Almost any Diesel engine can be run on SVO (Straight Vegetable oil). You will need to know a few things however before you pop down to the supermarket and fill up on rape seed oil.
The type of injectors you have, the pump, the money you have to spend and the time of year will all play a role in the type of conversion you need. You are going to be faced with a few decisions and there are a few things you need to know.
1 Running on cooking oil fresh or not isn't free. You need to contact Customs and Excise and get yourself form EX103 but only if you use more than 2500L a year. You need do nothing unless you use more than 2500L in a year. With this you can register as a fuels producer. Each month you will be sent a form to declare how much oil you have used. You return this and payment to HMC&E and your all legal. You need do nothing but keep a record of your use if you use less than 2500L in a year.
2 Make BioDiesel or just use straight oil? Whichever you decide there is an abundance of information free on your favourite search engine. 'Search for Running on cooking oil' 'SVO' 'BioDiesel. Read everything you can. I know there is so much of it and most is conflicting. If you decided to go BioDiesel then read no further. Once you make your diesel fill up and go but remember Bio Diesel is more acidic than diesel but you will know this if you have made some. You may need to heat this in winter to allow good filter flow.
3 Ah you’re like me! I read the Bio blurb and decided I’m not a chemist and it all looks a little complicated. Ok decision number 2 SVO, WVO a mix perhaps. OK SVO straight fresh from the shop oils at 56-90p a litre. If you chose this then you are interested in the carbon neutrality and sustainability of running on veg oil. WVO mucky old used veg oil. Ok so you like the idea of saving the planet but want to save a few bob as well. Nothing wrong with that.
SVO Buy the cheapest oil you can rape or sunflower and that’s it.
WVO Collect your dirty oil from friends, restaurants, the local tip or wherever. Buy yourself a big bucket and a 5-micron sock filter (There on Ebay and very reasonable, No I don't sell them). Hang the sock over the bucket and pour your oil in the sock. Empty the bucket into containers. That’s it. Or perhaps a pump filter, costly but high output.
Small point but used oil is thick or solid; more so in winter. Try to collect liquid oil if you can. That is liquid at outdoor temperatures. This will be quicker to filter, easier to handle and wont set like lard in your car. The filters can be washed when they get blocked.
4 Ok so you have your 50 litres of clean or filtered oil what now? Now we face the biggest question of all, duel tank or single tank. They both have for and against. Duel tank can be expensive, hard to fit, you still need Bio or Diesel to start them but they do pose a lesser risk of wear on the injectors, pump and engine and are more suitable for Lucas pumps and HDi cars. Single tank can be cheap, harder to start in the cold and will wear the engine, pump and injectors quicker than a duel tank. How much quicker nobody yet knows. You need to decide which option you prefer.
Twin tank set-up
2 tanks. 1 with the oil (probably water heated if your smart) 1 with bio or diesel for starting and stopping on. A fuel switch, 6 port is probably the best. A switch and purge reminder (not essential). A heat exchanger (water, electric or both, discussed later) and probably a filter along with meters of hose and connectors to connect it all in with. Throw this lot at your best mate because he said you should go veg powered. Once fitted you start the car on bio or diesel. Once the coolant water is heated and the car warmed up the oil should be up to operating temp so you throw the switch and you’re a Greene unless you have already got to where you were going. At the end of the day or if you are leaving it for the day you need to get the oil out of the injectors and pump by purging with Bio or Diesel. Not very good if you are just nipping up town for a loaf of bread and a paper!
Single tank set-up
A heater. No honest that’s it. You need to heat the oil so it is thin like Diesel. You can do this electrically or with the coolant water or even both. Like I said before it does add to the wear and tear of the engine starting on cold veg but its quick and easy and very cheap.
You have 2 ways to heat your oil in the twin and single tank conversions. Electrically, plug in to the mains with a block heater, use a glow plug heater, use a 12v resistive wire heater. With water use a heat exchanger, hose on or hose in hose coil or a plate heater.
Ok there is a bit more to it. You will need to add some diesel to the oil in the single tank This is very important in the winter as the Diesel will help you to start in the morning and stop the oil from becoming a big block of lard in your tank. Water heaters take a long time to get hot so with the single tank conversion you should go electric as they heat very quickly. You can use water to supplement the electric but until you get it started there will be no warm water. You should add injector cleaner now and again. This has two benefits, first it helps remove any deposits from the burning of cold veg oil and it has a centane improver. (Centane is the opposite of Octane. High octane burns easy. High centain resists burning) in a diesel a high centain number is a good thing. Now that’s all there is to it.
A few things I just remembered. You need a good battery and alternator to go electric heating. Watch out for kits using copper, as it seems to react with WVO. If you are on a single tank start with a low mix of oil to diesel and work up. Whatever way you go make sure you change the oil and filters regularly. NO I mean it, you will regret it if you don’t.
Oh and the most important thing of ALL. When your done go to the nearest motor shop and buy 3 chrome letters about £1.50 each B I and O and add them to the badge on the boot. Now everybody will know that 'Your doing your bit for carbon reduction'
Running on SVO
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19 September 2008
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