each model of car, with single-tank or
two-tank kits available for more than a 40 makes of car. See online catalog
or fill in an online enquiry form:
Generated by

The Elsbett single-tank kit includes:

Replacement injector nozzles manufactured by Elsbett, with the spray

pattern and angle optimised for veg-oil. Injector pressure is increased
by 5 to 10 bar depending on the type of engine.
Replacement glow-plugs that are longer, get hotter and stay hot
Electric fuel filter heater plus coolant-powered heat exchanger as
secondary heat source.
Dual fuel filters.
Oil temperature sensor.
Relays for glow-plugs and filter heater.
Fuel lines.

Elsbett says a "technically skilled owner" can install the kits. You can do it if
you're used to working on engines, have the usual mechanic's tools and can
follow a wiring diagram, though you'll need access to an injector pressure
tester (0-400 bar) to check the opening pressure of the injectors, or find a
diesel mechanic to do it for you, or to do the whole job for you.
Eilish Oils -- Elsbett single-tank SVO conversions in Ireland
An Eilish Oils Workshop with Elsbett's Alexander Noack:
Elsbett Workshop -- Report on an Elsbett workshop with Elsbett
engineer Alexander Noack, by Rachel Burton of Piedmont Biofuels in
Pittsboro, North Carolina, USA, March 22, 2004:
Jim Burke reports on fitting an Elsbett single-tank conversion to his '98
VW A3 Jetta TDI, with Driver's Log:
The Elsbett engine -- the 1979 3cylinder SVO diesel motor designed by
the late Ludwig Elsbett was a highly
advanced true multifuel engine, and the
forerunner of all DI diesels made today.
News article about a Mercedes fitted with the amazing Elsbett engine
(120kb graphic file).
VWP, Vereinigte Werksttten fr Pflanzenltechnologie
VWP, Vereinigte Werksttten fr
Pflanzenltechnologie ("combined
workshops for vegetable oil technology"),
was founded about 12 years ago by
former Elsbett employees. The company
makes high-quality single-tank SVO
systems with special injectors, special
glow-plugs and fuel heating (they're not
cheap). Includes Direct Injection diesels.
German site, use Google translation.

Generated by

VWP supplies single-tank SVO conversions for the German governmentsupported "100 tractors" program, with working tractors converted to use
SVO in a three-year monitoring program. The tractors are the Deutz
Agrotron series with advanced 6-cylinder PDI diesel engines.
WOLF Pflanzenltechnik
WOLF Pflanzenltechnik (WOLF
Vegetable oil technology) has been providing
advanced single-tank SVO systems since the
mid-90s. WOLF has SVO systems for Direct
Injection diesels, and has raced a 245 km/h
Audi A3 Pumpe Dse PDI running on SVO
in 24-hour endurance races at Nrburgring. German site, use Google
The Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark holds regular
SVO workshops for installation mainly of Elsbett and VWP single-tank
SVO systems. Converted cars:
Danish SVO Workshop
Niels Ans of the Folkecenter reported to the Biofuel mailing list on
using single-tank SVO systems with both DI and PDI diesels:
"Using SVO in TDIs and PDIs it not an issue when using proper
conversion technology and proper SVO fuel quality, meeting the
limits specified e.g. in the German RK standard. Proper conversion
includes injectors, glow plugs, timing and other fuel settings.
"See some single-tank SVO cars here. We have made 65 so far.
"We have converted several TDIs and one PDI with SVO singletank systems plus heater (boiler) for winter starts. The PDI is a Lupo
3L 1.2, and has been running on Faroe Island for more than a year
"Some of the TDIs have passed two years and about 100,000 km.
We have imported one TDI from Germany with more than
330,000km on SVO with a single-tank system.
"Two weeks ago I tried the new VW Touran 2.0 PDI (4 valves/cyl)
with a single-tank SVO system. It was very convincing, both the start
and driving. The German company who converted it (VWP) claims
that they make the type emission approval for all their conversions,
which for this car is EURO4.
"SVO professionals claim that the high injection pressure with PDIs is
not an issue. If you study the German '100 tractor
programme' (VWP) you will see that some of the most successful
conversions use PDI technology.
Generated by

