Biodiesel Conversion Simplified

November 7, 2013

A much cheaper alternative to buying a hybrid, electric, or other fuel efficient car is to buy a used diesel car for a biodiesel conversion project.

Biodiesel Fueling

If you have had enough of rising gas prices, and stopping to fill up for what seems like ever increasing rates, look at a biodiesel conversion as an alternative. Biodiesel is much the same a regular diesel vehicle, but it uses less of the petroleum based diesel and relies on a mixture of bio materials. This comes from plant oil or animal oil. Since the first introduction of a biodiesel vehicle in 2005, it has become more and more popular each year and people look for alternative fuels.

See the Best Diesel Cars for 2013 >>

What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a fuel produced from vegetable oils or animal fats instead of reserves of fossil fuels. It is a clean burning fuel and consists of a chain of methyl, propyl and ethyl esters. It is produced by a process called transesterification. Blends of biodiesel operate in regular diesel engines just like petroleum based diesel fuel.

Learn more about Biodiesel Technology >>

The unprecedented fuel price rise has made the prospect of biodiesel economically attractive. Moreover, the environmental benefits of the biodiesel are making it a very viable alternative to petroleum based diesel fuel. Considering the present availability of the vegetable oils, it is enough to meet the edible oil requirements and provide surplus for biodiesel production.

No Changes Necessary
One of the big conveniences that come with a regular diesel engine is that they can run on the biodiesel fuel without any changes. Most new diesel cars are built so that they can work with up to a certain biodiesel rating. For instance, many Honda diesel engines will work with a B5 biodiesel. Volkswagen is one of the only manufacturers right now that will allow their customers to use biodiesel fuels without voiding their warranty. Some diesel vehicles do require a more sophisticated fuel filter to handle any contaminants that may be present in biodiesel recycled from food services.

Biodiesel Numbers
Any diesel car is already a biodiesel car. There are no expensive conversion kits to buy, or engine overhauls. The only difference is the type of fuel it will be using. The term biodiesel actually applies to the mixture of fuel it uses. Mostly this is an 80 percent to 20 percent split between regular petroleum based diesel and organic oil. This mixture is determined by the number associated with the fuel. For example, a B20 is the 80/20 mixture. Most engines available handle up to a B5 mixture of biodiesel fuel. It has been stated by the U.S. Department of Energy that biodiesel could replace as much as 10 percent of the nation's fuel supply within the next few years.

Biodiesel Savings
One of the biggest questions asked about biodiesel cars is whether or not they get better gas mileage. While the real value of biodiesel is not found in how much mileage it gets, there is a tremendous gas mileage savings over traditional unleaded gasoline engines. When compared to a gas engine, a biodiesel engine will save the driver up to $2,000 a year. The true savings is in what the biodiesel does for the atmosphere. It has been shown that there are up to 78 percent less emissions from a car running biodiesel than a traditional gasoline engine.

Real Costs
It is estimated that making biodiesel is a great investment as it will typically cost about 70 cents per gallon to make. This means that if you are currently paying $2.50 per gallon for regular gas, the savings are $1.80 per gallon of biodiesel that you make. These are real savings that go back into your pocket. Once the initial set up products are paid for, this $1.80 goes right back into your pocket. There are many different restaurants and fast food places that would gladly give you their left over grease and oils. This will save them the cost of getting rid of it. Once you have the oils, processing is a simple matter.

Sustainability
A lot of people want to know if these vegetable oil cars will actually be reliable over the long haul. They do not have to worry. The biodiesel has a high cetane content that makes the oil very clean and highly lubricant. The engine is kept cleaner and there is less friction build up over a long period of time. Instead of gunky gels and oils, biodiesel does not leave any residue. Because of this, there are fewer costly repairs due to malfunction and breakdown.

The Advantages of Biofuels over Fossil Fuels >>

Buying a Biodiesel Car
If you want to start driving around in a biodiesel vehicle you will have to simply buy a diesel vehicle. There are some manufacturers that have developed cars that will take a B5 blend (Jeep Liberty is one of them).

