Fuel Systems FAQs
It is a simple matter of viscosity. At room temperature vegetable oil is thick, sometimes solid. When you heat it up, it gets thin , or in other words the viscosity is lowered. Our system utilizes waste engine heat to lower the viscosity of the Vegetable oil similar to that of petroleum diesel, enabling it to be used in the modern diesel injection system.
First lets break it down into 2 questions.
Is it legal to gather waste vegetable oil.
Who knows?!?! Depends on who you ask, where you live, how much you are hauling, And most importantly, Is anybody really asking?
For 99.9 % of the people who are using waste oil as a fuel, this is not even an issue for them. They make a deal with a local restaurant, pick up a few jugs of oil every week, (which is basically a take out order of greasy fries, minus the fries) and go on about their business. No one bothers them. There is no reason to bother them.
The rendering companies, over the years, have paid for a few laws in a few states, that make it “illegal” to haul waste oil without a permit. (its for your own good you know. It is too dangerous for you to haul 10 gallons of used oil, sitting next to the 10 gallons of new oil you bought to fry a turkey and some fish in) The permit is usually $100 or under, and that is that. The good old American way, use the force of government to favor one business, and require you to pay the ransom for the “right” to do something. To my knowledge the only people who have ever paid attention to this law, is the rendering companies in very competitive oil markets in big cities. The DA has better things to do than to prosecute a dangerous guy with 10 gallons of oil in the back of his Mercedes. I have only heard of 1 or 2 cases where guys that were collecting thousands of gallons of oil, and got into it with the Renderers, and had their hands slapped at the request of the renderers. Like I said they are the only ones who care. It is kind of like some one getting all excited and turning you in for having a garage sale and not collecting sales tax. It isn’t going to happen. The only time the powers that be would care is if you went from a garage sale to a legitimate business open 5 days a week, then they want you to collect the tax. For most of our customers, they are gathering oil from places that don’t have a recycling contract to begin. To me it is a non issue.
There are many arguments you could make for it, how about this one. The oil is food. The restaurant is in the business of selling food, they sell allot of oil with their food. You want the oil, The owner wants to give it to you, buy a burger and fries and ask for a healthy side of oil. You are not hauling grease, you bought food. Will it stand up in court? I don’t know? The chances of you going there are nil. There are many ways to approach it, use your imagination.
But a few things to remember are that people are not getting into trouble over this, and IF there is a “law” it is very questionable if there is any relation to an individual picking up oil for personal use anyway. Whether you burn it in your car feed it to your dogs, or use it to keep the dust down on your gravel road, It doesn’t matter.
If you are gathering on a grand scale, or are in a particularly socialist state and are nervous about it, you might decide to get a renderers license. I encourage everyone to do your home work, study it out in your own mind and decide where you stand on the issue. Ultimately there are endless situations for a variety of different people. It is up to you to decide what your tactic is going to be.
For me personally, I am never for supporting and possibly furthering regulation on something that is so clearly harmless and a natural right. If there is a grey area, which this certainly is, I will side with personal freedom and less regulation. Some people are not comfortable with that. It is for each person to decide for themselves.
Is it legal to use vegetable oil as a fuel?
Most States have no idea where they stand on Vegetable oil as a fuel . It is not an EPA recognized fuel, there for not a “legal” fuel . (Neither is sunshine, water, peanut butter, or small mammals.) Just because something isn’t specifically legal, doesn’t necessarily make it illegal.
In 99% of the cases where people have gone to the state authority and asked “who do I pay for road tax, and how much?” they are told “we don’t know, we have no forms for it, and it isn’t in the book, go away and don’t worry about it.” Every once in awhile they will get the ” You cant do that, you have to fill out the forms, pay the tax, and buy the secret decoder pen to be official!” It is usually and arbitrary decision from a low level administrator that is looking for job security. I have also heard of people getting two different answers out of the same office. The bottom line is nobody really knows in most states, and more importantly very few care. And if they care at all, it is usually positive because they see something good for the environment.
A very interesting point is, the states that will except a voluntary payment of highway tax, are doing so on a “non-legal” and unrecognized fuel. I am sure there is room to explore the ramifications of that concept.
OK, so if there is confusion and different answers amongst the “officials” , then the question has to be asked, why is the question coming up?
Except for 2 instances I know of, which I will discuss later, the only reasons people are getting these varied answers, is because they are doing the asking. This issue is not even on the radar, and the only reason it is coming up is people are asking.
This is really a grey area with white shades in our favor. I have heard and thought of many very plausible arguments as to why using waste vegetable oil is exempt from taxes and is not under any specific jurisdiction.
Without going into great detail, I will mention a few for you to think about, and I am sure if you are inclined you can think of a few yourself.
