• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Biodiesel vs WVO in a 7.3 IDI  RSS feed

 
Posts: 27
Location: Central Coast, CA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey everyone,

I've got a 1994 Ford E-350 Uhaul that I've converted into a rolling home. It's got the 7.3 IDI, originally selected because of the advantages when converting to WVO.

I've been second-guessing my WVO decision, for several reasons. I've had a few friends suggest biodiesel to me. My original motivation for WVO was that I didn't want to buy fuel. My motivation for biodiesel would be the same... I'd rather spend the time filtering/making my own biodiesel or WVO than spend the time sitting in an office to make the money to buy it for $5/gallon.

So, what are the pros and cons of WVO vs biodiesel, from an entirely DIY standpoint? My preliminary thoughts... there seems to be a fair amount of the preparation that is similar. Whatever is collected has to be filtered, heated, dewatered, etc. There are obviously some additional steps in making the biodiesel, so I can imagine that the process would be a bit more time consuming.

Financially, installing a conversion kit for WVO ranges $500-$1500, depending on how much of it I do/fabricate yourself. If the vehicle dies though, there will probably be some significant work in adapting/fabricating a system for the next vehicle. With the biodiesel apparatus, I buy one processor (which I've heard is at least 2x the price of the WVO setup) but the end result can be used in anything that runs diesel.

It seems like if there were multiple vehicles, the bio would make more sense because you can just have a store of fuel processed and fill anything. If you just had one, then the WVO saves the expense of the processor and the chemicals.

Can anyone else offer some thoughts/insight?
 
steward
Posts: 3395
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
do you have two fuel tanks? I've got an '86 6.9 idi and two tanks. put biodiesel in one for warm up and cool down, and wvo in the other for the rest of the trip.

I would imagine you'll still need a fuel tank heater and additional filter for the wvo, but having two tanks simplifies things a lot.
 
Wes Cooke
Posts: 27
Location: Central Coast, CA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey tel,

I was planning on two tanks if I go the WVO route. Plenty of room in the Uhaul for it, and it definitely looks to make things a lot easier.

Thanks
 
pollinator
Posts: 598
Location: Victoria BC
28
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Wes,

I've got a '97 E350 Powerstroke shortbus that I'm considering converting to WVO, once I've finished camperizing the inside so that I can move in.

I've also got a '93 Isuzu Elf with a 2.8L 4JB1 diesel in it, which is first in line for a conversion.

In both cases, I'm keen on a second fuel tank anyhow. The Elf needs a bit of weight in the back or it will spin the tires on flat gravel, and there is space below to add the tank. The E350 I just want unreasonably long range.

For me, I don't like the idea of dealing with the methanol and glycerin byproducts, and my engines should be happy on WVO, so those were factors.

The main things for now, though, are that I'm not doing this on land I own, and space and mess tolerance are limited; adding the biodiesel aspect would not be popular. My WVO source is fairly low volume; it took me a long time to find one at all, so I'm unwilling to invest heavily in gear at this point, and some used gear adequate for the Elf looks like a pretty cheap option; to do the powerstroke right looks a lot more pricy.

The final argument for WVO is that you can leave the existing fuel system essentially intact, so that you can revert to that at startup/shutdown, or if you have a problem with your WVO fuel system. If you have a problem with the vehicles fuel system while running biodiesel... well, best hope it's not serious, since it's the only fuel system you've got!

Once I move to a more permanent home, if I secure 2+ good sources, I might think about biodiesel again.


I'll be interested to hear what decision you reach; do you have a thread for your uhaul? Are the idi vans missing the tachometer like mine was? Bugged me, so I bought an AIC with RPM display on it.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3395
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dillon Nichols wrote:For me, I don't like the idea of dealing with the methanol and glycerin byproducts



the methanol can be recovered with a simple still and reused for the next batch. I've heard mention of possibly using ethanol instead of methanol, too, but don't know how practical that is on a home scale.

and the glycerin makes pretty good soap with a couple more steps. smells a little funny, but cleans very well.

all of that is adding more work, of course, and methanol is pretty nasty stuff, so your objection is certainly valid.
 
