Vegetable oil myths
“The diesel engine was designed to run on vegetable oil”
“The first diesel engine ran on vegetable oil”
“Diesel designed the Diesel engine to run on vegetable oil”
Diesel designed engines based on Carnot’s heat cycle, Otto, Daimler, Clerk, Benz, Mayback and Deutz had already built functioning diesel engines long before Diesel published his designs. In fact Diesel was denied a patent in Europe because his ideas were “not original”, later he was granted a patent in the US. Diesels first engine was designed to burn coal dust and only in the last years of his life did he attempt to promote the use of plant oils as fuels in tropical regions. In fact I know of no account of Diesel ever having run a single engine on vegetable oil of any type.
At the Paris exhibition in 1900 a small diesel engine built by the Otto company ran on peanut oil, few at the exhibition were aware of this as it had been arranged at the request of the French government, their idea was that if these engines could successfully be run on nut oils then they could be used in Frances colonies in Africa and South America to simplify agriculture and lower their reliance on local workers, while avoiding fuel supply chain issues associated with remote locations.
During WWII Brazil and Argentina both used vegetable oil as a substitute for fuel they could no longer get, China made gasoline and kerosene from vegetable oil, India was using vegetable oil as diesel fuel and the Japanese battleship Yamato used refined soy oil as fuel.