1. The oil is gathered for free, it is not bought or sold, so there is no taxable event.
2. Sales Tax was paid on the oil when it was bought by the restaurant.
3. Because the vehicle is started and shut down on petroleum diesel, taxes are being paid on that portion, and the veggie oil is only a fuel extender or additive.
4. It is not a recognized fuel, and because of that there is no statute stating the rate of taxation.
5. You only burn veggie oil when you are on private property, or off road, and are not liable for taxes.
6. If no one is asking, (and even if they are) keep it to yourself. It is no one else’s business.
Now the 2 cases I know of where people were “turned in” “fined” or hassled by the Gubment, They could have been totally avoided if the person would have been educated and approached the situation with some anatomy, knowledge and discretion. The “agents” in both situations didn’t have any precedent, they were just applying statute that was similar to see if it would fly. (remember that there is next to no precedent for SVO/WVO cases.) The “guilty” parties were fined. In both cases, within a week there was enough public outrage that the state legislatures passed exemptions for the fines and set the precedent in the positive. So in that sense the people who were involved did ok not resolving it at the scene. The reality was, that once it got past the petty bureaucrats, and went up the line. no one was going to go after these guys for recycling and using a clean alternative fuel. In this day and age it is political suicide to do it.
There is also a very positive movements in several states, and it is gaining momentum. New Mexico and Illinois have “legalized” veggie oil. But one of the most exciting was getting Act 690 passed into law in Arkansas in March 2007. It redefines the law in Arkansas to exempt pure unmodified vegetable oil as a fuel. Essentially saying that they will leave us to use it as we see fit, and they will not tax it or regulate it. Since the passing of the bill several other states have requested information on the bill, and are looking to enact similar laws.
There are essentially 2 paths an individual can choose to take.
1. Seek out regulating agencies, determine if they will take your money, and if they will, volunteer how much oil you are using and pay them.
2. Gather and burn veggie oil, save money, help the environment, don’t support foreign oil, and take the very slight risk that at some point in the future you may have to explain why you chose to do what you did without asking permission and checking if it was OK first.
There are some people who do not feel comfortable with option 2, There is a risk that at some point you will have to explain yourself. Everybody has to study the issue and make up their own minds on the issue.
At this point we are not on the radar, and there is no effort to go after veggie burners. We are seen as hobbyist, and not a threat. There are just too few of us, in the grand scheme of things, to spend the time to create a policy.
In summery, all have to decide for themselves, taking into account their situation, where they live, and how they use the oil, which option they will go for.
Now, although my personal position is probably apparent in this essay, I want to stand up and be counted, and state exactly where I personally stand on this issue.
I believe in personal freedom, and along with that personal responsibility. I value my right to gather my own fuel in the private sector, without government intervention or permission, and to provide for the needs of my family. I categorize it under “The pursuit of happiness” It is a God given right, not a privilege granted by statute.
I have not been quiet about my use of veggie oil as a fuel, I am in a high profile situation with my business, and the fact that my vehicles have the fact plastered all over them everywhere I drive.
I feel that with the situation that we have, where we are being left alone for the most part, that we let things be. But if the situation arises to make a difference or to get policy changed we need to be in the fore front and keep things in the private sector and as unregulated as possible. The Exemption we were able to pass into law in Arkansas is a perfect example. We don’t need government help, just get out of our way and let us do it.
I understand that some of us are on a very fine line, between minding our own business and being perceived as thumbing our nose at the powers that be, but with next to no precedent on most of these issues, someone has to stand up and be counted. There is risk involved I for one want to be able to look my kids in the eye when I am old, and know that I did all I could to appose encroaching regulation on our freedom. I hope that the present trend of exemptions for Veggie oil will continue, but if not, there is a need for people to stand up and do what they can to promote less regulation, and the freedom to be a part of the solution on the grass roots level. Pollution and foreign oil are big problems, problems largely created by bad government policy. I for one, am not going to wait around and hope more government policy will fix it.
Yes, there is risk involved in any cause that is trying to change the status quo. I want to be able to look my children in the eye when I am old, and know that I stood up for what I believed in, and did what I could to make the world a better place.
This may seem like an extreme rant to some, and it may resonate with others. Some may believe that in a business forum that I would be better served taking a bit more neutral approach, but why stop now!?! At the risk of angering a few, and not being very politically correct; I second the words of Samuel Adams,
“lf ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animated contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
At this time most of our customers get their oil free from their local restaurants, so financially it is an obvious move. Most of our customers make their investment back in less than a year, and many do it in a few months. After that, it is money in your pocket. Also, the emissions from vegetable oil are significantly cleaner than that of petroleum. So not only are you saving money, you are saving the environment.
No. The first diesel engines (invented by Rudolf Diesel in the late 1800′s) were actually designed to run on plant oils. Immediately after Rudolf’s untimely demise, his colleagues (who were just then tapping the resources of petro-based fuel sources) swept his veggie ideas under the rug and actually converted his design to run on petro-based ‘diesel’ fuel (which they were nice enough to name after him).
