[permaculture] Used cooking oil vehicles? svo pollution?

Harmon Seaver hseaver at gmail.com
Wed Mar 12 23:39:29 EDT 2008

Brooks Miller wrote:
> ok, so i googled svo emissions...
> the first several sites talked about how svo's emissions were comparable to
> those of biodiesel, lower than dino diesel (petro).  the link you sent (an
> undergrad student project?) doesn't have any info on how the conversion was
> done, what temperature the oil was heated to, or how the measurements were
> taken.  i am very interested in any hard evidence we can find, but as far as
> i can tell i don't see any clear conclusions as you say.
   There quite a few tests on various vehicles, some -- especially the
VW TDI engines -- gave really bad emissions, like 76% more PM, 46% more
HC, 77% more CO, another gave 88% more PM  -- than petro diesel. PM --
particulate matter -- that black stuff you see coming out of diesel
exhausts. That's pretty nasty. And there's always a lot of acrolein,
which is a really nasty carcinogen.


> "Riding your bike is a far better solution.  That said it is indeed a
> reasonable transitional fuel and a good use of waste oil"

   Far better to make biodiesel out of it. I even bought a conversion
kit to run SVO in one of my diesels, but decided against using it after
finding out about all the drawbacks. Bad emissions, plus the danger to
the injection pump, injectors, and rings. I'm a long time diesel
enthusiast and mechanic, and the engines can last a really long time if
treated right. Running them on SVO is pretty risky.
   Make biodiesel out of it -- simple, easy to do, and costs next to
nothing if done right. Better yet, make ethanol, mix it with biodiesel,
and get even more power, better milage, and make your engine last up to
3 times longer.

> -Amen
> my point of biofuels not being the answer i think is valid.  a growth
> economy is not sustainable, so fueling it with biofuels is not any kind of
> answer. 

   I'm not in the least concerned about sustaining a growth economy. The
economy is tanking right now and probably will never recover in our
lifetimes. What I *am* concerned about is being able to fuel my own
vehicles and tractor, etc.

 there are hundreds of questions you could ask to evaluate
> sustainable biofuels production - is it a waste product, how much energy is
> used in its production, etc.  but i think the number one issue is our
> philosophy on transportation and how convenient it should be.
> in referring to alternative crops for ethanol production, i assume you're
> referring to small scale farmstead production?  

   It could be much larger than that. Growing cattails on sewage could
replace most of the gasoline we currently use in the US.

> the reason we use grain for
> ethanol on a large scale has nothing to do with efficiency, i think you'll
> agree (a dumb idea for sure), but with already-existing infrastructure and
> lobbying for corn.

   Well, actually it's because of all the grain subsidies the farmers
get paid to grow it. Maybe you don't remember back before ethanol came
on the scene -- back in the 50's and 60's they grew just as much corn
and soybeans, but just piled it up and let it rot. Literally! They
called it our "grain reserve" or some such nonsense.

>  for whom is distiller's mash a "higher quality food?"

   All the livestock that get fed the corn and soybeans. That's where
the vast majority of the grain goes, not to people. The problem is that
cows, for instance, were not evolved to eat large amounts of grain, so
they actually get very sick from it, can even die. But spent mash they
digest quite well, gaining more weight and gaining it faster and giving
more milk then when feed grain.
> as far as powering row crop production, you will be hard-pressed to defeat
> the biological efficiency of the horse, mule, or oxen team, which negates
> the need for ethanol or biodiesel as agricultural fuel.

   Yeah, horses are great -- too bad there are so few of them. It would
take decades to replace all the tractors with horses. But you still need
a lot of fuel for things like chainsaws, rototillers, generators.

Harmon Seaver

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