Talk It Over with the Dealer
One of the best places to get information on what is being offered in your area as far as biodiesel cars is your local dealer. They know what the manufacturers plan to do, as well as the availability of biodiesel fuel.

Look at Reviews
There are plenty of online review sites that cater to the new generation of vehicles that support biodiesel fuel. Search for these in your webs browser and visit them. Join the conversations and ask questions about any pros and cons of biodiesel conversion. You will see that many people are quite satisfied with this new breed and will gladly state their opinion.

Make at Home
Biodiesel is still fairly new, and is being used in a blend with petrodiesel. The need for a specialized biodiesel engine has been pressing initiative in innovation. The biodiesel kits in the market allow you to make your own biodiesel for your own use. Using biodiesel kits is simple and uses everyday products like water, vegetable oil and methanol.

Cleaner Fuel
As biodiesel is clean burning fuel, it is cleaner than petroleum derived diesel oil as it leaves fewer hydrocarbons, some of which are known carcinogens. Biodiesel has been found to be environmentally friendly as it emits less carbon dioxide, sulfides and aromatics. It gives out less toxic fumes on burning. As said earlier, biodiesel emits 78 percent fewer noxious substances than regular diesel.

Engine Performance
Biodiesel affects the engine differently. Due to high water content, it is known to create problems like a lack of power in the engine. It also performs poorly in cold conditions, forming a waxy paste which reduces lubrication and blocks filters.

Fuel Efficiency
Fuel efficiency for biodiesel has been found to be 11 percent less than that of normal diesel. You can opt for either pure biodiesel for your car, or you can opt for a blend with petroleum diesel. With a B2 (2 percent blend), you can significantly reduce emissions without much of an impact on mileage. Biodiesel also has a lower flashpoint than diesel, which means it requires less energy to ignite.

Learn more about Biodiesel Gas Mileage >>

What is the Best SUV to Buy for Biodiesel Conversion?
SUVs are common recipients of biodiesel conversion, as it helps to create low fuel emission vehicles, and SUVs are typically high emission cars. The process of biodiesel conversion is not the same as that of a hybrid SUV, although hybrids do have much lower emission ratings than standard SUVs as well.

As with other types of vehicles, there are certain SUVs that are more receptive to a conversion to biodiesel. Some types of cars are easier to modify or better able to run on biodiesel after the conversion process is complete, or both.

The SUV Must be Diesel Powered
In order for an SUV to be convertible to biodiesel fuel sources, it must initially run on diesel fuel. Biodiesel serves as a substitute for diesel fuel only, not for other mixtures or grades of gasoline. If you attempt to convert a standard gasoline vehicle to biodiesel, you'll have to first replace the entire motor with one that operates on diesel. This is not an economical procedure, and most people wish to convert to biodiesel for either economical or environmental reasons, or both.

Ideal Vehicles for Conversion
Because a number of different SUVs are powered by diesel fuel and are therefore compatible with biodiesel conversion, the ideal SUV for your situation depends upon the size and price range that you're considering. Be aware that there are very few diesel-powered American-made SUVs, so if you're intent on purchasing a locally-produced car, your options will be limited. However, if you're willing to purchase foreign vehicles as well, read on.

On the high end of the market, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all manufacture a number of luxury SUVs suitable for biodiesel conversion. The best of these vehicles are usually the compact models, as they often have motors and systems designed for special low-emissions or low-sulfur diesel fuel anyway, making them easier to convert to biodiesel.

The Volkswagen Golf and Jetta are two small vehicles that are in the middle to lower end of the price range. These vehicles are also suitable for conversion to biodiesel fuel power, as they both operate standard on diesel fuel already.

As far as American-made vehicles are concerned, the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra and the Ford Super Duty are diesel powered and are available for purchase in the States. These are perhaps the best choices to convert to biodiesel power, as they offer excellent options and specifications without the price tag of a luxury SUV. Ultimately, there is no single SUV or other vehicle that is far and away the best for conversion to biodiesel. The ideal vehicle for you depends upon your needs and your plans for that vehicle.

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