It’s official – Our tough “Big Horn” Dodge truck has been sold to an alternative fuel usin’, yurt lovin’, RV travelin’ couple based in Santa Cruz, CA. Thanks Jen and Jason and have fun!
We will be looking for a smaller replacement tow vehicle soon. Stay tuned.
Truck purchased used in 2010 – veggie oil system installed 1/2011 – had over 13,000 wvo miles on it at time of sale (5/2013).
There had to be a better way for us to get around than to pay $4 per gallon for fuel in the U.S. and $5.50 per gallon in Canada. Don’t you think? Yeah, we did too.
Proudly powered by Waste Veggie Oil (WVO)
We ran our 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel truck on waste vegetable oil (wvo) using a two tank fuel system. The veggie oil came from a local Oakland restaurant, is filtered down to 10 microns and allowed to settle for several weeks.
Two Tank System
With a two-tank kit, one tank holds the filtered, pre-settled wvo and the other diesel or biodiesel.
The engine is started on the diesel/biodiesel tank and runs for the first few minutes while the vegetable oil is heated to lower the viscosity. Fuel heaters are electrical and/or use the engine coolant as a heat source. When the fuel reaches the required temperature, usually 150+ deg F, the engine is switched over to the second tank and runs on wvo. We noticed that our truck likes it at about 175+ deg F.
Before the engine is shut down, it must be switched back to diesel and the fuel system “purged” of veggie oil. This assures there’s no cold veg-oil left to coke up the injectors the next time you start the engine. Some systems have manual switches, some do it automatically. Ours is manual. We allow a few minutes to complete the purge cycle.
We used a local wvo bay area installer. There are multiple installers throughout the country that offer high quality kits and components for the conversion of diesel engines to use 100% vegetable oil as fuel without chemical processing or addition of harmful chemicals. Our wvo system was completed in February 2011. More info on conversion kits, where to score WVO, resources.
The aluminum tank holds 150 gallons. On the top of the tank in the middle is the spot for the Hotfox. The Hotfox is the heating element which keeps the veggie oil heated to reduce viscosity and help it flow through the engine. On the corner closest to the front there is another circular hole for fill up. This tank will be kept in the bed of the truck towards the back of the cab. Once the tank is full we will be able to get around 2,250 miles – 3,150 miles before we need a veggie oil refill (we get an average of 15 mpg towing, 21 mpg not towing and on the highway).
We always try to leave our home base of Alameda, CA with a full tank of veggie oil. When we need to fill up along the way we have a “go to list” of installers from across the country that usually sell filtered, settled wvo. It usually goes for $2-$3/gallon. Always call a few weeks ahead of time to make sure they have wvo available. We are willing to spend this money because we are assured of the quality from these reputable sources:
Plant Drive – Berkeley, CA
Golden Fuel System – Japan, TX, OH, FL
Green Eye Autos – Eugene, OR
Grease Car – Holyoke, MA
Veg Power – Brooktondale, NY
SmarterFuel – Wind Gap, PA
Full Circle Fuels – OH and NY
Frank Motors – Winnipeg, MB
Note: We also use biodiesel blends in the main tank when we can find it. If we don’t have enough waste veggie oil we also use biodiesel in the secondary tank. Biodiesel blends can range from 2% biodiesel (B2) to 100% biodiesel (B100). We are also changing our secondary veggie fuel filter every 3,000 – 4,000 miles to maintain the trucks driving power.
Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. It contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is made through a chemical process – the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products — methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps and other products). It is true that engines new to biodiesel may get clogged fuel filters at first (so beware).
Our veggie fuel filter (not the same as the main diesel fuel filter) costs $30 for 3 microns and $40 for 10 microns. The first fuel filter was 10 microns and we had to change it at 3,000 miles because the truck was loosing power. On the second filter we tried the 3 micron and only got 1,000 miles before we needed to change it. I think in the future we will use the 10 micron filter.
It is also EXTREMELY important not to start using veggie oil until your engine has sufficiently warmed up AND to completely purge the system of veg oil before you turn off you engine for more than 30-45 minutes. Be extra careful with this in colder climates.
Another concern with biodiesel is that it will gel in cold climates and clog up the engine. When in colder climates, consider using roughly a 25% biodiesel/75% diesel blend to raise the gel point.
For more detailed discussion on possible challenges and fuel properties go to Biodiesel: Things to Know.
To find a Biodiesel station near you, check out the following sites:
www.biodieselsmarter.com/ – Great color map of the U.S. with B100 fill up stations
www.biodiesel.org/ – National Biodiesel Board
www.nearbio.com/ – Finding biodiesel using your cell phone or web
Treehugger.com has some good information on Biodiesel: How It’s Made, Environmental Impact, Where to Find a Fueling Station, and More.
ALSO Check it out – Possible future of biofuel:
Algae as a fuel