|HOME||PRODUCTS||FORUM||RESOURCES||KIT COMPARISON||FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS|
What's the difference between straight vegetable oil (SVO) and biodiesel?
Vegetable oil has many fuel properties that make it an attractive substitute for diesel fuel, except for much higher viscosity. Both SVO conversions and biodiesel are attempts to lower the viscosity to an acceptable level for engines designed to burn petrodiesel. The biodiesel approach is to chemically react an alcohol, usually methanol, and vegetable oil to form fatty acid methyl esters (if methanol was used), glycerin is a byproduct of this reaction and has to be removed. Biodiesel has viscosity similar to petrodiesel.
The SVO conversion approach is to install components in the vehicle that will heat the vegetable oil and thereby reduce its viscosity to an acceptable level. See the System page for how we do it.
Biodiesel requires that the fuel is modified each time it is collected. SVO systems modify the vehicle so that the unmodified fuel can be used. The making of biodiesel requires that oil is collected and filtered, then heated, mixed in exacting proportions with lye and methanol (caustic and explosive substances) and that the resulting glycerin byproduct is disposed of. Failure to properly titrate the mixture will result in soap. SVO requires only that the oil is collected, filtered and dewatered.
Many diesel engines must be modified in order to use biodiesel without causing damage. The fuel lines may need to be changed to those tolerant of biodiesel, and some fuel injection systems have seals in the injection pump which must also be changed or damage will occur.
Can I convert any diesel vehicle?
We believe that if the oil is heated to 160°F, that any diesel vehicle can be converted. However, some applications have more complicated fuel systems and require more complicated conversion systems than others. We do not sell a kit for a vehicle unless we have converted it ourselves. See our products page for a list of vehicles we sell kits for.
Which vehicles are the best candidates for conversion?
What vehicle best fits your needs? The most popular kits to date are for the Mercedes 300 D/SD/SDL, the Chevrolet Suburban, and the 1994-1998 Dodges with 12 Valve 5.9 Cummins. Although your choice of vehicle must be based on what you intend to use the vehicle for, if you have 4 children then buying a pickup will likely not meet your needs as well as a Suburban, conversely if you need a vehicle for commuting a smaller vehicle would likely be a better choice.
How hard is it to install a kit?
Most Frybrid customers are not professional mechanics and install a kit themselves over the course of one to two weekends. There is a section on the forum devoted to "users conversions".
Will burning SVO damage my engine?
Based upon our testing and the research literature we believe that if the oil is heated to at least 160°F before injection into a combustion chamber that is at operating temperature, burning SVO will not cause long term damage to your engine. Other companies sell systems that do not meet these conditions and customers have seen coking of the injectors and rings, and contamination of the engine oil. While there are Frybrid customers with over 100,000 miles on SVO, there is a lack of peer-reviewed studies investigating the long term effects of burning SVO within a system a similar to Frybrid's, a system that only delivers adequately heated oil into a combustion chamber that is at operating temperature.
Will the Frybrid system work in a cold climate?
Yes. As long as your engine gets up to its standard operating temperature, the Frybrid system will work.
How does power and fuel economy compare?
Pure vegetable oil has about 90-95% of the heat energy, by volume compared to diesel. Everything else being equal this means that you will see a slight reduction in miles-per-gallon compared to diesel.
Electric heating and electric pumps can cause further loss of fuel economy, as these factors load the charging system. Thick, inadequately heated oil can reduce fuel economy by making electric pumps work harder to move a given volume, further taxing the charging system. The Frybrid system avoids most of these secondary sources of fuel economy reduction, since the entire fuel system is heated with engine coolant, with the exception of systems with Davco electrically heated filters.
Depending upon the fuel delivery system, there can be up to a ten percent reduction of power at wide open throttle at the top-end. This loss in power will only be noticeable as you near wide open throttle.
How do emissions compare?
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. What is clear is that Sulfur Oxides are reduced 100% and that burning SVO only releases the amount of Carbon that is absorbed from the atmosphere by the crop that produced the oil, in other words SVO is Carbon neutral. As far as other emissions, there simply has not been definitive research yet. In applicable studies, some show CO, CO2, NOx, and HC are higher, some show lower, some a mixture. It is my hypothesis that in a properly designed system, CO and CO2 should be about the same as petrodiesel, HC should be a bit less, and NOx a bit higher.
We are currently acquiring definitive emissions data.
Will this void my warranty?