"The 'original' 3-cyl 1.5 liter Elsbett Multi-Fuel engine had a PDI
system 30 years ago, so it is not new."
See: The TDI-SVO controversy
The professional single-tank systems are the only SVO systems suitable for
"any diesel".
Other single-tank systems
We've emphasised that these are professional SVO systems. Not all
single-tank SVO systems available can be termed professional.
Some people are using do-it-yourself single-tank schemes with electrical
pre-heating for the fuel and different OEM injector nozzles with a different
spray angle, which are said to be better for SVO. Hotter glow-plugs are
also available.
It can be done, some of the DIYers have built efficient single-tank SVO
systems this way. But in other cases some of the OEM injector nozzles have
resulted in broken glow-plugs. The professional single-tank SVO injector
nozzles are specially made, there are no OEM versions available.
Unlike biodiesel, Journey to Forever does not provide further
resources for building Do-It-Yourself single-tank SVO kits.
Two years ago North American two-tank SVO kit suppliers Neoteric
Biofuels (aka, having bought single-tank kits from Elsbett,
announced their own new "SINGLETANK systems, available for many
VW and Mercedes models". The kit included modified injectors and was
claimed to be easy to install, with an expensive Racor filter so you didn't
need to pre-filter the oil (WVO) -- "better than Elsbett", they claimed at
various Internet mailing lists.
Two years later the Neoteric single-tank kit is available only for the older
pre-chamber Mercedes IDI diesels and apparently now includes only the
filter and a fuel pre-heater. The Neoteric website now says "special injectors
are not needed" and warns that their single-tank kit is only for use in abovefreezing weather. It seems to be just a two-tank kit with only one tank.
Nothing further has been heard of the first Neoteric SINGLETANK
systems with the modified injectors or of any diesels that used them.
More recently, new single-tank SVO kits emerged in Japan, for using WVO
in older swirl-chamber IDI diesel engines. They were marketed by WOI
(Waste Oil Injection), run by an electronics engineer and the owner of a
small diesel injection workshop. They had bought an Elsbett kit and helped
install two others. WOI's dual heating system is similar to Elsbett's, they also
use longer glow-plugs, but instead of replacing the injectors the WOI
method is just to raise the injector pressure by 20 bar (Elsbett raises it 5-10
Having destroyed a VW Golf 3's fuel filter on one of their Elsbett
installations because for some reason they'd installed only half of the Elsbett
dual filter system, WOI's new kit replaces the standard 10-micron or less
final fuel filter with a stainless steel mesh filter of about 60 microns, "which
will not be damaged by the high viscosity of vegetable oil" (nor indeed by
trying to push cold veg-oil through half a filter system). They claim to have
made eight installations of their system so far, but three of those were
probably Elsbett systems.
Generated by

On the strength of all this WOI applied for a major national environmental
technology award in Japan, claiming original development of their carbonsaving technology.
Elsbett aside, this is what Stephan Helbig, an experienced SVO user in
Germany, says at his (English-language) website:
"How it works with veg-oil: Pre- and whirlchamber [swirl-chamber]
engines are mostly unproblematic. Out of experience, simple
prechambers start better with veg-oil than whirlchambers. Therefore
whirlchamber engines are often fitted with 4mm longer glow plugs and
an after start heating relay that will keep the plugs at heat for up to a
further 3 min. For both it is recommendable to increase the spray of
the injectors by raising the opening pressure by about 20 bar." -"Basics about Diesel Injection and Vegoil"
WOI's original technology has in fact been in the public domain for quite a
while. Pity about the massive-gauge 60-micron final fuel filter, you might as
well filter it through a tennis racket.
There are likely to be more such single-tank SVO kits emerging on the
market as the biofuels message spreads. For the time being at least, best
stay with the professional German single-tank SVO kits.