Wes Cooke
Posts: 27
Location: Central Coast, CA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dillon Nichols wrote:
I'll be interested to hear what decision you reach; do you have a thread for your uhaul? Are the idi vans missing the tachometer like mine was? Bugged me, so I bought an AIC with RPM display on it.



I've got a thread over at expedition portal outlining the build, link: here

We're in pretty much the same position as you, we're living on a living farm right now tucked away in a corner, living in trailer while I get this build to a point that we can live in it. So we are also space/mess limited. And mine didn't have a tach! Mine's got the E40D automatic transmission, so I don't really see much need for the tach... why did you feel you needed one?

tel jetson wrote:the methanol can be recovered with a simple still and reused for the next batch. I've heard mention of possibly using ethanol instead of methanol, too, but don't know how practical that is on a home scale.


I've heard that using ethanol is a more involved process, and not recommended until you've mastered the methanol. I may have misheard though!
 
author
Posts: 16
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Wes Cooke wrote:So, what are the pros and cons of WVO vs biodiesel, from an entirely DIY standpoint? My preliminary thoughts... there seems to be a fair amount of the preparation that is similar. Whatever is collected has to be filtered, heated, dewatered, etc. There are obviously some additional steps in making the biodiesel, so I can imagine that the process would be a bit more time consuming.



Hi Wes,

I think you've summed things up pretty well.

Vegetable oil is more viscous than diesel so the fuel needs to be thinner in order to atomize properly on injection and reduce wear on the fuel pump.

Running SVO is modifying you vehicle - running biodiesel in modifying the oil. Both can and are being done successfully by many people worldwide. It really boils down to your personal preference and abilities. I really don't like wrenching on my car, and also am not overly fond of collecting and de-watering oil, so I prefer to buy commercially produced biodiesel from my local small-scale biodiesel plant. There's no right answer that fits every one - just what works for you.
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
Posts: 598
Location: Victoria BC
28
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nice build; definitely stealthier than my shortbus!

The trailer tucked in a corner is exactly what I'm doing. My van is at the bare metal stage right now; I bought it with factory insulation and flooring intact... and then I had to gut it to deal with mold inside the walls, courtesy of leaks I didn't spot ahead of time. Also got to drill out ~140 5/16" bolts in order to remove the tie-down strips since they prevented removal of the floor which prevented removal of the walls... and now that the floor and all the inside panels are out anyhow, I'm dealing with any visible rust while it's still minor. Sooo... it's taking a hell of a lot longer than I'd hoped!


As far as the tach goes, I just like to see what's going on. Even though I do have an auto, I may want O/D off for hills or towing, or need to adjust my driving for optimal results... more data helps. Given that the sensors collecting this info are already there, it ticked me off that they omitted the gauge; I guess they figure most vans are work vehicles driven by employees who don't give a shit anyhow.

As a bonus the AIC will let me run a high idle to avoid wet-stacking, in case I need to idle for an extended period. I also added an Auber Instruments pyro, and Aeroforce multifunction gauge. If you need a pyro, the Auber is great. OTOH Aeroforce has been a nightmare, would never deal with them again.

Does yours have a turbo on it?
 
Wes Cooke
Posts: 27
Location: Central Coast, CA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ouch Dillon - sounds like a pain. That's the nature of these projects I'm learning though - always takes longer than you anticipate I'm basically ripping half the stuff I previously did out right now and making upgrades. I wanna make this thing bulletproof

I feel ya on the tach, I definitely wouldn't mind it. I'm just going by ear right now, which seems to be suiting me fine. Keeping me very attentive to my vehicle, maybe a little too attentive at times.

