[permaculture] Straight Veggie Oil w/o conversion?

Harmon Seaver hseaver at gmail.com
Tue Mar 11 17:03:20 EDT 2008

Brooks Miller wrote:
> "Plus, burning SVO in your diesel gives much, much worse air pollution than
> running regular fossil diesel. Biodiesel is cleaner burning than fossil
> diesel, but SVO is extremely polluting."
> Could you please quantify and cite this statement?  It's rather counter to
> anything I've read in extensive research (and practice) with biofuels.

There are any number of studies to support that, here's one:


   If you google "SVO emissions" you'll find many more. However, what
you also will find is that there is a lot of variation in how the
conversion was done and who did it, and to what diesel engine. How hot
the oil is kept, even what brand injection pump and injectors -- all can
make a difference. But generally, yes, SVO puts a lot more pollution out
the exhaust pipe than fossil diesel, and biodiesel is a lot cleaner
burning than either.
   Now there is a newer conversion technology which looks like it solves
that problem.
   But if it's just the older conversion of simply heating the oil and
starting and stopping on diesel/biodiesel, then yes, I think the
research shows pretty clearly that burning SVO is pretty dirty. No
sulfur, but plenty of PM and unburnt hydrocarbons, and also a lot of
phosphorus. And then there's the acrolein....
   And to add to the confusion, it also looks like "how" the oil was
extracted even makes a difference.

   You should also do some searches on acrolein -- a very nasty
carcinogen formed from burning veggie oil.

> We all know biofuels are not the answer for the long term. 

  I not only don't "know" that, I most strongly disagree. We can easily
grow enough ethanol feedstock sustainably without using farmland for
food crops. Read David Blume's book, "Alcohol Can Be A Gas", a big share
of the book is about permaculture and how in a ethanol/permaculture
setup, the fuel is only one part of the production of the farm, the by
products are just as, or maybe even more, important than the fuel.
   That's where the whole "food vs fuel" being BS'd about in the media
is so incredibly stupid. Even with grain for ethanol -- a dumb idea --
you don't lose any food, in fact you gain a higher quality food in the
form of the spent mash.
   But forget growing fuel on croplands -- most of the fuel can be
produced just from using cattails to clean all the sewage. And for areas
that have little water, grow buffalo-gourd, you get as much veggie oil
per acre as you do from sunflower seeds (about 100 gallons), but you
also get 750 gallons of ethanol per acre from the roots.

Harmon Seaver

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