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March 2018



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Last Tuesday, when Tammy was visiting, J told us about something he had read about biodiesel.

He basically described the two tank system. You start the engine on standard petroleum based diesel fuel while the vegetable oil heats up then you switch over. Then before you stop you switch back to the petro-diesel fuel.

I thought that you could go all vegetable, so I didn't understand why you needed the petro-diesel fuel to start (from a renewable resources perspective any system that still depends on petroleum is flawed). And Tammy wanted to know why you couldn't heat up the veggie oil with electricity. Since J is not a diesel mechanic he didn't know off hand.

I further confused things by remembering that diesel is a type of engine not a type of fuel. Although the fuel that is best for diesel engines is called diesel. (When I was in sixth grade we had a class on internal combustion engines that I still remember. Unfortunately what I remember is that a Rotary engine is a Diesel engine, it isn't.)

Then today syreene posted a link to this article Grease Is The Word For Car Economy By Laura Walsh, The Associated Press, May 24, 2004

Which included a link to Liquid Solar an Ithaca based company that sells filtered vegetable oil and installs the conversions kits from GreaseCar, and led me to Straight vegetable oil as diesel fuel

A site that answered my questions. J was accurately describing one system, but the alternatives Tammy and I suggested also work.
SVO (straight vegetable oil) systems

Apart from the Elsbett system (below), the best systems use two tanks, one for SVO and one for diesel or biodiesel. Start up the engine on biodiesel/diesel from one tank while the SVO in the other tank is heated to at least 70 deg C (160 deg F) using the engine coolant and/or electric heating. Once it's warm enough, switch the fuel supply to the SVO tank -- and then back to biodiesel/diesel several minutes before shutting down. This flushes out the fuel system and prevents cooling SVO from clogging the injectors and filters. Extra upstream filters should be included.

Elsbett, Germany -- Full modification for running a diesel car on pure vegetable oil -- includes new injectors, glowplugs, heat exchangers, everything required. This is the truly professional system. Diesels modified by Elsbett will run on SVO, petro-diesel, biodiesel, or any blend of the three.

P.S. These are cool sites.

Journey to Forever The aim is to help people fight poverty and hunger, and to help sustain the environment we all must share.

HowStuffWorks is widely recognized as the leading source for clear, reliable explanations of how everything around us actually works.



My boyfriend is obsessed with biodiesel. I have no idea why he is so gung ho about it, but it felt like the last time I was in Ithaca (2 months ago) it was all that people talked to him about. He had an idea for starting a biodiesel factory where you make the fuel and use the glycerin byproduct to make natural soaps and stuff.

Interesting the synchronicity of all this.


I think the biggest concern with using SVO is heating the oil in Winter. Even if you owned an SVO vehicle and had a garage, odds are you'd still end up parking outside in the cold. And if you used an electrical system you'd have to think about how the electricity is being generated.

I read somewhere that the man who started the Gaia Movement is a proponent of nuclear energy. I am as well - in addition to renewable sources of energy. I tell ya, oil companies should be investing in alternate fuel sources; that way the stuff will get developed quicker and they'll still be making money and thus be willing to support it.