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#137847 - 06/26/08 08:56 PM Running diesel generator on used cooking oil?
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I was just wondering if anyone has ever actually tried using filtered, used cooking oil (straight cooking oil, not biodiesel) in their diesel generator? I hear it can be done, but I'm curious about hearing the experience of anyone who has actually done it. I suspect everything is pretty much the same except that the air smells like whatever was cooking in the oil.

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#137848 - 06/26/08 09:07 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: Arney]
Hacksaw
Unregistered


Almost any diesel will run on filtered cooking oil but you have to get the engine temp. up with regular gas or biodiesel first.

You can buy kits which have two fuel tanks and electrically powered valves that switch to the oil once the engine temp is up.

Note I've never done it but know people who have experimented with it.

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#137861 - 06/26/08 11:29 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: ]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2580
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I imagine this as an experiment with a VW Rabbit diesel after the doors fall off. I suspect the particulate output and general fouling with soot would be rather nasty.

The engine would certainly have to be hot. And ideally, the oil should be preheated to thin it out. Don't try it in a cold climate; even after conversion, biodiesel gels rather easily.

And would the injectors clog running fast food fat (like arteries, perhaps)?

Horsepower falloff? Perhaps. Might be more suitable for a stationary generator than a car on the highway.

In a survival situation, at least in the longer term, calories will trump fuel. Feed it to the creatures that feed you.

Last thought: used cooking oil from fast food joints is now worth a substantial amount of cash. It's not waste any more. So it's best to have a legit source (i.e., ask permission).

If anyone tries this, make sure to post the results!

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#137866 - 06/26/08 11:53 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: dougwalkabout]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
For these converted diesel vehicles with the dual tanks--do they have to switch back to diesel before shutting off their engines? I'm just wondering, if you turned off your engine while it was running cooking oil, and it was cold, it would seem that the oil would really gum up the engine when it eventually gels.

But back to the generator, I don't see any convenient way to switch between diesel and cooking oil except for warming it up on diesel and then adding the cooking oil to the tank. And then what? Adding diesel back again when you're getting near to shutting it down? That sounds like a pain, and when you shut off your generator is not always something you can plan ahead for.

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#137886 - 06/27/08 04:45 AM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: Arney]
Stokie Offline
Member

Registered: 02/05/04
Posts: 175
Loc: Paris, France
Does all cooking oil, solidify, doesn't vegetable oil remain liquid even at room temperature?

The only reason I ask was that one of our technicians scrounged a few litres of the stuff from our canteen, the used stuff of course, filtered it and poured it straight into his tank. I think the ratio was 1:15 or 1:20 I can't remember exactly and the guy's moved on now so I can't ask.

What was noted was a huge cloud of black smoke, I mean most diesels give off smoke, but you could always tell this one because he very nearly had to keep his lights on all the time the cloud was so thick. Strangely enough the smell wasn't as strong, as it would be if it were just of diesel.

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#137901 - 06/27/08 12:45 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: Stokie]
Dan_McI Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 844
Loc: NYC
My irrepressible curiousity drove me to read some about this topic. This was one of the best sites on trying to do it: http://www.me.columbia.edu/me3410/spring06/group01/

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#137932 - 06/27/08 04:13 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: Dan_McI]
JohnE Offline
Addict

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
I haven't run a generator on used oil but I have a car that runs on it and will shortly have another one once it gets some other work done to it.

There is a lot of misinformation as well as truthful information available about doing this sort of thing.

From people who are actually doing it to those who haven't even tried it claiming it won't work.

All I can tell you is this: my Mercedes diesel has been running on straight, filtered, used cooking oil for the better part of a year now, with an occasional gallon of diesel fuel when traveling or when my oil supply ran short. I don't have 2 tanks, I don't pretreat or preheat the oil other than running it thru my 2 barrel filtering system. While we've had a couple of issues with the car, none of them were traceable back to using the oil for fuel. The car puts out less noxious emissions using oil than it did using diesel fuel, that smoke you referred to was carbon being burnt off, a byproduct of using diesel fuel. There is evidence to suggest that using veggie oil is much cleaner than using diesel fuel. Most of the negative things you'll find are either produced by people who have never tried the process or who have another agenda.

There is a ton of information about these sorts of things on the internet, I'd suggest that you look up the biodiesel/svo webforums for a start, do a google search for them and then take what you learn, decide if you want to do the necessary work and make an informed decision.

I'll end with this, the inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel,designed it to be run on vegetable based oil.

John E
_________________________
JohnE

"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen


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#137942 - 06/27/08 06:05 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: JohnE]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2580
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Great post, JohnE. Where do you get your oil?

BTW, it's interesting to know you don't need any preheating or fuel switching in California. In colder climates, I'm not so sure. In a Canadian winter, for example, we have to switch to a winter formulation even for standard diesel; the summer stuff will gel up.

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#137946 - 06/27/08 06:23 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: Stokie]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Stokie
Does all cooking oil, solidify, doesn't vegetable oil remain liquid even at room temperature?

Doing a little reading last night, I get a little confused about the heating issue. At the moment, I get the impression straight vegetable oil (like, a brand new 5-gallon container you buy at the big box store) requires heating, while using used cooking oil (my original question) seems like it doesn't...but maybe I'm wrong on that.

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#137954 - 06/27/08 08:53 PM Re: Running diesel generator on used cooking oil? [Re: Arney]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: Arney
Originally Posted By: Stokie
Does all cooking oil, solidify, doesn't vegetable oil remain liquid even at room temperature?

Doing a little reading last night, I get a little confused about the heating issue. At the moment, I get the impression straight vegetable oil (like, a brand new 5-gallon container you buy at the big box store) requires heating, while using used cooking oil (my original question) seems like it doesn't...but maybe I'm wrong on that.


Not sure if this has anything to do with it, but used cooking oil contains far less water than "new" vegetable oil due to it being burned off in the cooking process.

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