Archive for March 2009

Requesting and collecting WVO …

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my WVO sources and am at various stages in the requesting and collecting process with several different sources.

I am now on a first name basis with kitchen staff at the “Tuesday morning” Canola oil source (day of my pickup, not the retail store) that my blending friend is sharing with me.  They pour their fryer oil into metal buckets and set them just inside the back door.  I simply pour those buckets into 5 gal paint buckets, but anticipate furnishing them with a Plant Drive funnel and stand so that we can pour the oil back into the original 35# containers.  Sometimes 1-2 metal buckets contain hamburger grease, so I drive those to their grease dumpster for them since it is about 4-5 city blocks from the kitchen.  I noticed that the container seems to contain a lot more grease than it did a few months ago, so I asked them if they changed the oil multiple times per week in case we were missing a pickup.  He confirmed that they were not right now, but that there is a chance they might start changing oil more frequently in the summer months.  There must be another kitchen at the facility.. sure wish I knew where the extra oil was coming from so that I could pickup before it lands in the rendering company’s container.

I am waiting for my new 55 gal drum lids to arrive so that I can furnish containers to two fast food restaurants.  Billy said that they shipped yesterday.  I know the person who owns the two sites, but need to get to know the managers and staff at each site.  I also need to firm up a company name and phone number that I can list on the containers.  These sites will output a mix of Soybean oil (SO) and Hydrogenated Soybean oil (HSO) that also contains some shortening and TBHQ.  Plenty of people advise against the use of any Hydrogenated oil in your SVO/WVO setup.  Several sites (ie: PlantDrive FAQ) advise against the use of Soybean oil because of it’s high Iodine values and high free fatty acid (FFA) values.  I will probably have to trade all of this oil for credit toward B99 at the local biodiesel plant.  I’ll just mix the B99 with my Canola WVO.  I’ll try this for a month or so and see how the numbers work out.  I’m hoping the biodiesel plant will exchange their 70 gal/wk of WVO (~$0.75/gal?) into 20+ gal/wk of B99 ($2.20/gal).  Even if I am not able to use raw Soy Oil, the B99 should be safe and this type of volume will meet nearly all of my week-to-week fuel needs with just a few hours of work each week.

I’ve approached a local kitchen that I already visit weekly or more for community service/club meetings.  I already know the manager and a hand full of staff on a first name basis.  Their menu mentions something about using healthy vegetable oil.  I started by checking the oil quality in their dumpster (dark liquid), then left a letter for the manager (based on this Clean Grease post), then followed up with the manager in person at a community event a few days later (this was planned/expected), then received call from his boss (owner?) who said they were getting paid for oil so I offered to provide a quote if I could pickup a sample.  I picked up a sample yesterday.  The original 35# container lists ingredients as Soybean Oil with TBHQ.  Well, crap!  They would only produce about 70# (15 gal) per week, so this is probably not going to be worth quoting $0.25/gal to $0.50/gal if I only end up receiving $0.75/gal credit from the biodiesel plant.

I’ve been introduced to another local kitchen that might have Canola oil.  The manager seemed receptive to the idea of having me pickup their oil, but I could tell that she would want me to quote a price per pound or per gallon that I would be willing to pay them.  I need to send the manager an email with some information, but am trying to firm up a few particulars (ie: company name, road tax registration, 1-2 most important questions for them .. oil ingredients? oil volume?) and produce a few staged action photos (ie: picture of me refilling 35# container with funnel and stand, picture of outdoor containers at the two restaurants I described above, picture of me pouring filtered WVO from original 35# oil containers into my truck) before I make contact again.  It seems that about the only way I could justify paying $0.07/lb or $0.50/gal for any WVO would be if they were using pure Canola oil and were willing to pour their waste oil back into the original containers to avoid contamination (water, etc).

My goal is to establish 2-3 sources that generate a total of about 45 gal per week, even though I am only consuming an average of 25 gal per week.  I could store the reserves in my 275-gal poly so that I don’t run dry even when I take my occasional long trips (500-2000 mile round trip).

My first UOA results (258k, 260k), found a small centrifuge …

Dropped both of my first oil samples in the mail about a week ago.  Received an email with my first two Used Oil Analysis (UOA) results from Blackstone Labs (  The first UOA reflects 3400 miles on diesel #2 only and was very positive.  The second UOA reflects 5200 miles on diesel #2 and an occasional switch to a 50/50 mix of diesel #2 and WVO (canola) and was also very positive.  The wear on my F-250 7.3L PSD seems to be below average and the TBN values on my oil seem to be holding up very well.  The labs suggested stretching to 7500 miles, but I changed my oil immediately after the 5400 mile sample.