Two-tank SVO kit resources

See Two-tank SVO systems, above.
Elsbett Technologie supplies two-tank SVO kits as well as single-tank
kits, depending on the model. Elsbett SVO kits are optimised for each
model of car, with single-tank or two-tank kits available for more than a 40
makes of car. See online catalog or fill in an online enquiry form: (in German)
BEWARE of people selling plans online for cheap Do-It-Yourself twotank SVO solutions. You could end up paying good money for filter system
plans that tell you to use an old pair of jeans (it's happened).
Diesel-Therm (German pages with English
version) -- ATG Vegetable Oil-Kit, uses electric
continuous-flow heater.
Biodrive -- Swiss two-tank SVO kit with
microcomputer-controlled fuel switching.
BioCar -- Dual-tank straight vegetable oil system
from G. Lohmann in Munich, Germany. Computerized controller monitors
fuel, adding petro- or biodiesel before the injection pump to adjust the
viscosity. German-language site with on-site translation.
German company Aetra makes two-tank SVO systems with automatic fuel
management via micro-computer controls.
Generated by
Greasel -- US coolant-heated two-tank SVO kits. Claims kit is suitable
for "Direct injection, Indirect injection, Common rail, VE, Rotary inline, unit
injectors, Computer controlled". Maybe, or maybe not. See The TDI-SVO
controversy. See also above.
Frybrid -- US-made two-tank SVO kit with computer-controlled fuel
switching. Uses aircraft aluminum heated fuel lines, but the brass parts might
not be such a good idea. See Copper and SVO.
Smartveg -- UK-made two-tank SVO system with computer-controlled
fuel switching.
See: Fuel heaters, filters

Oil extraction and oilseed presses

For a range of small-scale oilseed presses see Oilseed presses at our
Biofuels supplies and suppliers page.
Rapeseed (Brassica napus), or canola, produces about 2,000 pounds of
seed per acre, yielding about 100 gallons of vegetable oil for fuel, as well as
1,200 pounds of high-protein meal (seedcake) which can be used for
livestock feed, or composted, or added to a biogas digester to produce
methane for cooking and heating, or used to make ethanol.
Yields from soybeans are about 60 gallons per acre, from coconuts more
than 200 gallons per acre, and from oil palms more than 500 gallons per
acre. (See Vegetable oil yields.)
On the small scale, one bushel of rapeseed (canola) produces about 3
gallons of biodiesel.
The Sunflower Seed Huller and Oil Press -- by Jeff Cox (from
Organic Gardening, April 1979, Rodale Press): Vegetable oils used to be
one of those items you just HAD to buy. Now here's how to make your
own. In 2,500 square feet, a family of four can grow each year enough
sunflower seed to produce three gallons of homemade vegetable oil suitable
for salads or cooking and 20 pounds of nutritious, dehulled seed -- with
enough broken seeds left over to feed a winter's worth of birds. Online at
the Journey to Forever Biofuels Library.
"The Manual Screw Press for Small-Scale Oil
Extraction" by Kathryn H. Potts, Keith MacHell, 1993,
Intermediate Technology, ISBN 1853391980
Manual oil extraction from peanuts or other soft oilseeds
can be a viable enterprise for small businesses. Describes
small-scale processes of oil extraction for use in rural
areas, as well as ways to market and distribute the oilcake.
From the Development Bookshop:
"Small-scale Vegetable Oil Extraction", S W Head, A A
Swetman, T W Hammonds, A Gordon, K H Southwell and R V Harris,
Generated by