It depends. Contact your dealer and ask. Some manufacturers will honor the warranty except if the dealer determines the damage was caused by an alternative fuel.
How long does it take to get a return on my investment?
It depends upon your miles-per-gallon, how much you drive, and the cost of diesel, but a year to a year and a half seems to be typical. Please look at our return on investment calculator.
Is it legal to use straight vegetable oil as fuel?
First, we are not lawyers, and cannot give legal advice. However, this is what appears to be the current legal status of the use of vegetable oil
Currently, it is legal to use SVO as a fuel if you are not on a public road, i.e. on a farm, private road, public lands. The EPA does not currently regulate off-road diesel emissions and off-road diesel fuel is not subject to road tax. In 2007, EPA regulations are being introduced that will regulate off-road emissions, and by extension fuel choice.
If you want to drive a vehicle fueled by straight vegetable oil on public roads there are state and federal laws to abide by.
Most states seem to be satisfied if you pay road tax and pass any mandatory emission tests. You can request forms from your state's department of revenue to calculate and submit road tax.
The Federal situation is less clear. First, the degree of modifications to the fuel system in a vegetable oil conversion constitutes prohibited after-market tampering, and the EPA has started to require some conversion companies to begin a process of certification of compliance that demonstrates that the modifications do not cause an increase in emissions compared to the baseline system and fuel. The certification process is expensive and must be done for every test family, which in earlier years matches engine families, but with newer cars may only be one model year. No kit in any vehicle has yet been certified and not all the companies in the field have been contacted.
Even if a conversion is certified, and your vehicle is legal, there's still the question of the fuel itself. The EPA regulations are clear that in order for a fuel to enter commerce it has to pass Tier I & II testing, a very expensive undertaking. However, it is not clear whether the EPA has jurisdiction on fuel that does not enter commerce. There is some reason to believe that the EPA may decide that they need not regulate fuel that has not been sold, or vegetable oil that has not been sold as fuel.
Where do I get my oil?
New food grade oil can be used, however most people prefer to collect and process waste oil from restaurants.
To use waste oil you should develop relationships with local restaurants. Currently most restaurants either have to pay to have a rendering company pick up their waste oil or they get paid pennies on the gallon. The restaurant may be happy to cancel their contract with the rendering company and put their oil in a container you supply.
Once the oil is in the rendering company's dumpster it belongs to the rendering company, and pumping from this dumpster is theft, even if the restaurant gives you permission. Theft of waste oil is a growing concern in the rendering industry. Removing waste oil from a dumpster belonging to a rendering company is stealing, it is illegal just as shoplifting is and will be treated as such by the police.
Waste oil MUST be filtered and dewatered before being put in the vehicles fuel tank, if anyone tells you that you can simply pump waste oil from a dumpster, through a filter and into your tank, they are either very ignorant or simply lying in order to sell you something. Simply pumping oil through a filter will damage the injectors, injection pump, fuel pump eventually. Doing so is a form of mechanical "Russian Roulette" and just as with "Russian Roulette" catastrophic failure will occur, it is not a matter if "IF", but of "When".
We strongly encourage the formation of vegetable oil co-ops to spread the time and expense of collecting and processing oil. Look at our Vegetabe CO-OP Guide for information about starting such a venture.
How well do I need to filter and dewater my oil?
Frybrid recommends you filter your oil to at least two microns and remove any water in the oil down to 500ppm (until a drop of oil on a hot plate of 350 degrees does not sputter and only forms small bubbles). We have free plans available on our website to make an effective filtration and dewatering set-up as well as information relating to proper testing of oil.
What kind of vegetable oil can I use?
Any kind of vegetable oil that you can collect, filter, dewater, and pump into your tank. The Frybrid system can handle hydrogenated oil and even animal fats, however you may find it difficult to collect and process these types of fat.
How is Frybrid different from other systems?
The Frybrid system is simply the most advanced and robust vegetable oil system available. We are at the cutting edge of the technology and intend to remain there. The main differences are how much more efficiently and completely we heat the oil before injection, our controller which automatically switches to VO when the coolant and combustion chamber are at appropriate temperature and which will not let you damage your engine by early switching and the quality of our components. All of our components are the highest quality in the field, and we have been the first to introduce many innovations like delayed return valve switching for quick purges, aluminum fuel line, automation, high quality valves. For full comparisons see our kit comparison page.
How does the Frybrid system work?
