2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
They’ve Been Driving On Veggie Oil For 15 Years
The two have relied on vegetable oil vehicles for daily travel for over 15 years, starting in 2005 when Wienke heard about the idea on the radio. Wienke spent the next four months modifying a diesel Mercedes 300TD station wagon to run on vegetable oil. The two took it on a road trip from Wisconsin to California and back, learning to deal with the complications of running a diesel engine on veggie oil.
Today, Wienke drives a converted 1996 Volkswagen Passat, while Pisca’s daily vehicles include a Volkswagen Jetta and a 1988 Ford van. Each vehicle has two fuel tanks, one for diesel and one for vegetable oil. You need diesel to start the cars until the heat from the engine warms the oil to the point where it can be used.
Regarding the process of converting vehicles to run on waste oil, the pair believes it’s easier than people think. “We’re average people, and we did it,” laughs Pisca. “In fact, neither of us is too bright, so if we can, you can.”
“First, you will need an older diesel vehicle. Anything newer than 2005 is hard to convert. Second, you’ll need an assortment of parts, including heat exchangers, heated filter heads, fuel pumps, selector valves, fuel tanks, and other things.” Pisca estimates you’ll spend between $1,000 to $2,000 to convert a vehicle. “Third, you’ll need to install everything to ensure your biofuel will arrive at the injection pump at a temperature between 150 to 180 degrees F.”
Sourcing oil can be challenging, as it’s not as simple as pouring it from the fryer to the fuel tank. Says Pisca, “If you want to recycle old oil, you’ll probably need a small restaurant to give or sell you the oil, and you’ll need a centrifuge or gravity filtration setup to convert the contaminated oil to clean oil ready for combustion.”
Make sure you think through the time commitment - not just for retrofitting the vehicles but also for operating them. “Unlike conventional fuel, you can’t just drive up to a gas station and fill up in 60 seconds,” says Pisca. “You’re producing your own fuel for your vehicle, which will take some time if you want to filter and dewater it correctly. Failing will cause engine damage, taking even more time and money to fix.”
You also need to factor in the expense of maintaining the vehicle. “Since biofuel only works with older diesel engines, it’s getting harder to find mechanics and parts for these vehicles,” Pisca says. “So, if you have an injection pump or steering rack die on your antique vehicle, it can be a bit costly or just plain impossible to find a competent mechanic or parts supplier in a time frame you need.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Nick Pisca (firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nickpisca.com/wvo/contact-us/).
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