No. Contrary to some Internet rumors, using SVO in a diesel engine fitted with a well designed system will not “gum up your engine”. Like any engine, maintenance is very important . Although Vegetable oil has been proven to be a reliable alternative to diesel, it is not a cure all. Engines and injection systems can and do wear out on Golden Fuel Systems as with petroleum diesel. With that being said, there are some indications that the superior lubricating properties of veggie oil do add a little life to the engine. After all overcoming friction is the name of the game.
Legally, the giver of the warrant would have to prove that the aftermarket addition was the cause of the problem, to deny any warranty service. In the real world though, it all depends on the service manager, if he is in a good mood, and if he has an open mind or not. Obviously, transmission problems have nothing to do with the fuel system and chances are they will fix it without question.
MUCH, much cleaner! Tests vary, but results show that running on SVO produces 40% less soot than diesel, and 50 – 75% cleaner overall. Not only is SVO a renewable resource that’s better for your engine, but it’s eco-friendly as well.
It has been done before and there are many stories of people doing it with success. However, it is a “dirtier” cut of petroleum than even diesel fuel, and running it straight would not make for clean exhaust at all. We have no personal experience with it so will not comment one way or another if it will work. if you decide to experiment with it you are on your own. I would make sure that it was filtered extremely well, and mixed in small quantities with diesel or vegetable oil.
Sadly, no. Diesel and SVO both rely on compression for ignition, and no spark is needed. Neither are volatile enough to ignite with a spark plug (like you’d find in a gasoline internal combustion engine).
Its not the end of the world. If it is summer time, more than likely it will start up with just a few more seconds of cranking than normal. If it is in the dead of winter you will need to plug in the block heater and get the engine warm before you attempt to start the engine. It is not an issue of permanent damage though, just an inconvenience.
No, you can generally expect the same power and fuel economy you’re currently getting on diesel. Dyno test have shown that in many cases there is a slight INCREASE in power with Golden Fuel Systems.
While some mechanics skills are needed, you don’t have to know how to rebuild a transmission or engine to install one of our kits. A general knowledge of your diesels fuel system, basic tools, and a willingness to get your hands dirty are important.
There are two ways that you can run this higher viscosity fuel in your diesel engine, both ways have to do with reducing the viscosity of the veggie oil.
One way to do it would be to make Biodiesel, a chemical process called transesterfication, where you mix methanol and lye with veggie oil to separate out the glycerin. This thins out the oil to a viscosity similar to diesel. The other way to do it, and the one that makes most sense to us, is to thin out the oil with a parallel auxiliary fuel system, using the waste heat the engine is already producing.
Every one has put a pot of oil on the stove to cook something, and what happens when the oil is heated? It gets runny, thin, or in other words the viscosity is lowered. This is the approach that we use.
The benefits of Straight Veggie oil, SVO, over biodiesel is that once the conversion is done there is no reoccurring cost, besides regular maintenance. Just put in filtered waste veggie oil that is free from restaurants. With Biodiesel, every gallon you make costs money. Even the most conservative estimates are about $.75 per gallon. There is also the issue of the disposal of the by-product which is about 20 to 25% volume of the batch of biodiesel. I am not saying that biodiesel is bad, it just doesn’t make sense for most people.
AM General , 6.5L Hummer
BMW 524TD 2.4L
Cadillac Deville 5.7lL
Chevy 6.2L P.U Trucks And Suburbans
Chevy 6.5L P.U Trucks And Suburbans
Chevy 6.6L Duramax
Chevy Chevette 1.8L
Dodge 5.9L Cummins all years (98.5 to 2002 not recommended )
Dodge D50 2.3L
Ford 7.3 IDI
Ford 7.3 DI Powerstroke
Ford 6.0 Powerstroke
GMC (see Chevy)
International Scout 3.2L
Jeep Liberty 2.8L
Isuzu Trooper II 2.2L
Isuzu PUP 2.2L
Mazda B2200 2.2L
Mitsubishi Mighty max 2.3L
Nissan Pickup 2.5
Toyota Camry 1.8L
Toyota Corolla 1.8L
Toyota Previa 3.0L
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota PU 1L
Toyota PU 2LT
Winnebago Le Sharo 2.1L
Polaris Diesel ATV
Wildcat Tracked ATV
This is a fairly complete list, although there are a few that we know we’ve missed.
Even though you may not see it on the list, if it is a diesel, chances are we have or can convert it.
