Introduction: Waste Vegetable Oil Conversion for Diesel Bus

Picture of Waste Vegetable Oil Conversion for Diesel Bus's bus can get halfway across the country on a single fill of waste vegetable oil ( WVO ).
They get their fuel from the used oil tank behind restaurants.
All processing of incoming oil takes place right on the bus, mostly while it's in motion. That means heating, water separation and filtration. They get about 10 mpg on veggie oil, which is about the same as they do on diesel.

This bus is a VEGGIE DIESEL bus, that can burn straight vegetable oil, as well as regular diesel or biodiesel.
It's a "two-tank" system, which means the bus has a small tank of biodiesel (or diesel) to start the engine, and then they switch to straight vegetable oil when the engine is hot.

For the uninitiated, Biodiesel is veggie oil that's been subjected to a chemical process so it's thin and runny (lower viscosity) all the time and can be run in unmodified diesel engines. This bus runs on straight veggie oil, no reaction needed. It only requires biodiesel or diesel fuel except for starting and shutting down the engine.

Check out ['s website] for the history of how their methods have evolved.

Here Ethan Burke shows the pre-filters.

In another side compartment is the collection hose. They park next to the restaurant's waste tank, dip the end of their collection hose into the top, and start pumping oil into their storaage tanks.

They dip a piece of cardboard into the oil and do other connoisseur stuff to see if they want that restaurant's oil or not.
They don't want the oil at the bottom of the waste tank because that's where water and dirt settles. Their collection hose has a screen on the end to filter out bits of french fries, dead leaves, etc.

Step 1: Storage Tanks

Picture of Storage Tanks

These three 55 gallon oildrums are strapped under the rear of the bus.
The incoming oil goes here. The transfer pump can empty either of the side tanks into the center tank.
The center tank is heated.

Step 2: Water Separation

Picture of Water Separation

Hot coolant from the engine is piped to a coil of copper tubing in the middle tank.
That heats the vegetable oil.
After heating it up and letting it cool down water separates out and sinks to the bottom.
Then they drain out the water at the bottom of the tank.

Step 3: Transfer Pump

Picture of Transfer Pump

This is the main pump. It runs on 110volts from the inverter. The valves let them pump into or out of any of the three oildrums, out to the main fuel tank after passing through some filters, or in from a waste oil container at restaurants.

Step 4: Pre-Filters

Picture of Pre-Filters

On the way from the rear drum to the main fuel tank the hot oil goes through these filters.

These filter housings are available at any hardware store or plumbing supplier.
They contain one-micron nominal bag filters.
"nominal" means the average pore size is one micron. They don't block everything larger than one micron. A lot of multi-micron sized chunks still get through.

The pressure guages on the top are to check when the filters are clogged and need to be replaced.
When there's too much pressure across the filter, it means its clogged.
These filters are in parallel, in other words some oil goes through one and some goes through the other.

Ethan intends to change this so oil goes through three filters in series for finer filtration. He expects his screw on fuel filters in fuel injection system will last longer that way.

They look for very clean oil that won't clog their filters.
Their best oil came from the Falafel fryer at an Arab restaurant.
Chinese restaurants often have good oil.
Oil from frying chicken, any oil with animal fat in it is harder to filter and clogs the filter sooner.

After going through this filter the fuel goes into the main fuel tank. That's the regular stock fuel tank that came with the bus. I don't have any pictures of it. It wouldn't look like anything anyway.

Step 5: The Engine Compartment

Picture of The Engine Compartment

It's a stock diesel engine, stock injector pump, stock injectors, the same as when it was bussing kids to school.
A bunch of additional plumbing has been added to heat and filter the veggie oil.
The next few steps will explain in more detail the function each add-on part.

Heated fuel line
starting fuel pump
Heated screen filters
heated final filters
temperature sensor
various hot hoses.

Step 6: Heated Fuel Line

Picture of Heated Fuel Line

A hot coolant hose from the engine goes back to the main fuel tank. It runs into 30 feet of PEX brand tubing coiled up in the tank. That heats up the fuel in the tank.
PEX is a type of heat-resistant plastic tubing available at hardware stores.

Inside another hot coolant hose is the aluminum fuel line.
That way the fuel is kept hot all the way to the engine.
Here's the T fitting where the fuel line comes out of the hot coolant hose.

This instructable has more details on how to make hose-in-hose heated fuel lines.

