I’ve often thought about cruising the countryside in a motor home but was not about to commit to the financial obligation. I was up in Minnesota last summer looking at some property when I seen a school bus for sale. Well I wasn’t sure what that was about because I thought the buses hauled kids till the school bus rotted away.
On the way out of town I saw it again and I could see the for sale sign a bit more clear this time. I saw $1,500 on the sign and inquired about it. Mainly out of curiosity. Well now I am in the process of building a school bus conversion and this is how I got interested in the grease car concept.
I was driving it home on the interstate which was 700 miles from Indianapolis. At the rest stop I seen a bus like mine but painted up all nice and had a younger person driving. After a short conversation with him I come to find out he was running his bus on vegetable oil and that I could do the same thing.
This is a fascinating subject if you are like everybody else and are sick of the dependence on gasoline. The fuel for this vehicle is called bio-diesel and was produced from all domestic and renewable resources. We use petroleum based products for most of our fuel needs and with all the pollutants that come from burning gasoline, well heck. I’m ready to do some experimenting.
Biodiesel does not contain petroleum and It can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a bio-diesel blend. This fuel is free of sulfur and aromatics plus Its nontoxic and biodegradable. But my attraction was how inexpensive the fuel could become. I would have to use waste vegetable oil to make this worth while in the pocket book. So lets get some facts straightened out
According to Wikipedia, ( Biodiesel refers to a diesel-equivalent processed fuel consisting of short chain alkyl (methyl or ethyl) esters, made by
transesterification of vegetable oils or animal fats, which can be used (alone, or blended with conventional diesel fuel) in unmodified diesel-engine
In chemical terms, Bio-diesel consists of long chain fatty acids derived from renewable lipid sources. The lipid (vegetable oil, animal fat or, as in our process, cooking oil) is treated with a light alcohol in the presence of a catalyst. This gives two products, glycerine and Bio-diesel, both of which are bio-degradable and non-hazardous.
A process by which triglycerides-containing, short-chain fatty acid residues are interesterified enzymatically with long-chain fatty acids or their esters, while removing the liberated short-chain fatty acid compounds from the reaction mixture. I really need to be understood before moving on. Mainly because these are the questions I had when discovering the grease car concept.
I want to explain this one more time to drive this home. I had a problem with defining what bio-diesel is. Mainly why bio-deisel has to have diesel engine modification for one type of bio-diesel and doesn’t need engine modification for the other process. Plus straight vegetable oil is not called bio-diesel in some circles. Now the grease car is called a grease car no matter what type of bio-fuel I use. This is why I am getting in to all of this bio-diesel thing to begin with.
Biodiesel goes through a refinery process called transesterification. It is produced from any vegetable oil or fat. The glycerin has to be removed from the oil. Transesterification is a reaction of the oil with an alcohol to remove the glycerin which is a by product of bio-diesel production. The glycerin will be discarded.
I mentioned before that the two resulting substances from transesterifcation was biodegradable and non hazardous. Biodiesel can be blended with petroleum diesel in any percentage or used as pure fuel. Bio-diesel that meets standard ASTM D6751 and is legally registered with the Environmental Protection Agency is a legal motor fuel for sale and distribution.
This fuel for sale will not read diesel on the pump. It will read bio-deisel. When used in diesel fuel engines, biodiesel performance is similar to petroleum-based diesel fuel. There is a higher viscosity in bio-diesel which has to be reduced to change the atomisation in the injector system which gives the right spray pattern.
There are a variety of simple processes for reducing the viscosity which means you wont have to do any modification to the engine. Fleet managers have found that Bio-diesel gives similar operating performance to conventional diesel fuel. This gives it a major advantage over other possible ‘alternative’ fuels.
Is biodiesel the same thing as raw vegetable oil ? No. Are they both called biodiesel ?Yes sometimes.
To begin with raw vegetable oil cannot meet biodiesel fuel specifications, it is not registered with the EPA, and it is not a legal motor fuel. To make this fuel concoction you will use vegetable oil, animal fat or both. Now this is where It gets confusing with this bio-diesel, animal fat and ( SVO ) thing. SVO ( straight clean vegetable oil ) will not need to be processed or modified to run the diesel engine as long as the diesel engine is converted or modified to except ( SVO ). Now this is not necessarily a true statement. I’ve heard conflicting answers on this subject. There are different oils and some work better than others.
Now I know that waste vegetable oil or fryer grease ( WVO ) will have to be de-watered, de-acidfied, and filtered before being used to fuel the engine. There will also have to be a modification of the engine to run the ( WVO ). The diesel engine will have to have modifications to run Raw vegetable oil of any kind. You have probably read someplace where you can just pour clean vegetable oil in the fuel tank and the engine will just fire up and go. Well yes and no.
The engine might very well run with out any modifications to the engine or SVO. But its going to damage the engine in the long run and once you get in to lower temperatures you are going to be dead in the water. You have to consider the specks of the engine design. I’ve heard of fuel pumps wearing out from the fuel viscosity being more than the pump was built for. There are different SVO retrofit kits to chose from and all the kit builders swear by their product. I have reason to doubt their design unless I read something negative on line.
I have seen so many articles about what could go wrong. I will have an answer soon though because I will be wanting to hit the road with the school bus conversion project .My bus is an 87 bluebird so I don’t have to worry about a computerized fuel system. I have heard about them not excepting veggie oil at all.
The grease car is an automobile with a diesel engine running off of a fuel created from a vegetable oil or animal fat chemical modification. That is what I am trying to accomplish with this project. I have been reading where people are driving on bio-diesel fuel for 46 cents a gallon and that is very enticing.