The 6.0, unfortunately, is not as reliable as its older brother the 7.3L. The overall concept of the injection system is the same, but the physical size of the unit injectors is much smaller, which led to catastrophic failure on diesel. The other problematic component that Ford added was an HFCM, or Horizontal Fuel Conditioning Module. This is located on the frame rail and consists of a pump that pulls fuel through the filter, a fuel heater, and a special valve that loops the return fuel when it is cold out, for the express purpose of heating the fuel. There were also numerous sensors and computers that had issues, as well. Some owners can run for extended periods without any issues and then there are some owners that are back at the dealership in less than 5K with major problems related to the injectors, HFCM or computer.
Mechanically, there is not an issue running veggie in this engine. The problem is the inherent computer glitches and the tendency for injector issues. We have converted quite a few 6.0L Powerstrokes with varying degrees of success. For some, there are no issues. However, for the majority of 6.0L owners running SVO, there have been the similar injector, HFCM and computer issues that occur when running just diesel. Warranty service is not guaranteed by the dealerships in that case.
We are continuing to test local vehicles to find the magic bullet. However, as the issues are not consistent, it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact formulation for SVO plumbing and components. GFS has spent thousands of dollars in an attempt to make the 6.0L a legitimate and reliable SVO vehicle. At this point, GFS cannot recommend purchasing or running SVO in a Ford 6.0L.
The 6.9 is a V8 design, and is a very good engine. It sports a Stanadyne injection pump, that has proven reliable with veggie oil. The pump has a Normal life cycle of about 80K , but I have seen them go much longer. ( I had one that had 160K on veggie.) They are not as strong as an inline injection pump, but they are good, and relatively cheap to replace. $450 vs $2000 for an inline pump.
You can expect about 15 MPG with this engine, give or take a few.
The 7.3 is almost identical to look at, and is the same design with the same injection system on it. Just a bit more displacement, and a bit more power.
Both are excellent choices for conversion.
The unique thing about the Ford trucks up to 97, was that they almost always had 2 tanks from the factory, so they lend themselves to a Golden Fuel Systems main tank conversion quite handily.
The early 94â€™ 7.3L, pre- Powerstroke came with a factory turbo and is an exceptional engine. It was the last year of a long production run, and they had all the bugs worked out. The Turbo makes a difference. 16 to 18 MPG is not uncommon.
The Cummins 5.9 is legendary for longevity. It is a rock solid engine. One of the things that make it so good is the straight 6 design. With the straight 6 design there are 7 main bearings on the crank, providing a very strong lower end on the engine. The Cummins is a great engine if you want to do allot of performance modifications to, because the strength of the design they can take the extra H.P. The 89 to 93 had a VE style injection pump that works fine with veggie oil. The 94 to early 98 had the P7100 inline Injection pump which is one of the best injection pumps known to man. 89 to 98 were 12 Valve engines. Any of these years are a good candidate for converting to SVO.
If it is between the years of 98.5 and 2002, and has a VP44 injection pump, sadly we do not advocate the conversion of this engine, at this time. We have spent allot of time and Money analyzing the effects of veggie oil on this pump. In the end, although veggie oil was not directly linked to the failure of the VP44 injection pump (it was an electronic problem, not mechanical) there were enough gray areas that we determined not to advocate conversion of this pump. The 03 and newer 24 valves are fine, and do not have any problems.
The 6.2 and 6.5 were designed by Detroit diesel and were a vast improvement from the 5.7 debacle. They were built as a diesel from the ground up, so the reliability was vastly improved. The main difference between the 6.2 and the 6.5 is .3 liters of displacement, and a Turbo charger on the 6.5. The 6.2 had a mechanical lift pump and the 6.5 had an electric lift pump. Although the 6.2 and the 6.5 engines are not bad engines, they are not really great engines either. They tend to have trouble with the bottom ends, and a failed crank shaft is a common cause of death for these engines.
They are equipped with a Stanadyne injection pump, that has proven reliable with veggie oil. The pump has a Normal life cycle of about 80K , but I have seen them go much longer. ( I had one that had 160K on veggie.) They are not as strong as an inline injection pump, but they are good, and relatively cheap to replace. $450 vs $2000 for an inline pump.
The later model 6.5 diesels had an electronic control module that was married to the side of the injection pump (little black box) that has a reputation of malfunctioning and causing problems when hot. Although it can be a problem, there is a fairly simple aftermarket fix for it, and I wouldn’t worry about fixing it until it broke. Although not my first choice for an engine, it can be considered as a good candidate for conversion.
The Chevy Diesel has a sordid past, and a less than stellar reputation. Not all of it is deserved, but some of it, unfortunately is. It all started when a few GM technicians got together one night. My suspicion is that there was alcohol involved, and someone jokingly suggested they take the 350 gas engine, slap some diesel heads on it and call it the 5.7 Oldsmobile Diesel. Bad Idea. You have to build a diesel from the ground up.