Step 7: Heated Screen Filters

Picture of Heated Screen Filters

The heated fuel line carries the fuel through these two heated screen filters with a 20 micron asbolute rating. Unlike the sock filters seen earlier, this micron size actually means there won't be any particles in it larger than 20 microns.
They are Volkswagen motor oil coolers from a junkyard. Each unit has a water hose in and out and a fuel line in and out, so there are plenty of hoses to delight the senses.In the original car, the hot engine coolant is cooler than the hot motor oil, meaning the heat exchanger in this case will heat the engine cooant and cool the motor oil.
In this case, the hot engine coolant exchanges heat with the cooler vegetable oil, raising the vegetable oil temperature as it passes through the metal screen filters.
They work great for that.

The filters are plumbed in parallel to decrease resistance, that is some fuel goes through one filter and some through the other.

The first photo shows a filter with the can removed.
These pleated screen filters seen here are handmade and intended to be used for motor oil.

Step 8: Elsbett Heat Exchanger and Filters

Picture of Elsbett Heat Exchanger and Filters

Our bean-squeezins journey now takes it into the main heat exchanger where it's once again heated by hot coolant. Then it goes through a 8 micron "nominal" filter.

This is an Elsbett brand unit from Germany. There's a temperature sensor on top.
Next to it is a mysterious black dingus.
Ethan says: "The black thing is a primer pump in case you want to pull fuel into the fuel filter before starting the engine and getting air inside. We havent even used it."

Step 9: Temperature Sensor and Starting Fuel Pump

Picture of Temperature Sensor and Starting Fuel Pump

This bus starts on diesel or biodiesel when the engine is cold. There is a separate small fuel tank for the starting fuel. I don't have a picture of it. It's a 20 gallon red plastic tank strapped under the bus.

Once the engine and veggie oil have heated up to 170 farenheit this temperature sensor switches to the other fuel pump and the engine runs on veggie oil.
There's a manual fuel selector switch in the cab also. When shutting down the engine they switch back to the starting fuel tank for a few minutes before turning off the engine. That way there's no cold veggie oil in the engine or injection system the next time they start it.

When veggie oil is cool, it can put pressure on the fuel pump, doesn't atomize well, doesn't burn completely, and can leave carbon deposits in the engine.

Also it's too thick for the fuel injection pump to move it. In the former inadequate heatling and filtering system that came with the bus when they bought (which has since been replaced by the one being described). Their injector pump broke and had to be replaced once because the veggie oil going into it wasn't hot enough.

Step 10: Roof Rack

Picture of Roof Rack

The bus has many other ingenous systems and features, but for now, here's the roof rack.
It's a really simple and good design.

So that's it, a proven veggie diesel system for a large vehicle.
Get good veggie oil, heat it, and filter it.
Make sure it's good and hot before entering the injector pump.
Start up and shut down your engine on something else, either diesel or biodiesel.

For more info or to buy a shuttle bus ticket from SF to Burningman, check out their website.


metamart (author)2009-01-20

Great bus! I do the filtering in 3 steps with 3 different filters, this helps lowering costs as there are filters for 20 mycron available which are reusable(cleanable).
The steps are 20-> 5-> 1. If you were ever wondering what to do with the disgusting rest aka fat.
Here is a solution. :-)
This is a really powerful stove which has about 10 kw. It burns anything like fat, oil or even used engine oil and there will be NO=0! smoke!
If you want details send me a mail

cheers from Germany

mcovertj (author)metamart2016-09-11

metamart - this is coming to you 8 years after you posted this so hope it finds you! I would love the details on your stove build if the info action is still on offer

Many thanks in advance!

greenpig (author)metamart2010-10-31

Hi Metamart

I have got your detailed written plans but have you got any pictures of the steps that I can see or a youtube video?

cheers Greenpig

metamart (author)greenpig2011-12-31

i do not have any picture amterial at the moment.. I will try to make some pictures next week. I am always happy to help but i am very busy at the moment.
Just one thing to mention: be careful with the smoke if it dosent burn decent (white smoke etc.) it hurts in the lungs and is probably very bad.

happy new year

bue1239 (author)metamart2011-12-31

Hi there.
I have been working on a waste oil heater for my workshop and saw this. Any chance you could share the design with me.
Thanks in advance.

TimAnderson (author)metamart2009-06-03

please! post details!

tlowery04 (author)metamart2009-06-03

why is it luminescent purple?

Mick Bevan (author)2015-08-06

Ethanol is widely used in South America as an aircraft and vehicle fuel; E85 biodiesel is common in Europe (not UK and Ireland); biodiesel from rapeseed is common in Europe; use of recycled engine oil as diesel is practised in the US as "black" diesel; Ireland allows 2500 litres of biodiesel tax-free per year; ethanol is now common in European petrol, to at least 10% per litre.....I saw Waukesha V-16 diesels running on natural gas in oil fields. Ran very clean as a result.