I don't think mine has an AIC, since it's the pre-powerstroke. If I pump the gas once before starting it goes into high idle until it gets warm, but that's about the only idle control I have. No turbo as of yet, although I'm strongly considering dropping the $$ for a Banks turbo, only for the gas mileage increase. The non-turbo is a dog up any steep hills, but I'm not in a hurry anyways... the 11 mpg is killing me though. I'll definitely look into that pyro if I add the turbo... first have to scrounge up $2,500 that I don't have.
 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So depending on where you live you don't need to convert WVO to diesel and such. The 7.3l drinks used car oil, WVO, Kerosene (with added motor oil) like a redneck drinks wine. It doesn't care! In my 2000 7.3L Turbo Diesel I have used straight used motoroil with no harmful effects several times. NOTE: You do need to filter it, a coffee filter works to get the gelled oil and chunkies out of it, and depending on your locale (I live in Texas) dewatering is as easy as using any diesel additive that controls water. I prefer Seafoam from Walmart as one 16oz can does 25 gallons easily, if you think you have more water, add more cans, it doesn't hurt the diesel. If you live in the colder climates, a simple routing of your radiator hose with a built in heater will will eliminate that problem as well. Just run your modified radiator hose along the fuel line (which goes along the fuel pump) to the tank and double it back to connect it as usual. So instead of a 3 foot hose, you have a 20 ft hose. Using a 12v or 120v heater will keep the oil thin enough to start the diesel (allow proper warm up) and you are good to go. Dual tanks help as you can still have diesel in one and WVO in the other. But either way you go about it it works the same. For your home having solar to keep your batteries topped off or on a different switch for when you eventually move works the same way.

The in hose heater is the best for this type as you are heating the glycol first and foremost, which if installed on the side that goes to your WVO tank helps in faster startup. Also install a thermometer in that hose so you can see the temperature. 120 degrees is minimum, 140 degrees is ideal. Again depending on your climate changes things. Good luck!
 
Posts: 160
Location: wanderer
27
bike fungi tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
7.3 driver here... been running biodiesel (B20 - B99) & WVO (SVO) for several years now. I've made my own homebrew biodiesel & currently collect, dewater & filter my own WVO. Before converting my vehicle I did several years of research - research which continues to this day. I cannot speak to your needs or experience, so I will only speak from mine & you can take or leave my advice as you need.

Wes Cooke wrote:My original motivation for WVO was that I didn't want to buy fuel.  My motivation for biodiesel would be the same... I'd rather spend the time filtering/making my own biodiesel or WVO than spend the time sitting in an office to make the money to buy it for $5/gallon.


From my experience the process of making home-scale batches of biodiesel is a time consuming (time = money) & potentially hazardous. Most homemade processors do require babysitting during processing. It requires working with highly flammable (methanol) & caustic chemicals (lye). Without years of experience working with these substances, I would caution against exposing family members & neighbors to potential disaster.
After my first few batches, I personally did not feel confident. I now buy B99 from a local vendor to fill my "dino-diesel" tank; I blend to B20 for the winter months & switch to WVO once it's warmed up, running WVO most of the time. By using mostly WVO I have saved lots on fuel over the years.
If you feel comfortable safely working with these substances, the Appleseed Biodiesel Processor is an open source design that can be made inexpensively with off-the-shelf products: a water heater & pipes +  valves +  fittings:
https://utahbiodieselsupply.com/biodieselprocessorkit.php
Also, I would recommend properly washing the biodiesel. Many people financially skimp on this part & pay much more for it in damage later:
https://utahbiodieselsupply.com/washtankkit.php

Wes Cooke wrote:Financially, installing a conversion kit for WVO ranges $500-$1500, depending on how much of it I do/fabricate yourself.  If the vehicle dies though, there will probably be some significant work in adapting/fabricating a system for the next vehicle. With the biodiesel apparatus, I buy one processor (which I've heard is at least 2x the price of the WVO setup) but the end result can be used in anything that runs diesel.


