April 12, 2005
Car Hacks: Modify your car to drive on vegetable oil

At the Vermont Law School Solutions Conference, my brother Mark not only helped to organize a panel, he presented a live real-time demonstration, modifying his car to run on vegetable oil.

As part of the C.A.R.S (Carbon Assessment and Reduction Strategies) project, Mark Seltzer, '05 Masters Student will be modifying his Volkswagen Turbo Diesel to run on renewable vegetable oil. The project consists of installing a heated fuel tank and fuel lines. Once the modifications are complete, the car starts on standard diesel fuel but can be switched over to vegetable (standard fryer oil) once the engine has warmed up. Low emissions and a renewable fuel!

Armed with the Treo, I served as unofficial photographer. Check out Mark's webpage or the Flickr set. Though I had to leave before the end, Mark reports that the conversion was a success, and he can now drive on french fry grease. And I thought demoing a HD-MythTV was tough. Congrats Mark!

Posted by Wendy at April 12, 2005 06:37 AM | TrackBack

appreciate their effort but its not quite new. the technology to run diesels on veg oil has been around almost since the diesel engine itself was invetned....

Posted by: Pritam Shetty on April 13, 2005 11:47 PM


Posted by: Pritam Shetty on April 13, 2005 11:48 PM

actually, diesel engines were initially conceived to be running on vegetable oil, since they couldn't have diesel fuel before they had diesel engines, could they? the diesel fuel was a subsequent refinement to make fuel for these engines cheaper.

still today, all diesel engines would run happily on vegetable oil, if it were not for the fact that the modern (post-90's) injection and warm-up systems would possibly clutter with vegetable oil (that's why your friend is moving to vegetable only after the warm-up phase).

in italy, lots of newspapers have raised the issue, as plenty of people have started buying low cost vegetable oil (which costs sensibly less than diesel fuel, due to the lack of specific taxes; production cost of fuel is lower, but vegetable oil isn't taxed as fuel) and mixing it with actual fuel into their cars - it works fine as long as the percentage is not too big to create problems at startup.

however, the government is strongly repressing this, since, even if it would be more environmentally-friendly, it would amount to a significant tax loss (and is thus illegal). (i don't know about the legal framework for fuels in the us.)

Posted by: vbertola on April 15, 2005 04:13 AM

Right on.. Diesels can run on Veg or many other oils. Just the oils get very viscous at coldish temperatures. As a result the entire installation
in the pictures is installing a heated tank to allow the veg to be hot when it runs through the system.

Once done driving I send diesel fuel back through the veg lines so veg does not clog or gel in the lines.

Hope this helps


Posted by: Mark on April 17, 2005 11:57 AM

I am currently converting my diesel Landcruiser Ute (pickup) to run on straight vegetable oil.
It's early days yet, but I am making a blog of the adventure.
I would appreciate comments on my project from any knowledgable creatures out there!

Posted by: Jo on May 16, 2005 10:23 PM
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