JonnyB8 (author)Mick Bevan2015-09-29

Hey all and TimAnderson, grateful for the awesome information resource you got here, I just purchased a 1990 diesel ford f250 2wd lariat ext cab, and was looking for anyone who is selling converted and filtered quality waste oil for cheap as I'm sure someone around the Ottawa Ontario area has made a little filtration chemical setup for waste oil somewhere, with all the micronl filters and potassium and sodium hydroxide chems they need to obtain a pure product... if anyone knows of someone like that or if that's you, please contact me, Jonathan or Johnny for short at 613 741 6648, or email , looking forward to doing business thanks!

JonnyB8 (author)2015-09-29

Hey all and TimAnderson, grateful for the awesome information resource you got here, I just purchased a 1990 diesel ford f250 2wd lariat ext cab, and was looking for anyone who is selling converted and filtered quality waste oil for cheap as I'm sure someone around the Ottawa Ontario area has made a little filtration chemical setup for waste oil somewhere, with all the micron filters and potassium and sodium hydroxide chems they need to obtain a pure product... if anyone knows of someone like that or if that's you, please contact me, Jonathan or Johnny for short at 613 741 6648, or email , looking forward to doing business thanks!

Maw0010 (author)2015-06-27

Ok, I love this but I will share a life experience of mine. I am 100% for reducing waste, BUT a bus ran on vegetable oil will only run so long, and by "so long" I mean not long. I am the general manager of a truck repair shop, and one day a group of kids from an unspecified Ivy League school barely roll into my shop with a dying bus. We soon found out that this bus was powered by vegetable oil. This engine was destroyed on a trip that started in New Hampshire and ended at my shop in the southeast. The damage was so bad to the engine, we had to do extensive repairs and then convert the bus back to diesel power. I do believe it is possible to build an engine from scratch that can run on vegetable oil, but an engine designed for diesel is not going to last long converted to vegetable oil. So.... Before trying this yourself, keep this in mind. And be ready for a hefty repair bill to get you going again when you get stuck. Sorry to be a bummer!!

jfritzy (author)2015-05-29

Wow, it's incredible that you can power a whole bus with this waste oil. I wonder if the exhaust smells like chicken fingers and egg rolls! This conversion must have taken some serious smarts and a lot of patience.

Working with an application as big as that and such a rarely used energy source must have been intimidating. I just finished up my Instructable on converting an air compressor to a larger capacity by adding air receiver tanks and thought THAT was intense.

I can't imagine how much work went into performing this task and THEN logging onto this website to show everyone how you did it. Anyone else crazy enough to try a conversion like this one?! LOL

zartab1 (author)2014-12-14

can any body tell me that how can i get fuel from waste plastic

i saw some videos about " convert waste plastic into fuel diesel patrol, gasoline".But i don't know the equipment. (i want to do it at home.)

waiting for your reply

zartab1 (author)2014-12-14

can any body tell me that how can i get fuel from waste plastic

i saw some videos about " convert waste plastic into fuel diesel patrol, gasoline".But i don't know the equipment. (i want to do it at home.)

waiting for your reply

onemoroni1 (author)2013-10-03

You have done a very nice job and explanation of all your work. I see this was posted a few years ago and I live in Calif. I believe you have to have a recycling permit or certificate to take used frying oil in this state. How do you handle this?

JKPieGuy (author)2012-02-12

That honestly is pretty cool, turning old cooking oil that no one knows how to dispose and running your vehicle off of it.

firewalker22 (author)2012-01-25

Going Green has never been cooler! It is truly remarkable with the energy shortages of the world that it took this long to realized fuel could be made from waste vegetable oil, brown oil, or the grease from grease traps. Biodiesel makes sense!

For more information about how Grease and Oil Rendering is converted to biodiesel and where to sell your grease and WVO visit Hulsey Environmental

tehsuxs (author)2007-08-09

It's cool to see people trying to change the way we run cars on gas, but its sad to say that if everyone started doing this biodiesel project to their cars, that the price of vegetable oil would clearly start to run higher than gasoline. Still an awesome project! How much does a gallon or OJ cost or a gallon of Ocean Spray? Think about it

brad (author)tehsuxs2007-08-09

It is fallacious to think that any one fuel solution will be "the" solution to our transportation and energy needs. Each one has it's trade-offs. We are already seeing the result of subsidized ethanol (corn oil) on the wider agricultural economy. Using recycled oil isn't for everyone, but it's much better than no one using it and it going right down the tubes, isn't it?

tehsuxs (author)brad2007-08-13

Trade offs. Sure.