Natural Resources Institute, 1994, ISBN 0 85954 387-0 -- Covers a basic

understanding of the science and composition of oils and economic and
marketing considerations, principles of oil extraction, basic oilseed
processing methods, the major oil sources with specific small and
intermediate technologies for each. Results from actual third world situations
are used. For example, the discussion of obtaining oil from sesame seed
covers a hot water flotation method used in Uganda and Sudan, the bridge
press (laboratory only), the ram press in Tanzania, the ghani process in
Sudan, and a small-scale expeller in the Gambia. Technical details for each
are summarized in a few paragraphs, including oil yields. Includes many
drawings that are helpful in understanding each process, with a 14-page
appendix listing suppliers of small-scale equipment. From the Development
Understanding Pressure Extraction of Vegetable Oils, VITA
Technical Paper #40, by VITA Volunteers James William Casten and Harry
E. Snyder. Full text online at CD3WD 3rd World Development online
Understanding Solvent Extraction of Vegetable Oils, VITA
Technical Paper # 41, by VITA Volunteer Nathan Kessler. Full text online
at CD3WD 3rd World Development online library:
Small-Scale Oil Extraction from Groundnuts and Copra (ILO
- WEP, 1983, 128 p.), full text online at CD3WD 3rd World Development
online library:
Small Scale Vegetable Oil Extraction (NRI,
1995, 105 p.) -- Coconuts, groundnuts, oil palm, palm
kernels, rapeseed/mustard seed, sesame, shea nuts, soya,
sunflower seed, minor oilseeds (reference list). Full text
online at CD3WD 3rd World Development online library:
"Small-scale Oilseed Processing" by Janet Bachmann, NCAT
Agriculture Specialist, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas
(ATTRA) -- Basic processes involved in small-scale oilseed processing,
includes a low-tech method for raw material preparation using sunflower
seeds as an example; information on methods and equipment used for oil
extraction; notes on clarification, packaging, and storage. Sources for
additional information and a list of suitable raw material.
Briquette Presses for Alternate Fuel Use,
by Jason Dahlman with Charlie Forst, 2001 -Design for a simple briquette press that can also be
used as an oil press for seeds. Acrobat file, 2.8Mb
Yields: Typical oil extraction from 100 kg. of oil
Castor Seed 36 kg

Generated by

Copra 62 kg
Cotton Seed 13 kg
Groundnut Kernel 42 kg
Mustard 35 kg
Palm Kernal 36 kg
Palm Fruit 20 kg
Rapeseed 37 kg
Sesame 50 kg
Soyabean 14 kg
Sunflower 32 kg

SVO vs biodiesel
See The SVO vs biodiesel argument

Report of the European Advanced Combustion Research for
Energy from Vegetable Oils (ACREVO) study of the use of straight
vegetable oil as diesel fuel. Investigates the burning characteristics of
vegetable oil droplets from experiments conducted under high pressure and
high temperature conditions. Very interesting study, worth a thorough read
(4,400 words).
Straighter-than-straight vegetable oils as diesel fuels, Michael
Allen, Visiting Professor, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand: What
happens when you try to run a diesel motor on crude palm oil.
Palm Oil as a Fuel for Agricultural Diesel Engines:
Comparative Testing against Diesel Oil, by Gumpon
Prateepchaikul and Teerawat Apichato of Prince of Songkla University,
Thailand. Comparative tests of indirect injection agricultural engines fueled
by diesel and refined palm oil and operating continuously at constant 75%
maximum load and speed of 2,200 rpm.
German PPO fuel standard: "Quality Standard for Rapeseed Oil as a
Unmodified Vegetable Oil as an Automotive Fuel by Peder
Jensen, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, one of the seven
institutes making up the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European
Commission. "Since the 1970s dedicated work has been carried out on
modifying diesel engines to adapt them to run on unmodified or 'straight'
vegetable oil (SVO). This has proven that the concept works well. There
are however a number of structural barriers to the success of this fuel in the
market place which must be addressed if the fuel is to find a role in the fuel
supply of the future." 3,800-word report:
The final version of the European biofuel directive, Directive
2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003
on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for
transport, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, L 123
Volume 46, 17 May 2003, accepts SVO as a biofuel: "Pure vegetable oil
from oil plants produced through pressing, extraction or comparable
procedures, crude or refined but chemically unmodified, can also be used as
biofuel in specific cases where its use is compatible with the type of engines
involved and the corresponding emission requirements." Acrobat file,