Financially speaking, to run WVO in your vehicle you will not only need to invest in the parts to convert your vehicle that you mention, but also the equipment to adequately filter & dewater the WVO before it goes in your tank. The only way to truly get all the suspended emulsified water out of the oil is to invest in a centrifuge. As a centrifuge will also filter particulate to smaller than 1 micron, you will save money in the long run on fuel filters. Although it is good practice to change the onboard filter on your vehilce at least once a year as time & exposure to outdoor temperature & humidity fluctuations will degrade the element over time.
Investing in a very well thought out pre-screen + filtration system &/or centrifuge is necessary for both making biodiesel & for being able to put WVO in your onboard tank.
Initially, I spent a significant amount of money on my WVO pre-screen & filtration setup (stainless steel suction screens & Parker/Racor 1000FH Fuel Filter / Water Separator Assemblies) & after further research I regret it. I have since read memos from Parker engineers that the assembly is designed to dewater diesel fuel. They have not proven that it adequately dewaters WVO. I'm not confident that I'm properly dewatering the oil & will invest in a centrifuge when the funds are there. I currently have as much invested in my pre-screen & filtration setup as it would have cost me to just get a centrifuge in the first place.
Sufficiently heating & settling all the water out of WVO successfully so as not to do injector damage instead of using a centrifuge is a controversial & unsubstantiated claim. From my research & experience, the jury is still out on this process. Centrifuge is the safest bet if you want to be sure you don't have to spend thousands of dollars doing frequent injector replacements.

Wes Cooke wrote:No turbo as of yet, although I'm strongly considering dropping the $$ for a Banks turbo, only for the gas mileage increase.


Typically folks who put Banks kits on their vehicles like to show it off by putting a Banks sticker on their fender. Check your local salvage yards for IDI trucks with Banks stickers & get you a turbo for a couple hundred bucks if you feel like you need it. Though, if your sourcing the WVO for free, the moderate mileage increase a turbo may give you seems trivial to me.

Robbie Robinson wrote:In my 2000 7.3L Turbo Diesel I have used straight used motoroil with no harmful effects several times.


For running motor oil I would especially recommend a centrifuge: US Filtermaxx sells made-in-the-USA centrifuges to properly get the metal particulate out of Waste Motor Oil: https://usfiltermaxx.com/en/

Above all: research, research... RESEARCH! If your main goal is to save money, remember that injector replacement jobs on diesel engines due to not properly filtering & dewatering oil will cost thousands of dollars:
http://www.biofuelstechnologies.com/forums/
http://www.burnveg.com/forum/
http://biodiesel.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=cfrm&s=447609751
http://utahbiodieselsupply.com/
 
garden master
Posts: 1713
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
125
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not an expert, but I run bio diesel in my truck.  A friend of mine processes it on the good sized scale for his silviculture company.  Way up here in the North, in the winter, we have to run regular petroleum diesel, as the bio or WVO gels up.  Just something to consider if your are traveling to cold places. 

Bio is a lot more refined, so on the upside, it burns cleaner, and will clean your engine as it goes.  But with it you need a lot more of an initial processor and you have waste products, although as mentioned their is potential to utilize these products.  I have another friend with a land rover with the WVO system complete on his vehicle, so he can pull up to any restaurant (Chinese, Burger joint... whatever as long as it's got friers), and pumps up into a filter, and it is filtered several times before it hits the engine, but he does all the filtering/processing while he drives.  He regularly goes from the West Coast of Canada to Ottawa.  He says he'd never go with bio diesel as it's unnecessarily complicated. 

I go with bio diesel because my good buddy produces it and the truck I bought was part of his Silvi fleet and runs great on the stuff.  I'd rather pay him then any petroleum company, and he's a bit cheaper too.    
 
The government thinks you are too stupid to make your own lightbulb choices. But this tiny ad thinks you are smart:
The $50 and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23442/digital-market/digital-market/Underground-House-Book-Mike-Oehler
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!