The engine was plagued with bent rods and blown head gaskets. The engine just was not built to handle the compression of a diesel. This engine had a lot to do with the negative stigma that is associated with the diesel engine here in the USA. There is nothing wrong with the fuel injection system, Stanadyne, or running the 5.7 on Veggie oil, but the overall engine is not reliable. If someone gave me one, or it was a few hundred bucks and in good shape, I might buy one, but I would not go out looking for one. You would just be buying yourself headache. If you have one already though, it can be converted.
The Jeep Liberty was the first mid-size sport-utility vehicle available with a diesel engine in the U.S. It’s equipped with a bullet proof 2.8 L CRD (Common Rail Diesel) engine produced by VM Motori, which is owned in part by Detroit Diesel, a DaimlerChrysler company and lends itself quite nicely to running on SVO. Unfortunately, the Liberties were plagued with transmission recalls, suspension recalls, and torque converter/ECM recalls among other issues. Although this vehicle exceeded sales expectations, DaimlerChrysler claims to have discontinued the Jeep Liberty with a CRD due to the 2008 emissions regulations. Due to the compounded issue of these inherent flaws and reliability concerns as well as the lack of qualified technicians in this country to work on this vehicle, GFS does not recommend purchasing this vehicle. However, if you do own a Liberty and believe it to be reliable, then it might be a good candidate for an SVO System.
In regards to driving on SVO, Jeep Liberties are fine for driving long distances, but are not as well suited for city driving. When running on SVO, the Jeep Liberty has a tendency to smoke when idling, even for 30 seconds with a hot engine. In addition, there is a big plume of black smoke when pulling away from the stop light. This is not a comforting image for the owners, so GFS made it a priority when we were developing our Computer Modification Programmers to get the Jeep Liberty software to address this issue. By altering the idle timing circuit we were able to clean up the smoking and increase the power and fuel economy.
Besides the smoking issue, which can be addressed, they have some other quirks. Liberties do not take well to shutting down on veggie. With any other diesel that we have converted, you can shut it down on veggie and as long as the engine stays hot it will restart on veggie just like diesel. With the Liberty, it can be 90 degrees outside, engine hot as can be, and if you turn off the vehicle for even 5 minutes on oil, you will have to crank on it for 10 seconds or so for it to start. This means that every errand and quick trip you make, you’ll have to flush with diesel. However, the Liberty is not ideal for a short range driver, or a driver that is not “in tune” with the whole conversion process and theory.
Oil Gathering & Filtration
Oil Gathering and Filtration
The subject of gathering and filtering Waste Veggie oil is a very important one. Once the vehicle is converted, putting good, clean, filtered oil in the tank is paramount. We always get the Question What does good oil look like? Where do I get it? How do I filter it? Although we can give some general info it is really a subject that needs to be approached visually. This is why we made the DVD Liquid Gold, it covers all you will need to know to go out and find good oil. We strongly suggest that you get this DVD if you are going to be gathering and using waste veggie oil as a fuel. It will save you from making a lot of the mistakes commonly made.
NEW! Liquid Gold 2 DVD available in our shopping cart.
Charles Anderson from Golden Fuel Systems shares the Do’s and Don’t's of Gathering and using Waste Vegetable oil as a fuel. Perfect for anyone who is currently using, or planning on using Vegetable oil or Bio Diesel as a fuel!
These questions and more are answered on this DVD
• What makes good waste vegetable oil?
• How do I identify bad waste vegetable oil?
• When out gathering what do I look for?
• How does salt and sugar affect waste vegetable oil?
• How do I tell if thereâ€™s water in the oil?
• How do I filter the oil once itâ€™s gathered?
• How do I filter in colder temperatures?
Aside from the actual mechanical conversion of the engine, the most important thing you will deal with is the oil gathering and pre-filtering process. There are several rules to remember about oil, and the gathering thereof,
1. All oil is not created equal . (On the eighth day god created liquid gold)
Be patient in your initial hunt for oil. Forget the fast food places and chain restaurants. They tend to have nasty oil, and are less likely to let you have it.(not that you want it.) Smaller independently owned restaurants tend to have better oil, and you have a better chance of talking with someone who will give you permission. Chinese and Japanese restaurants seem to be the best, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
When you look into the container it should look dark, and liquid. If you look in and it is white and creamy, walk away. Clarity of the oil is more important than color. Some oils are clear but dark. Take a sample of the oil in a clear container and see if you can see through it at room temp. If you can, it is good stuff. If you can’t, you should keep looking.
If you take your time, and hold out for the liquid gold, your life will be much easier. The time and effort it takes to heat, filter, settle, and dewater bad oil is usually counter productive. There is plenty of great oil out there, be patient, find it and enjoy.