Generated by

"Technical Overview of Vegetable Oil as a Transportation
Fuel", 1991, Charles L. Peterson and Dick L. Auld, Department of
Agricultural Engineering, University of Idaho -- see section concerning Fuls,
South Africa, indirect injection engines: Fuls. J., Hawkins, C.S. and Hugo,
F.J.C., 1984, "Tractor Engine Performance on Sunflower Oil Fuel," Journal
of Agricultural Engineering Research 30:29-35. Download (Acrobat file,
Use of Raw Vegetable Oils as Diesel Fuel Replacements -University of Idaho: "... most research with raw vegetable oils have shown
reduced engine life due to polymerization in the ring belt area and in some
cases lubricating oil thickening, reduced bearing life or even sudden
catastrophic failure..."
Using Unmodified Vegetable Oils as a Diesel Fuel Extender - A Literature Review by Sam Jones and Charles L. Peterson,
University of Idaho, September 2002: "When tested in long term tests
blends above 20 percent nearly always result in engine damage or
maintenance problems... many researchers have been involved in testing
programs designed to evaluate long term performance characteristics.
Results of these studies indicated that potential hazards such as stuck piston
rings, carbon buildup on injectors, fuel system failure, and lubricating oil
contamination (Pratt, 1980) existed when vegetable oils were used as
alternative fuels... Engine tests showed that carbon deposits in the engine
were reduced if the oil was heated prior to combustion. It was also noted
that carbon deposit levels differed for oils with similar viscosities, indicating
that oil composition was also an important factor." 4,600-word report.
(PDF, 40kb)
Review: Utilization of Rapeseed Oil, Rapeseed Oil Methyl
Ester or Diesel Fuel -- Exhaust Gas Emissions and
Estimation of Environmental Effects, by Jrgen Krahl, Axel
Munack, Mfit Bahadir, Leon Schumacher and Nancy Elser, 1996. This
report is a review of emissions tests of rapeseed oil and rapeseed methyl
esters biodiesel using the US FTP-75 tests or European ECE-15 13 and 5
tests. Emissions are categorized and compared with petroleum diesel fuel in
different types of diesel engines. Section 2 on Engine Testing Procedures
and section 3, "Environmental Effects of the Main Exhaust Gas
Components", are well worth a read in their own right.
Suitability of used fats and oils as a diesel engine fuel, by
Rudolf Sagerer, Munich 1999 -- in German, German Army university
degree paper, 145 pages. The study used a two-tank system and various
kinds of WVO. Interesting information on emissions -- at high load theGenerated by

emissions and power are better than with Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel fuel
(ULSD), and at part load and low load worse. 1.2Mb Acrobat file.
Vegetable Oil as a Fuel by Darren Hill -- online report, mainly UKbased: The Diesel Engine, Theory of Vegetable Oil Use as a Fuel, Engine
suitability, Heating the Oil, Biodiesel, Micro Emulsions and Blends,
Vegetable Oil Engine Design, Vegetable Oil Furnaces and Heaters, Oil
Types and Filtering, Taxation, Implications of Vegetable Oil Fuel Use,
Sources. Welcomes contributions from users.
Datenbank des Forums 'Fahren mit Salatl' (Database of the forum
'driving with salad oil') -- This German database has information on
hundreds of cars using veg-oil.
SVO Database -- for vehicles running on SVO (straight vegetable oil), or
a blend of SVO. Users can enter their own information according to vehicle
type, pump, fuel system used, etc. Good and bad experiences welcome.
Open access with free password. Hopes to show which vehicles are the
most successful based on mileage and quality of fuel used.
Copper and SVO: "I'm not so worried about the copper but what the
copper does to the fuel. Did you ever check what happened to your fuel
properties like oxidation stability and acid value? A lot of research has been
done in Germany on VO (and biodiesel) fuel properties, and who I consider
as the leading experts clearly warn against using copper in connection with
VO because of the catalytic effect it has on the VO. The laboratory ASG
Analytik-Service (, who were involved in the
research leading to the "Rape Seed Oil Fuel Standard", says that just a few
PPM of copper in VO will change the oxidation stability... [In SVO
systems] with a catalytic metal, I think you have the best conditions and
environment for decomposition of the VO, and the effects it has on the fuel
properties again have an impact on the engine performance, engine
conditions (lifetime) and emissions composition." -- Niels Ans,
Folkecenter, Denmark
Effects of copper on SVO: Standardisierung von Rapsl als
Kraftstoff - Untersuchungen zu Kenngrben, Prfverhafen
und Grenzwerten, by Edgar Remmele, thesis on vegetable oil as fuel -see pp 144-146 for the effects of copper on vegetable oil. Acrobat file,
1.4Mb - in German.
Waste Vegetable Oil as a Diesel Replacement Fuel -- 6,500
article by Phillip Calais, Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Perth,
Australia, and AR Clark, Western Australian Renewable Fuels Association
Biodiesel: The Use of Vegetable Oils and Their Derivatives
as Alternative Diesel Fuels, G. Knothe, R.O. Dunn, and M.O.
Bagby, in Fuels and Chemicals from Biomass. Washington, D.C.:
American Chemical Society. Download full-text article:
Acrobat file, 912kb
MS Word file, 212kb
Operation of a Diesel Engine Using Unrefined Rapeseed Oil
as Fuel, Chiyuki Togashi, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Miyagi
Agricultural College, and Jun-ichi Kamide, Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata
Generated by

