Homemade Biodiesel Works As Well As Conventional

John Davis

EECLResearchers at Colorado State University (CSU) have found that a homemade mix of unleaded gasoline and crushed oilseeds works about as well as diesel or biodiesel produced by more conventional means. This article on the Lab Manager website says the mix was tested by farmers who operate an oilseed processing facility and CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory in Fort Collins.

“There was an 8 to 10 percent drop in maximum power,” said Aaron Drenth, a CSU doctoral student who led the most recent testing of the homemade fuel. “That’s not very much — most drivers would never notice it. It’s also consistent with what the farmers who use it have been telling us.”

Drenth and Daniel B. Olsen, a professor of mechanical engineering at CSU, have spent the past two years testing different versions of the homemade fuel, called TGBs (triglyceride blends), and comparing the performance to biodiesel, renewable petroleum diesel, and traditional diesel fuels.

They swapped out oils made from sunflower, corn, canola, soybean, pennycress, camelina and carinata seeds to make different TGBs…

In addition to performance, Drenth and Olsen also evaluated the TGBs’s emissions, fuel consumption and thermal efficiency. TGBs were comparable to biodiesel, renewable diesel, and diesel in each of those areas; in some cases, they outperformed one of the conventional fuels.

For example, the engine got better “mileage” with TGB than biodiesel.

“We were surprised at how well TGBs did overall,” Olsen said.

The researchers did say that people should not necessarily start making their own fuel, because more study is needed on long-term effects on engines and potential safety concerns.