2. Thou shalt not covet the last few inches of oil in the barrel
All oil will settle out given time. The nasty stuff like water, dirt, and small mammals will settle out to the bottom. No matter how good the oil is on top, there is bound to be some junk on the bottom. So always suck off the top, and watch for that settling line as you go down. When you find it, stop pumping and leave that last few inches. Itâ€™s the last few inches that will clog a filter bag prematurely. (greed cloggeth filter bags.)
3. Thou shalt not steal oil.
Always ask permission from the restaurant. They may have thrown it out, but it is still nice to ask. They are almost always eager to help you out, and it creates a long term relationship that benefits everyone.
When there are undesirable bumpy chunk in your oil, it is imperative that they be stripped out of the oil before being introduced into your fuel system. We wont go into it in detail here, and there are a few variables, but to put it simply, how good a filter works can be put into a simple equation surface area VS. gunk.
Restriction because of a filter that is too small, or has clogged prematurely, can be a pain. Solution: Use a big filter, size does matter, especially with veggie oil. Your filter may have a 30 gpm flow rating, but no matter how hot the veggie you will still not realize that flow rate. We use the biggest filters in the industry. We have taken a few pictures of our filters next to filters sold by another SVO company.
And our favorite
When burning a waste product, you will clog a filter at some point, how often is your choice. Bigger filter element = More surface area to strip out more impurities.
This heater will heat continuously past 150° F and towards boiling, depending on the volume of fluid and if the container is insulated and protected from the elements. Each unit comes with a stainless steel Guard and has an automatic shut-off. This unit can be found at Farm Stores around the country. It is very useful for heating the oil for pre-filtering use. Check it out in action on our Liquid Gold DVD!
Myths, Misconceptions and Misinformation
Myths Misconceptions Misinformation
There is a commonly accepted myth out there that when you are using veggie oil as a fuel, that the oil in the tank, filter and fuel lines, up to the injection system have to be at some magical, exact temperature to work properly, and that if the oil isn’t to that arbitrary temp, the system is somehow deficient and there will be engine damage.
Now, to dispel the myth.
How hot does the veggie oil have to be, to burn trouble free, in a diesel engine? The first thing we have to establish is, why is it a concern? When a diesel fuel system injects fuel into the combustion chamber it forces it through tiny holes in the end of an injector, causing it to atomize, or in other words, spray in a very fine mist to mix with the air so it will burn completely. The viscosity of diesel fuel is low, or you could say it is thin. Vegetable oil, at room temp. is thick, or the viscosity is high, if you tried to spray it through an injector at room temp, it wouldn’t spray well at all, it would just drip. The problem with that is that the fuel would not combust properly because it would not have mixed with the air. You would eventually get coking or the build up of carbon (incompletely burned fuel) on the end of your injectors and in the combustion chamber.
What to do?
There are two ways that you can run this higher viscosity fuel in your diesel, both ways have to do with reducing the viscosity of the veggie oil. One way to do it would be to make Biodiesel, a chemical process called transesterfication, where you mix methanol and lye with veggie oil to separate out the glycerin. This thins out the oil to a viscosity similar to diesel.
The other way to do it, and the one that makes most sense to Golden Fuel Systems, is to thin out the oil with heat. Every one has put a pot of oil on the stove to cook something, and what happens when the oil is heated? It gets runny, thin, or in other words the viscosity is lowered. This is the approach that we use: If the oil is above 160 deg.F, the viscosity of the oil is getting close to the viscosity of diesel, and will spray just like diesel.
It is generally accepted that if the oil is over 160 Deg. F. it is safe to inject into and engine, in other words, it will atomize properly.
OK, we have established veggie oil is thicker than diesel, the veggie oil must be thinned in order to spray the oil properly. No arguments up to this point. But here is where people start to get off track when it comes to designing an SVO system. The myth has been perpetuated by individuals and other upstart, Johnny come lately conversion companies, that the oil has to reach some magic arbitrary temp. in the conversion system before it gets to the engine, or the whole world will come to an end and your diesel will turn up its toes and die instantly. They design systems with solutions to problems that do not exist. No matter how hard you tried it would be impossible to inject cold oil into an engine that is up to Normal operating temperature.
The part they are missing, is that every component in the fuel injection system IS A HEAT EXCHANGER. Every engine has an ambient core temperature of between about 160 and 200 degrees. This is determined by several factors, the thermostat being one of them. And although the ambient temp. is between 160 and 200 degrees, there are components and parts of the engine that get hotter. The function of the coolant is to take the heat away from the engine and disperse it into the atmosphere through the radiator, and although the coolant is circulating around the head of the engine where combustion is taking place the metal in the head, where the injectors are embedded is hotter than the coolant. Think of a cast iron skillet boiling water, the water will be 212 deg.F but the metal on the underside of the skillet will be much hotter. Lets go over a couple of scenarios:
Lets say we have a diesel engine with a VE style distributor pump, married to the side of the engine, that is up to normal operating temp. of 190 deg. F. We then introduce veggie oil that has been heated to 95 deg.F, much cooler than the desired injection temp. The first thing it will do is enter a hot pump, that if you shot it with a infrared temp gun will be in the neighborhood of 150 or more. The first thing it will do is pick up the heat from the interior components of the pump that will be hotter than the exterior. It will then start its journey to the injector by being pressurized to thousands of pounds per sq. inch. What happens when you pressurize something? The molecules get close together and start bumping into each other, friction = heat. Think of squeezing a snow ball, water comes out because the temp was raised because of pressure. Also think of a pressure cooker, it is a fraction of the pressure that an injection pump created, but it still has significant results.