University, Japan. Report of tests with unrefined rapeseed oil in a small

diesel engine on short-term performance, long-term operation and no-load
continuous operation using deacidified oil, degummed oil and crude oil.
Results of engine and vehicle testing of semi-refined
rapeseed oil, Kevin P. McDonnell, Shane M. Ward & Paul B. McNulty,
University College Dublin, Dept of Agricultural & Food Engineering, Dublin,
Eignung von aufbereiteten Altfetten zum Betrieb eines
Dieselmotors (Suitability of treated used fats as a fuel for diesel engines),
Dipl. Ing. Olaf Soyk, 1999, 145 pages -- a.k.a. the "Biocar thesis".
Acrobat file, 1305Kb, in German.
Part English translation: a summary of all important diagrams and charts of
the "Biocar thesis", translated by Stephan Helbig: "There are no further
comments of what is shown here. If you want to know more about the
evaluation of these results, maybe contact Biocar. Biocar offers a heated
dual tank vegoil conversion kit that is also made for use of solid, used fats.
Anything in this paper assumes a Biocar kit."
Jim Burke's TDI vegoil conversion -- "Due to the continued price
increases of biodiesel, I have decided to convert my '98 Jetta TDI to
vegetable oil. The price of biodiesel has gone up over 40% in a little over a
year. A kit was recently made available from Elsbett Technologie for
vegetable oil conversion of TDIs. Assuming I use waste fryer oil and my
time is free, I should recover the cost of the kit in just over one year. I'll
document my experiences here."
"Research into Biodiesel Kinetics and Catalyst
Development", by Adam Karl Khan, Department of Chemical
Engineering, University of Queensland, 17 May 2002: Some useful
information on SVO -- Acrobat file, 432Kb:
Comparison of Transport Fuels -- Final Report (EV45A/2/F3C) to
the Australian Greenhouse Office on the Stage 2 study of Life-cycle
Emissions Analysis of Alternative Fuels for Heavy Vehicles, by Tom Beer,
Tim Grant, Geoff Morgan, Jack Lapszewicz, Peter Anyon, Jim Edwards,
Peter Nelson, Harry Watson & David Williams -- CSIRO in association
with The University of Melbourne, the Centre for Design at RMIT. Parsons
Australia Pty Ltd and Southern Cross Institute of Health Research.
Part 1 provides a summary of the salient points of each fuel, Part 2 consists
of detailed chapters on each fuel.
Executive Summary - (Acrobat file 186Kb)
Part 1 Canola - (Acrobat file 12Kb)
Part 2 Canola - (Acrobat file 24Kb)
The Ricardo report: "UK Department for Transport Biofuels Evaluation
- Final Report of Test Programme to Evaluate Emissions PerformanceGenerated