Biodiesel is a fuel that is made from the long-chain esters (fatty acids) from plants. These are usually concentrated in a few parts of the plant such as seeds.

The problem is that only a very small part of the overall plant, just a few percent of its dry weight, is made up of these esters. The rest is basically some kind of cellulose or starch. So you'd be throwing away that part of the plant (or doing something less useful with it) rather than making fuel from it.

Their may be a niche for biodiesel, using by-products that we'd throw away anyway (like old vegetable oil) , but it would never make sense to grow plants for this purpose -- it would be too expensive (which is what i was trying to get at).

FYI About Biodiesel:

The Penn State site has this to say about the disadvantages of biodiesel:

Biodiesel requires very high production costs. The reasons for this are mainly that soybeans, the predominant source of biodiesel, only yield 20% oil, when much more is needed. Recycled oils can be used more cost effectively, but there isn't nearly enough recycled oil to satisfy the demand for biodiesel as a fuel. Understandably, there are also a lot of steps taken to produce and utilize the soybeans. The cultivation of the crops and the transformation of them into biodiesel takes time. The numerous amounts of manpower and machine needed for this process adds to the high cost.

FYI About Ethanol:


Politically it's hard to go wrong promoting an alternative fuel made from American corn. But, as often happens, reality rears its ugly head.

Ethanol is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, to be sure — using ethanol instead of gas can reduce greenhouse gases by 35-46%, according to Argonne National Laboratory. But it's not as efficient a fuel as gasoline. In fact, it takes a gallon and a half of ethanol to give you the same energy as a gallon of gas.

Let's do some math.

To get a gallon of ethanol, you need a little more than 26 pounds of corn, and an acre of land can yield about 9,400 pounds per year. In other words, one acre of land can generate about 362 gallons of ethanol per year.

But people in the U.S. use about 174 million gallons of gasoline per day just for their cars (so says the Department of Energy). If the Magic Fairy came down and all our cars suddenly ran on ethanol we would need about 261 million gallons per day.

That would require more than 260 million acres of corn to produce. Considering that in 2000 farmers in the U.S. harvested about 73 million acres of corn, it looks like they'll need to get cracking.

They'll also need to get spraying. See, you can't get that kind of yield without fertilizer, and I'm not talking about manure. Corn growers in the U.S. use about 137 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre, according to the 2002 Agricultural Chemical Usage. They'll also need weed control — about a pound per acre of atrazine, the most popular herbicide. And let's not forget all the fresh water for irrigation.

So let's cut to the chase: To get enough ethanol from corn to power our cars, Americans would need to use almost 13 million tons more fertilizer, and dump more than 93.5 million tons of atrazine into the environment every year. (The potential health effects of atrazine read like the small print in a drug ad: congestion of the heart, lungs, and kidneys; low blood pressure; muscle spasms; weight loss; damage to adrenal glands. And that's in the short term.)

There is a lot of good to say about ethanol — it's renewable, it's easily portable, it's fairly 'energetic,' and it burns cleaner than gasoline. But it's not the answer. It's not magic. Remember that politicians are very good at bending the truth and forgetting to mention the down sides. And just because something grows on trees — or stalks — doesn't mean it doesn't cost.

paul2006 (author)tehsuxs2007-10-24

Biodiesel doesn't have to be made from low oil-yielding crops. Google "biodiesel from algae" and you'll see what I mean. You can get at least 800 gallons of oil per acre per year if you are growing algae. Also, you can use wastewater to grow the algae. Converting it to biodiesel is pretty simple, and it gives you fertilizer (the leftovers of the algae after oil extraction). You also don't have to use arable land to grow algae, so no worries about killing our food supply.

The only "real" problems with biodiesel are finding the best way to grow algae and finding a way to keep 100% biodiesel from gelling at low temperatures. (It gets waxy when cold.) Oh yeah, and everyone would have to drive

The advantages are amazing...overall reduction in CO2 (by about 70-75%). Burning biodiesel puts out a little more CO2 than regular diesel, but the production process for biodiesel puts out a LOT less CO2 than the diesel production process. There's already infrastructure in place for biodiesel, which is NOT the case for hydrogen.

So, what's not to love? I'm not saying it's going to be the solution to all our fuel issues, but it's definitely the best choice we have available right now and will buy us more time for other solutions.

Plus, no more importing oil! :) (at least not as much...)