To drive this point home I want to share an experience I had when doing the research on the VP44 injection pump used on certain Cummins engines. I went down to Little Rock, Arkansas to a fuel injection shop that worked on the VP44. While we were there we went into the test room where they had a pump on the test stand calibrating it. The room was air-conditioned to about 65 deg, and the fuel was cooled to 80 deg.F for calibration purposes. The injector lines going to the injectors and the injectors themselves were in the open, cool air, not in a hot engine compartment. They started spinning the pump to simulate normal operating speed, and within a matter of a few minutes the injector lines were too hot to touch, and the injection pump itself was over 150. This is in an air-conditioned room with nothing but the temp rise from pressurizing the fuel. See my point?
Ok, so we have gone into the hot pump and picked up some heat, then went from no pressure to a highly pressurized state, more heat, then the final stage is the injector. The injector, no matter what the style will hold a small volume of fuel, this injector is embedded in the hot block, and the end of it is exposed into the combustion chamber that is thousands of degrees. The new fuel comes into the top of the injector and has a bit of time before it gets spit out into the hot combustion chamber. This final heat exchanger is allot hotter than the engine coolant could ever think of getting.
Lets say we go through some heroic efforts, and have some oil that we were able to get to 275 Deg. F. If that oil was to then enter the injection pump, the pump which is also affected by the core engine temp, would start to absorb the heat and the oil would acclimate and inject at about the same temp as the cooler oil in scenario 1. was injected.
THE AMBIENT CORE TEMP OF THE ENGINE IS WHAT WILL DETERMINE THE TEMP OF THE INJECTED OIL, NOT THE HEAT EXCHANGERS, COOLANT OR ELECTRIC, INSTALLED BEFORE THE ENGINE.
The massive heat sink, that is your engine, is far more effective a heat exchanger than any coolant or 12 volt heat exchanger you could use. All you have to do is get a infrared temp gun, a hot diesel engine, and you will see that this is sound Logic. Just shoot the pump, and the injectors as they go into the head and you will se what I mean. And that is external temps, the internal will be hotter.
I used the VE style pump as the worst case scenario as far as temps is concerned, because it is separated from the engine by a few millimeters. If you have an engine with unit injectors where the fuel rail is embedded in the head, the cards are stacked even more in your favor. Also shoot the rail on a common-rail diesel that is up to temp, and tell me if you think you could actually inject cold oil into your engine.
So if the engines core temps dictate the injection temp, what is a well designed SVO conversion systems goal?
A SECONDARY TANK FOR DIESEL TO GET THE ENGINE UP TO TEMP, AND UNRESTRICTED FLOW UP TO THE INJECTION SYSTEM.
Oil that is too cold and thick, wont flow, so by heating the tank, the hoses and the filter, you can reduce the viscosity of the oil and ensure that it will flow, unrestricted up to the injection system, and then, let the engine, your final heat exchanger do its thing.
Trying to get the oil up to some magic temp. in the tank, or putting in a temp sensor so you won’t inject cold oil is missing the point and unnecessary. A vacuum gauge to measure restriction is much more useful than a temp sensor.
Now, I expect from this essay there will be a fair amount of screaming from the other side that this is blasphemy, everyone knows that the oil has to be 178.924 deg before it goes into the injection system or you will inject cold oil and coke your engine Don’t let them, or me for that matter, make up your mind for you. If you have questions or doubts, do the temperature tests. Simple as that.
It is impossible to inject cold oil into an engine that is up to operating temp. The inherent design of a diesel engine will not allow it, and neither with the laws of thermodynamics.
In the early 80′s there were some tests done by several universities on older direct injection tractors and generators that indicated that they were not well suited to run on vegetable oil. The reported results were injector coking, ring coking, loss of power, excessive smoke, hard starting and other problems related with improper combustion of the fuel. (Coking is the build up of carbon from incomplete combustion.) In most cases, it was reported that the problems were forthcoming fairly quickly, and because of the progressive nature of the problem, it got worse in a hurry. This may sound like bad news for those who have a direct injection diesel, but wait, there’s more. In reviewing these results I was struck by several things that made me take a closer look.