The Frybrid system is a two tank fuel system. The vehicle's original diesel fuel system functions just as it always has, once the vehicle is started the engine produces heat which is transferred form the engine by the coolant. The Frybrid system taps into the engines coolant using this waste heat to heat the vegetable oil to a temperature where it will combust with similar characteristics to diesel fuel. The temperature of the engines coolant is monitored by a microprocessor and when it detects that the system is capable of delivering fuel at an acceptable temperature it simply switches the fuel feeding to engine to the vegetable oil tank and without hesitation the engine begins to consume the vegetable oil rather than the diesel fuel. Before the vehicle is shut down the fuel system must be returned to diesel operation, this must be initiated by the driver by pressing a button, the microprocessor then deals with the switching of the valves and the purging of the fuel system insuring that the vehicle is safe to shut down.
What if you can't find vegetable oil?
The Frybrid system is a dual-fuel system; The existing diesel circuit is left in place. The engine is both started and shut down on diesel fuel and can operate using the diesel tank at any time. If you do not have vegetable oil available or are lending your vehicle to someone not familiar with the system, all you need to do is flip the override switch and the vehicle operates just as any other diesel vehicle.
Can I modify my existing diesel tank to be used as the vegetable oil tank?
While this is possible there are many reasons not to do so. The vehicles existing tank is DOT certified and tampering with it is illegal and will prevent some of the vehicles emission controls from working properly. The volume of the existing tank will be needed if the vehicle is to be operated as a diesel vehicle for any distance. The stock fuel tanks materials may not be suitable for use with vegetable oil, etc. Frybrid does not manufacture any kit designed to modify the existing fuel tank.
Can stored vegetable oil go bad?
Yes. Vegetable oil should be filtered to at least 5 microns (2 microns is preferred) and dewatered to 500ppm or less (checked using the crackle test). The oil should then be placed in a container with minimal air space in it and sealed. Oil to be stored for some time should be kept as cold as is easily possible, in a basement or cellar should be adequate, and protected from sunlight. If bacterial growth is present commercial biocides designed for diesel fuel should be used. If stored oil develops a smell like paint and/or has lightened in color (indicating a raise in peroxides) it is highly oxidized and should be discarded.
When the oil is to be used, it should be pumped from the storage container, through a filter and into the vehicle. Leave a small amount in the bottom of the container and never draw fuel from the bottom, this oil can be poured into the next batch of oil being prepared and reused.
All storage vessels should be thoroughly cleaned after filling and stored in a secure area to prevent the attraction of pests and the possible rupture of the storage containers by pests. The smell of VO will attract insects, rodents and large carnivores like Coyote or Bear. Keeping the stored oil containers and area clean is essential.
Can I purchase a Frybrid system without a tank?
Some of our systems are sold to be used with commercially available tanks or custom tanks. The Frybrid system is a system and each component serves a purpose, one of the most important is the in-tank heat exchanger. This single device which also forms the fuel pick-up and return lines, coupling points for the aluminum hose in hose fuel lines and a fuel reservoir to prevent fuel starvation when cornering. It is essential that this component fit into the fuel tank properly and sits on the tank bottom properly. Therefore we only offer systems for specific tanks commercially available or our tanks. Inquiries about custom made exchangers and tanks are welcome.
Can a Frybrid system be used with a gasoline engine?
No, this technology will only function on a compression ignition (Diesel) engine.
Will the Frybrid system allow a diesel engine to run on used motor oil, transmission fluid, transformer oil, etc.?
Many things are possible, they are not however all good ideas and due to the environmental concerns we at Frybrid have, we choose not to comment on these possibilities. There is a section of our forum which deals with the concept of fuel blending.
Is there a warranty on the system?
All components of Frybrid System, with the exception of fuel pumps and disposable or consumable items such as filters, carry a 4 year warranty against manufacturers' defects and will be replaced during that time free of charge. Some components such as fuel pumps, not warrantied by Frybrid LLC do carry a warranty from the OEM manufacturer.
Any part which is defective may be returned for a replacement part or refund (at the vendors' discretion). The part must be returned to Frybrid LLC where it will be evaluated, if the problem is found to be a manufacturing defect or failure resulting from normal use, the part will be replaced or refunded. If however the part is found to have failed from other than regular use, neglect, improper installation, or any other mechanism of failure not related to the parts manufacture, no replacement or refund shall be given. Frybrid LLC may at its discretion offer a replacement part.
No replacement parts will be supplied before the part assumed to be defective has been returned to Frybrid LLC for evaluation.