Esmagamus (author)paul20062008-07-15

Driving diesels is not an issue, except for Americans that have a stigma against diesels because they never made the best ones (just the smoky and noisy ones), Peugeot and Mercedes did, and diesel became hugely popular in Europe and most people buying new cars get diesels because they work as well as gasoline engines, have better performance, are more reliable and fuel is cheaper. Also, due to the greater torque a low RPM, driving on cities is easier and more efficient because there less need to rev-up the engine to get it moving without stalling. Using algae ends the problem of using precious land. But still, what could be the environmental impact of large scale algae farming? Maybe this issue needs some more research. About gelling, not all climates have that issue, but think about it: people heat their engines so that the water doesn't freeze inside them. Surely keeping moderate heat on a moderately filled, possibly insulated (in the future, that is) fuel tank should not be a great challenge. Peugeot/Citroen even took precautions against gelling and also assuring efficient vaporization of fuel in their XUD engine range, equipping them with coolant heated fuel filters, which also improved mileage on those indirect injection engines. Ending: the USA will import oil for a long time. It is run more by big business and men behind the curtain them by your legal representatives. The federal reserve can ruin all of America any time, they have the means in their hands. American cars could be much better, but the fact that few Americans want to buy foreign cars creates a self-imposed Detroit monopoly. No competition means "let's relax because this guys are going to keep buying our gas-guzzlers that no European would possibly want. As long as we put a flag on it and mud guards saying "God bless America", we'll sell them." And now the US government is fat of taxes of all the excess fuel you burn, and your car makers are fat of selling you outdated technology and you are being robbed.,

servant74 (author)Esmagamus2008-09-12

Driving diesels in the USA seems to be hampered by our own 'best meaning' regulations. The engines seem to need more monitoring and internal regulation to burn even 'clean diesel' (low sulfur) and keep the nitrogen compounds generated below some 'green' level. That has knocked out all but the best of the diesels for auto use in the US. Mercedes does sell some now. VW is coming back into the market soon. Most of the diesel in the US is used in trucking, farming, or generators (basically non-transportation uses). It is also taxed more heavily in the US than even gasoline. I think the USA will eventually drive cars similar to European, when we pay truly similar prices for fuel. Even at $5/gallon we are paying about 30% less than Europe. Yes, there is some pain as we get there. In the US we have been blessed with 'cheap' energy. It has kept us more petro-oil based than other countries. ... Change is hard, and eventually, even the US will change, IMHO.

Esmagamus (author)servant742008-09-12

Your government is fat from the taxes derived by inefficient gasoline engines that have far too much engine displacement for almost any application under 3 1/2 tons. In Europe, most light trucks have around 2.5 liters atmospheric diesel engines. That is far less than many American trucks have and still, European and Japanese trucks have proved their worth and capabilities. My father owned a Toyota Dyna U10 truck that the previous owner used as a hen coop. It was built as a light truck but even when it was more than 30 years old, it could carry seven tons of clay with great ease. It was just a five cylinder 3 liter engine. Why more? Vehicles in Europe are usually taxed by engine displacement. If someone wants more power but hasn't got the money to pay more taxes, some auto builder is going to have to come up with someone that can make lots of power wth little engine displacement. Some companies are great at doing that: Renault managed to get up to 380 hp from a 1.4 l engine back in their Renault 5 turbo, back in the 80's. Now they make vans with 1.5 l diesel engines that deliver 105 hp with 4.7 l/100 km. That is 50 mpg. And I could go on with the list. One thing is for sure: you are the ones who have to turn the tide. Don't buy vehicles that rip you off and poison your air. Demand better. Tell Detroit "I'm sick of spending fuel on your gas-guzzlers that suffocate me with smoke. I won't buy anything from you until you make economic, environmentally responsible cars."

comp_wiz101 (author)Esmagamus2011-10-27

I know this thread is old but...
I still have my '85 Renault 5 1.4l - It gets around 45-50mpg @ around 100hp. The Turbo models were never sold in Canada, but if I could find one...

HTWTUSA (author)Esmagamus2011-10-21

Here, here!

Couldn't agree more...I dunno why I have to own a 6L diesel, at an avg of ~17 mpg (unloaded) to pull my workload when I know it can be done with around 20% of the displacement and even perform at around 2-300% of the fuel efficiency...

FYI: I drive a Ford f250 Super Duty 6.0L turbo diesel, making a maximum of 305 HP, even though I only use around 200HP when pulling 8 tons around the Smoky Mountains...and I average a little over 9 MPG when towing heavy.

In my youth, I owned a '81 Volkswagen Caddy with a tiny 1.6 L 4-cylinder, ~130HP diesel engine that had a 1/4 ton capacity and I normally hauled a 6000Lb boat and trailer with it... for around 30+MPG...WHILE PULLING!