First of all, most of these tests were with unheated vegetable oil, and since the whole Golden Fuel Systems concept has to do with reducing the viscosity of the oil, via heat, it is easy to see why this aspect of the test does not correlate with what we do here at Golden Fuel Systems. The next thing that got my attention is that in several cases they reported problems with the engine on diesel as well as veggie, suggesting that the overall control conditions of these tests were suspect. When I was approached years ago with the prospect of converting our first direct injection diesel, (a VW TDI) I started to research the issue, talking with diesel injection professionals and injection pump rebuild shops all over the country. The deeper I got into the issue, the more confident I became that direct injection diesels of today would burn veggie oil as well as their indirect injection counterparts, if not better. The customer was informed of his role as a pioneer, and all the ins and outs of the conversion, and he was ready to do it. We took a lot of heat from people who said we were jumping the gun, and that there wasn’t enough test data to chance a conversion of a direct injection.
Fast forward a few thousand successful conversions with millions of real life miles, and those same nay sayers are proponents of a VW TDI conversion. The same thing happened when we converted a Ford Powerstroke, Chevy Duramax, Dodge Cummins, and all the other direct injection diesels available out there. “It wont work, your being irresponsible, you will harm the engine, direct injections won’t burn Veggie, the “tests” prove that!” Again, all these vehicles have since put on considerable miles with NO PROBLEMS! When I say considerable I am talking 60,000 miles on veggie and more. And not just one, many of them are in that mileage range, some pushing 200,000 miles since conversion. All of these early pioneers were willing to give it a shot, so that those who are converting their new direct injections today, know that there have been others that have gone on before, and they are still on the road. Is this just luck? Or is it possible that the infamous studies were a little off track? (You can find studies that say IDI diesels are not suited to burn veggie either.)
So what does this all boil down too?
The DI diesels that we drive today, and are available to us, have substantial veggie miles behind them. These “field tests” have been done in the real world under the same conditions that you can expect to experience, on the same vehicles that you might be considering converting. Not only by Golden Fuel Systems, but by people all over the world. The question is, “What “tests” and what “experts” are you going to believe?” The 20 year old “studies”? Speculation from someone who has never converted a DI, and is just regurgitating hearsay? (When asked where are these failing DI engines, they never can provide one.) Or, a company that has successfully converted hundreds of DI diesels, with hundreds of thousands of veggie miles behind them? I always go with the hard evidence, and in my case, personal experience.
So, having said all that it is up to you the, potential customer, to decide what camp you are in. If the case I have made doesn’t make sense to you then by all means, don’t convert your Direct injection diesel! But if you feel like this experiment is far enough along for you to comfortably join in and make history, welcome home!
On a side note, some people have the opinion that if it was an “official” university study, then it must be Gospel. They also have the opinion that if the it is a business or someone trying to make money, that puts forth their data, then it is suspect. (Greedy capitalists trying to get as much money as they can before the truth gets out.) We have a different take on things. We take great pride in our customer satisfaction, and our reputation. The only reason we are in business and continue to grow is because we have satisfied customers who refer their friends.
The information, tests, and data we provide is provided so we can sell more kits, and convert more vehicles! This may come as a shock to some, but it is one of our biggest motivators! This is what has fueled innovation and discovery throughout history, like it or not. We have found that the best way to go about this is to have a great product, backed with experience and sound data. Call me a cynic, but I will take private sector experience over a government funded study, any day. The private individual will be held accountable by the market place.
And lastly, I have farmed 103 acres for the past 4 summers with a 1999 Polaris Diesel ATV (single cylinder, direct injection) and a 1981 John Deere tractor, ( direct injection 3 cyl. Yanmar Diesel, Not only is it DI, but it has the infamous flat top pistons!) I have used waste vegetable oil in both of these, WITHOUT a conversion, or a diesel start up and shut down, from May to September for 4 years. I have yet to have a problem.
The test continues…
DSE Diesel Secret energy and other adatives:
If you take filtered veggie oil, mix some kerosene, gasoline and diesel with it, to thin it out, and then mix in a special bottle of liquid pixy dust, then of coarse the logical conclusion is that it is the pixy dust that will make it run in your engine! Not. Blending diesel with veggie and running it in warm weather can work in certain situations. I have experimented at length with blending, and never used the pixie dust. I am not saying that DSE wont work in warm weather, I have talked to people who have run it without trouble in warm weather. But not having a secondary fuel system to switch back to when you clog a filter, or not having a thin enough mix and getting caught in the cold is a real possibility and concern. The biggest thing to remember that it is not the pixie dust, or the 8oz bottle of DSE that makes it work.
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I just wanted to thank you for all your help. Richard got the car all fixed up and we are running on grease. I really appreciate you all's willingness to help. You've been great to work with. I can't say enough good things about everyone at Golden Fuel.
Thank you again,
— Beth Smith, Napoleon, MO