Vegetable Oil Fuel on Two Light Duty Diesel Vehicles", 7 November 2003,
by Diance Lance, Jon Anderson, Ricardo Consulting Engineers. Compared
with Ultra Low Sulphur diesel fuel (ULSD), emissions with SVO were much
higher: "VVO showed increases in HC emissions of ~250% and CO
emissions of ~420% in the VW Passat and increases in HC and CO
emissions of 170% and 60% repectively in the Peugeot 106, compared to
baseline ULSD." Other emissions were also higher. The report has
apparently had a negative effect on the UK government's attitude to SVO
use. It has been strongly criticised -- see next for comments from Niels
Ans of the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark. Ricardo
report, Acrobat file, 2.1Mb:
Why the Ricardo report is just another useless report! -Niels Ans of the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark issues a
persuasive rebuttal to the negative findings on SVO emissions in the Ricardo
report -- worth reading in full for a better understanding of how SVO fuel
works. 2,100 words.
Examination of Pure Plant Oil as a Transportation Biofuel
Experiences and Potentials, by Darren Hill. A critical examination of
the Ricardo report (above).
SVO emissions bibliography -- Compiled by Wolfgang Rougle from
the 55-page bibliography of the Iowa State biodiesel course. This larger
bibliography covers all research aspects of biodiesel and some nonemissions aspects of SVO, and may be useful to you. It can be found at:

Diesel information
How Diesel Engines Work
Diesel Engines (Chevron)
Diesel Fuels -- Technical Review (Chevron)
So, This is Your First Diesel
Breaking in a Diesel Engine
Diesel Injection Systems
Bosch -- Past, Present and the Future
20 Questions with Racor
20 Questions with Stanadyne
Generated by
Robert Bosch type VE Diesel injection pump -- how it works,

Fats and oils

The Fats and Oils: a General View, by Carl L. Alsberg and Alonzo
E. Taylor, 1928, Food Research Institute, Stanford University, California
First in a series of five Fats and Oils Studies published in the 1920s by the
Food Research Institute. Good overview of the subject written in layman's
terms, covers nature and sources of fats and oils, properties, technology,
production, international trade and more. Not very much has changed since
then, it's just grown more complex. A clear and informative guide -- useful
information for anyone making biodiesel or working with SVO. Full text
online at the Biofuels Library.
Oils -- King's American Dispensatory, by Harvey Wickes Felter,
M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D., 1898 -- Informative 5,000word article, clear explanations (excuse the whale oil!).
Oils and Vegetable Fats, by H.F. Macmillan, F.L.S., A.H.R.H.S. -Old text with good illustrations and clear information on many oils of interest
to biofuellers.
Chemical Reactions of Oil, Fat and Fat Based Products -Structure, properties and classification of lipids; Edible oils and fats sources,
processing, bulk products and dispersions; Chemical, biochemical and
biological deterioration. 20,000-word article, diagrams and tables.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Instituto. Superior Tcnico, Lisbon
(Portugal), October 1997.
Food Fats and Oils (2006), Ninth Edition, Institute of Shortening and
Edible Oils -- 44-page online book, 580kb Acrobat file:
Minor Oil Crops, B.L. Axtell from research by R.M. Fairman,
Intermediate Technology Development Group, Rugby, UK, FAO
Agricultural Services Bulletin No. 94, Rome, 1992, ISBN 92-5-103128-2:
Part I - Edible oils, Part II - Non-edible oils, Part III - Essential oils -- Full
text online:
Liberty Vegetable Oil Company lists the fatty acid composition of
their oils as well as other details such as the Iodine Value, SG, Flash point
etc -- Sweet Almond Oil, Pecan Oil, English Walnut Oil, Hazelnut Oil,
Macadamia Nut Oil, Soybean Oil, Oleic Sunflower Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut
Oil, Sunflower Oil, Corn Oil, Safflower Oil, Soybean Oil (Non-GMO),
High Oleic Oils including Canola and Safflower.
This on-line class on fats and fatty acids explains some of the
properties of saturated and unsaturated fats and oils. Structure of Fats,
Variations in Fats and Oils, Functions of Triglycerides:
Generated by