Nowadays, a 1/2 ton rated pickup can do the same job...with a 4+Liter engine making around 300 HP (way more than needed) and a measly `20+MPG (unloaded)...

Seems like we've regressed, eh?

Big Bwana (author)paul20062008-03-10

Well there's a nice area in the gulf of Mexico, the Dead zone, it's about the size of N.J. some thing like 20 % the size of the gulf and nothing but algae blooms there ... (( And it's warm ))

servant74 (author)Big Bwana2008-09-12

Great, let's to harvest it! :)

tehsuxs (author)paul20062008-07-17

Isn't algae the largest producer of oxygen?

I'm actually pretty sure that algae captures more of the sun’s energy and produces more oxygen (a byproduct of photosynthesis) than all plants combined. No better time to start killing algae than during a global warming crisis right?!?

You know who doesn't have this problem...the Amish. So the solution to all this is, become Amish.

Read more:

paul2006 (author)tehsuxs2008-07-18

The idea is to grow and harvest algae...not strip the entire world of the algae that's currently here.

tehsuxs (author)paul20062008-07-18

The only way this would work is if you created a system of growing algae by using CO2 exhaust from another energy output. Like a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power creates CO2 exhaust, which could be pumped into a body of water to cultivate algae. This algae would be using the CO2 as food and their would be less harmful gases omitted through the nuclear energy process.

Read about it here:

servant74 (author)tehsuxs2008-09-12

Currently much of the CO2 is generated by separating natural gas into components. ... Not a very good way. Algae grows BEST in a higher CO2 atmosphere. But I also remember pine trees growing better in Memorial Park in Houston (several hundred acres inside the 'inner loop') nearer the I610 loop than further away from the CO and CO2 generated by the traffic. (Yes, studies have been done, sorry, I have no references currently available. I am sure any truely 'interested parties' could find them.) Anyway, why go for only the 'OPTIMUM' growth. Choose a 'slightly lower' growth rate and be happy with that? If a source of CO2 becomes available (like from a decomposing land fill?) use it if the $$ work out. Just don't go 'make it because we can'. Somehow that logic doesn't seem to cut it anymore, at least not with me.

servant74 (author)tehsuxs2008-09-12

Then the price would be regulated by economic conditions. If folks think it is more important to put OJ in the tank rather on the table, they will do it. Currently our collective intellect says it is more economical to suck old dinosaurs (figuratively) out of the ground and burn them, and grow our food supply, than to do something else! Currently we don't grow enough for food and fuel. Especially at western world fuel consumption rates.

static (author)servant742008-09-18

There is in the USA currently a lot of land that could grow food and fuel, if attitudes would change. Here in KS there are acres and acres of Interstate median that could grow dry land Milo that is used to produce ethanol. Addressing the consumption rate would be bit trickier.

tehsuxs (author)static2008-09-18

Sorry that just not true. Corn is just a way of yielding cellulosic ethanol. But its not effective enough. I'm sorry if just the science.

Cellulosic ethanol: not likely to be viable
Cellulosic ethanol: not likely to be viable New study from mainstream ag economists at Iowa State

servant74 (author)static2008-09-18

I have always thought it would be great to 'print' lots of low efficiency solar cells, and use them to cover the medians of roadways. It would be a great distributed source of electricity. And for those that want 'continuous power', use the surplus during the day to pump water up hill (fill lakes behind generators), or disassociate water and keep the hydrogen (and oxygen if it makes sense for industrial use). I do remember seeing folks hay the medians before, just not very popular now. What would be best from what I read, is using that land to grow algae in vertical 'farms'. Most algae needed light, and don't get enough if over about 2 to 3" down from a surface, that is why vertical. There are several companies trying to find the 'best algae' to use, but IMHO use ANY algae that can be pressed into oil, and replace it as you find a better strain eventually. My problem with milo or corn or even soy beans, is the amount of energy that is extracted is not sufficiently greater than the energy consumed by the planting/care taking/harvesting/transforming into usable energy cycle. The algae has the advantage of being able to be grown in a 'solar powered' system and the water can be recycled. The effluent (consumed algae) after having the oil pressed out, can be digested for oil, or fed to animals, or used as fertilizer, or buried to sequester carbon. Along the interstates would be great due to the slightly higher concentration of CO2 from vehicles that helps the algae grow better. It is not worth 'making CO2' or spending a lot of energy in concentrating it for use, but use it where it is freely and readily available. Sorry for such a long diatribe.

