Biodiesel vs SVO
By Rick Da Tech
Oil wells are not the only source of fuel for your diesel engine and oil furnace; you can also burn organic oils like vegetable oil and animal fats in them if the conditions are right. To make the conditions right we either have to chemically alter the oils, or modify our engines to use oil, or thin the oil out with solvents.
Biodiesel is chemically altered vegetable oil. We change the oil through chemistry to make it compatible with diesel fuel. It is so compatible in fact that we can blend it with diesel fuel in any ratio from 0% biodiesel to 100% biodiesel and use it in any diesel engine or in your oil fired furnace. There are lots of short and long term studies on the effects of biodiesel on diesel engines and the common conclusion is that it works as good if not better than diesel fuel. Making biodiesel involves the use of hazardous chemicals which drive the cost of a gallon of home made biodiesel to about $1 a gallon. If making biodiesel at home sounds appealing to you, then you found the right web site, just keep reading.
SVO (Straight Vegetable Oil) can be burned in a diesel engine, if we first thin it out by heating it. Some people decide to modify their vehicles so that heat from the engine is used to thin the vegetable oil enough to pass the fuel system without damaging it. The long term studies show that the typical diesel engine will last about 100,000 miles after converting it to SVO. That's not a problem for a vehicle with 200,000 miles already on it. Most SVO conversions are on older vehicles. An SVO conversion will cost you about $1500. Filtering and drying the fuel to make it usable will cost you about 40 cents a gallon. Read more on SVO at Infopop.
Blending is the idea that we can mix a little diesel, a lot of vegetable oil, some gasoline, and other stuff to come up with a fuel that will burn in a diesel. With this method, you can make your fuel for about 40 cents a gallon without the need for modifications on your vehicle. There are NO studies on the long term effects of blending. I consider blending to be highly experimental with a high risk of damaging your fuel system and engine. Read more about Blending on Infopop.
All of these methods depend on you being able to collect waste vegetable oil in large enough quantities to support your diesel habit. Many people will collect waste oil from restaurants that was used to fry foods. A few have decided to grow their own. A recent trend has started of buying the feedstock vegetable oil from companies that collect it from restaurants. Buying oil can drive the cost up by as much as $3 a gallon.
Whatever you decide, Biodiesel, SVO or Blending, all are biofuels and all will reduce your dependence on store bought diesel.
Modifying a Diesel Fuel System - WVO Designs discusses the differences between SVO and Biodiesel.