Gasoline and Vegetable Oil Blends

February 19, 2008

I’ve had a few phone calls from Alaska folks really really wanting a cheap and easy solution to running vegetable oil. Most recently was a plan to run 90% raw Canola oil, straight from the farmer’s press, which would be “treated” with 10% gasoline.

Here’s the response I wrote:

Hmmm. It’s my belief that if it were cheap and easy everyone would be doing it. My first thoughts are “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” and “You get what you pay for.”

Blending straight vegetable oil with gasoline (or diesel) and burning it directly in your diesel vehicle should be considered *very* experimental. Of course biodiesel folks often get nervous about running heated SVO, and the 2-tank heated veg folks can get skittish about running those unheated vegoil blends.

The closest I’ve gotten to blending is the time that I left my vegoil in the injection pump overnight (I forgot to purge). I did get the 81 VW pickup started at about 40 degrees – and it didn’t cause any noticeable harm to the system – but it kicked and bucked quite a bit while thick black smoke poured out until it warmed up. I try to avoid running cold oil in a cold engine.

I do know of one guy who runs unheated 100% SVO in a early 80s VW pickup down in Moose Pass (or was it Cooper Landing?). He told me he just ran it in the summer months, and it worked well for him.

For the internet fanatics, “Diesel Secret Energy” is the most famous of the blending “miracles.” They add their secret formula (mostly petroleum aromatics similar to paint thinner), some gas and some diesel, whip it up and call it good. The only person I know of in Alaska that bought the stuff, decided after he mixed it up that he wasn’t about to put it into his tank.

Blending, however, does happen successfully. Probably the most economically significant Alaskan example is the big WWII era generators out in Dutch Harbor at the Unisea fish plant. There they blend in fish oil, in a 50-50 ratio. Of course those are old, tolerant engines.

As far as passenger vehicles go, all the studies I’ve read say that unheated vegoil in an unheated engine will cause bad things: ring/cylinder varnishing, injector coking. The older 1980s studies say this happens more with blends above 20% vegetable oil.

If you’re planning on running unheated SVO or an unheated blend in an older, more tolerant engine, you just might get away with it. Be sure to test your crankcase oil, or at least change it often, as vegetable oil will polymerize and thicken your motor oil.

Needless to say, I do not recommend running unheated blends. But if you insist, tell us how it goes!

Veg On!

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6 Responses to “Gasoline and Vegetable Oil Blends”

  1. Roderick E. Gouin Says:

    REMARKABLY, IVE ADDED 32 OZ OF svo TO 10 GALLONS OF REGULAR GASOLINE. HERE IS THE PART THATS HARD TO BELIEVE! I RAN THIS MIX IN MY DODGE STRAIGHT SIX CYL GASOLINE ENGINE WITH NO ADVERSE AFFECTS AT ALL! AT THE TIME I HAD LITTLE GAS MONEY AND AN EXCESS OF VEG OIL AT MY DISPOSAL. ODDLY IT WORKED FINE! I EXPECT YOU COULD EXPERIMENT WITH A GAS ENGINE AT YOUR DISPOSAL IN CASE YOUR LEARY OF SUCH AN ODD MIXTURE. AGAIN I SAW NO PERFORMANCE DEGREDATION. IM NOT CRAZY, BUT IT WAS NECESSARY AT THE TIME. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR OWN MIXTURE.

  2. kenneth Meggers Says:

    Does cooking oil work in a gasoline car, Do you get better mileage when you add cooking oil to gasoline car

  3. Dana Shields Says:

    My mechanic here in Lansing, MI, first told me about mixing around 20% gasoline with cold WVO. He has an old 300D he’s done it on for years.

    I’ve got a two tank heated system, and had become interested in how I might increase my driving range. The mix in the main tank sounded like the perfect solution.

    HOWEVER…it does cause the stock filter to clog up sooner than it would otherwise on diesel. I also added a 14 PSI pusher pump because of the ensuing air leaks (that lift pump can suck a golf ball through a garden hose…and, unfortunately, air, too).

    But I’ve become reasonably comfortable with burning it this way in the summer months. I do, however, make sure I change my motor oil every couple months.

  4. Milan Says:

    I have just not long started useing WVO.
    I am running it in a International 2600 Tipper, motor is 1986 Cummins L10,250HP mechanicle DI. Have 2 tanks start on diesel and flip over when engine is at operating temp. I run a blend at approx 30% diesel and 70% WVO, with bitron cetane booster the blend passes through a 50 plate heat exchanger gives me 140 – 160 degrees F. This engine runs better with a blend as to straight WVO. In the tropics here 33 deg C summer and 24 deg C winter.

  5. Colorado Says:

    You all should check out what is going on in Kansas with the work of Dan McAmoil, and now some farmers in Colorado are doing this same work. As to the point about “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it,” the fact is that it’s not easy. Of course, mixing it up is the easiest thing in the world, but growing the oilseed, crushing it, cleaning it, etc … can take a lot of effort. I know guys that have spent over $100,000 on a crushing system that they finally have gotten to work. Some reasearchers at Colorado State University are now testing these blends at their Engines and Energy Conversation Laboratory.


  6. I have been running various blends of WVO and unleaded gasoline (RUG/Petrol) since Feb, 2007 on a 1983 Chevy 6.2L diesel with a Stanadyne Rotary DB2 IP. I have started the engine with no difficulty on an 80/20 (WVO/gas) mix down to 3F (-16c). I have found that by blending as little as 5% gasoline in the summer, and as much as 30% in the winter, the engine starts and runs as if it was running on diesel fuel.


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