Esmagamus (author)tehsuxs2008-07-15

You can still build a wood gasifier and run your car on wood scraps and bits of paper. Never heard of it? Got lost with the end of World War Two, but search a bit. Even FEMA has a guide to make one. Unfortunately, I'm out of a test car. I do drive a scrap-heap on wheels, but I'm not allowed to improve it.

sodiumcanine (author)2011-09-09

Sometimes we forget that Diesel was a brilliant inventor and
ran his early models on Peanut Oil. His invention brought us away
from steam. A great book to read and is free online is :

Diesel's Rational Heat Motor

A lecture
By Rudolph Diesel

He was a Genius, Not a Product! And died under mysterious circumstances.

mejayne (author)2009-11-16

We are creating a center called The Global ARC with a bunch of scholars, authors, grassroots passionatios, scientists and begin with a 2000 mile bike journey. We need a bio fuel bus to follow. The project will be a documentary and can be followed in real time. Do you have such a bus?
Contact me at It is time to wake the world up with a positive, educational and evidenced based solutions to the wiked problems we face. Many thanks,

jonveggiebus (author)2009-11-11

 if you got the oil coolers from a junk yard, where do you get replacement filters? 

velacreations (author)2008-09-16

Biodiesel and veggie oil is great in that it replaces a fossil fuel use, but the production of these fuels are not efficient, and yes, they do compete with vegetable oils for foods. You can get about 100-200 gallons of oil per acre from the best oil crops (far beyond corn or soybeans), but from the best alcohol crops, you can get 600-1000 gallons per acre. And this is not using fertilizers, but organic, compost fed (byproducts of the fuel process) biofuel. Corn ethanol is extremely inefficient, but Jerusalem Artichokes are very efficient, drought tolerant, and replant themselves. Butanol from biomass like Jerusalem artichokes would be even better because ti has the same energy content as gasoline and doesn't require modifications like ethanol. So, as you can see, growing oils is not as good as growing alcohols. Methane is best of all, because the byproducts from growing the alcohols and the oils can be used to make methane, not to mention the gasses that are leaking from your municipal sewage treatment plant and landfill. Methane is 21 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than CO2. So, as long as you are using waste oil, that's great. If you are growing fuel, grow for butanol, and use the waste for methane. One more thing on the algae comments. Algae producing oil is a great idea, but that's all it is. No one is doing it beyond a lab situation. So, don't expect to actually get any sort of oil production from it anytime soon. Better to focus on proven techniques, like butanol and methane production. Algae can be used for those as well, but again, it is a theory and demo-level technology, not production level. Wood gas is a good alternative as well, easy to do. It can even use tires and plastic as the input!

Oldfartcoza (author)2008-04-26

One of the byproducts of biodiesel is glycerine. reports that this is used by one company to increase their production of methane in their digesters. Methane can be used as a motor fuel in petrol (gasoline) burning engines. Just a thought.

servant74 (author)Oldfartcoza2008-09-12

Actually methane is all that natural gas is. Pickens would be proud to pump methane into your car or any vehicle we want to outfit for it! ... Actually, it is a good idea, and folks have been working on / with it for many years. Over 20 years ago when I worked for Amoco (now part of BP), they were trying to get a 'natural gas as auto fuel' program going. Spent lots of money on it, but it never took off then either. Methane is also well suited for many chemical processes, general heating, running generators, etc. Also, burning in IC(internal combustion) engines, the engines get less buidup and run much longer than on many other fuels.

static (author)servant742008-09-15

But 20 years ago it was a different world, oil was cheap, American soldiers wheren't dying to insure America's has a supply of it. Climate change wasn't an issue. The Pickens Plan has flaws, so I doubt if we see a whole sale change to methan fuel motor vehicles any time soon. I worked in petroleum production so, I'm aware that methane is a clean fuel as the engine is concerned, but I don't know how clean it is from an exhaust emissions stand point.

servant74 (author)static2008-09-16

Oh yes, about American soldiers dying ... we have been fighting for energy since long before you or I were a glint in our fathers eye. WWII had a great component of energy dominance in it, even if the history books don't point it out. This is not the first rounds of wars about energy, and will not be the last. And IMHO, most of the wars about energy are not about energy or other natural resources. They are about greed and monetary dominance, and basic power. But then again, that is just how I see it.

servant74 (author)static2008-09-16

20 years is a nit in the annals of history. Global cooling was the big environmental issue back then, but few paid attention to it (similar to global warming 5 years ago). And Amoco was looking for a way to market more natural gas. Strictly economics on their, and the consumers, part. The chemistry of burning methane/natural gas shows there are many fewer pollutants power unit of energy. Mainly CO2 and Water. The need for catalytic converters goes away (and the expense). But we do start carrying pressure vessels for the methane. I understand this is still less weight per unit energy applied to the wheels than any of even the newest battery technology. The ones I don't like to see are the folks that use methane to chemically separate out the hydrogen (a simple process) to feed they hydrogen to fuel cells. It is one thing for testing, but not to try to foist on the public as green any more than burning natural gas is. The end chemistry is the same, CO2 and water come out when you break down the methane. But for the fuel cells, CO2 and Oxygen come out, the hydrogen is stripped off to go to the fuel cell, where it is combined with the (now) atmospheric oxygen to generate electricity and water. But that could just be my sensibilities showing ;) (as yet another aside, I saw a program on PBS in the last month or so where an set of scientists were interviewed, about global climatology. They said that yes, global warming is real, caused by emitted gasses, but so is global cooling, caused by particulate matter (ash) put into the atmosphere by burning coal and other carbon ash producing activities like flying jet airplanes. They are saying that global warming is not as bad as the models predict, because of global cooling that is counteracting more of the warming than we initially thought. ... They were able to show the effects of global cooling by measuring the temperature changes that happened the 3 days airplanes were grounded in the USA after 9/11/2001. The graphs and data, not speculation and hand waving, made me a believer that BOTH are happening. If we stop polluting our air with 'ash' we will get global warming happening in spades. If we stop generating 'green house gasses', we will enter a man-effected ice age shortly. So we need to balance what we do, and on a global scale, this makes the balancing act even harder to perform.) Yes, the Pickens Plan has its flaws. But even Mr. Pickens says it is NOT THE ANSWER, but it is a bridge to buy us time to do the really right thing, the right answer, whatever that is. Wind power is great, and not very polluting after we get the initial investment made in the infrastructure. There is still noise, and locals in many areas say visual pollution. They seem to have some issues in the path of migrating birds, on the birds. I am sure baloonists and the like would rather not fly near them either. There are bound to be other issues that come up we have not thought about yet either. Methane, other than natual gas is being used some places. (TVA is tapping a covered dump or two near Memphis and using the methane in a power plant. ... But this is just one example.) But non-natural gas methane will never be a big player, it is just another small part of 'the answer'. By all odds, I think that the public will do another 'oh my, how nice' on the Pickens Plan, just like they did on the EV1 that GM smashed several years ago. (Whether it was in conjunction with oil companies or not, is still a debatable point. I used to work for companies in the 'oil patch', and I wouldn't put it past many of the corporate executives'.) For every vechicle we do convert, Mr. Pickens is right, we will send fewer dollars over seas, and they will be available for reinvestment here rather than Dubai or Moscow. That alone, can help the domestic markets. I do remember seeing MANY pickups in West Texas while I was a boy that had big butane or propane tanks, and were dual fueled. Why? Economics. Gas cost more per mile back then. I do not know the current status of this practice. I was consulting for a local propane company where I live in TN a couple of years ago. I asked why they didn't use propane in their vehicles, especially since their fuel acquisition cost was less than retail. They said it was because they could not develop enough power in the pickup they had to make it up some of the hills in Middle Tennessee (not even the Smokies, but much more than the planes of west Texas). So they did not even encourage use of it for transportation here. Propane and methane have similar energy densities, so I expect that methane in vehicles may not work well 'everywhere'. But where it does work, it is still a better answer, until we are able to make the next step and get off of petroleum based fuels for even vehicular transportation. Given we have the largest proven reserves in the world of natural gas, I find it odd that we are importing it. (Large East coast ports are in Cove Point Maryland and Savannah Georgia, and I don't remember where on the west or south (Gulf of Mexico) coasts.) If the overall solution was simple, and a discussion on a blog would fix it, the solution would already be implemented. This is not a simple series of linear equasions, and there is no one right answer. Sorry for belaboring the point, but this is obviously a personal hot button. I am sure there are many points I am wrong about, but thinking and working in the energy industry most of my life, I have tried to work through many scenario's, and not just those that directly benefit me or my company. What I want is for US to come to and implement a 'basically correct' solution, whether it is optimal or not. The next round of addressing it will give a better solution, but not addressing it at all is the worst answer of all. Thanks for letting me 'vent'.

TimAnderson (author)Oldfartcoza2008-04-26

great link! I know a guy with a backyard full of this stuff

Derin (author)2008-09-14

diesel engines are supposed to preheat...IOW just start it when the yellow coil light comes on,it means preheat complete unless it flashes,that means fault in preheat system or some other piece of s***

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-08-07

cool, also i know you can take a diesel car streight up without mods, fill it with veggie oil and it can run! (only downside 10-20% mpg loss)

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Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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