After my last sample and oil change, I continued to gradually increase % WVO in my heated tanks. 50/50, then 40/60, then 25/75, now 10/90.  Very unlikely that I will be able to extend usage much past 3000 miles now that I’m running on 10/90 mix of diesel #2 and WVO (canola).  Now that I am using a high % WVO in my heated tanks, I plan to send samples again at 3400 miles and 5200 miles so we can compare apples to apples.

UOA @ 258740

UOA @ 260496

Also, I picked up a nice compact 5400rpm bench centrifuge with 15mL tubes from Patricia on Craig’s List for $35 tonight.  Hoping to use it to check oil samples for water and particles.  She was very interested when I told her how I planned to use the centrifuge and she thought it would work perfectly.  She had previously used the centrifuge to test waste water samples while providing consulting to treatment plants.  She asked about the possibility of consuming waste fuel from the grease traps at restaurants.  I explained that I was simply using fryer oil.  Interestingly enough, I just read about the concept of extracting fuel from grease traps at Black Gold Bio Fuels website ( in the past few days.  Clean grease traps, deliver to processing site, extract fuel (usually 3% of volume), send other 97% to waste-water treatment plant.  Good conversation.

WVO collection logistics …

Met with my friend who owns several local restaurants and am planning to begin pickup of fryer oil from two nearby locations.  Will provide a 55-gal drum with special lid at each location and will have to empty the containers each week, since I am anticipating each site will generate approx 35-gal each week.

Planning to pickup drums on Wed 03/25.  Ordering 3 locking drum lids.  Also ordering a pair of 100 micron drum filters so I can determine if something like this may help with the collecting and/or filtering process.

20090323-wvo-collection-drum-1 20090323-wvo-collection-drum-2

Also ordered 3 of the PlantDrive funnels with stands so that smaller sites can simply refill their original fryer oil cubes.


First “long distance” WVO trip …

Ran the truck on a 90/10 mix of heated WVO and Diesel #2 for a majority of a 600 mile round-trip family visit this weekend.  Things seem to be working very well.  I only have three concerns:

Fuel Efficiency – I’m suspecting a slightly lower MPG on WVO than on Diesel #2.  I won’t be able to confirm until I buy a flow-meter for use when filling the truck with WVO or until I establish enough long-term ballpark figures to look at averages.

Fuel Leak – I’m suspecting a WVO fuel leak.  I’ve noticed large light-colored puddles when I pull out of several driveways now, but haven’t been able to determine the source.  On a side note, the dealership replaced my ICP sensor and CAC hoses to resolve my motor oil leak when I had the truck in for a 5K oil change on 03/18.  I’ve considered that this could be an even worse motor oil leak than before, and that the motor oil is very light in color because it was recently changed, but doubt the motor oil would be that light unless they used different oil this time.

Performance Concerns – Could just be me, but it seems like the truck is running rough when accelerating through specific speeds somewhere between 35 and 55 MPH.  I haven’t nailed down more specifics yet, just feel like something doesn’t seem right.

UPDATE:  03/25/2009

I’m still worried about performance concerns, but am starting to think this is either in my head or only occurs while running on WVO.  I’ve run on Diesel #2 several times and don’t seem to experience the problem.  I’m wondering if this has to do with a cylinder compression issue or maybe injector timing (ie: cetane related).  I’d like to begin running compression tests on each cylinder every 5K so that I can monitor degredation (if any) over time.  Harbor Freight has a compression testing kit for $25, but not sure if it would be able to test a 7.3L PSD.  I’d also like to invest in some PC-based diag and tuning software so that I can spot problems and possibly even fine tune injection timing for WVO.  I’m also considering mixing WVO (low cetane value) with B100 (high cetane value) so that it burns similar to ULSD.

Approximate Cetane levels for Diesel, WVO, and B100 (from Journey to Forever):

  • Diesel 45
  • Canola Oil 40-50
  • BioDiesel 45-65

I suspect that the stuttering that I feel at different points during acceleration is related to a low Cetane level in my WVO.  It sounds like performance can suffer with extremely low Cetane levels (below 40), and performance plateaus once you hit about 50.

Paying Road-Tax and Use-Tax for WVO in Kansas …

I am trying to figure out how to pay necessary road-tax and use-tax for WVO as a Kansas resident.  I’ve been tracking consumption so that I can begin reporting this.  It sounds like Federal taxes will be 24.4c/gal and State taxes will be 26.0c/gal. My consumption for approx 19 gallons in 02/2009 would cost $9.58, but I can’t send in a payment until I complete several applications.

Federal – It seems I need to complete IRS Form 637 (Application for Registration for Certain Excise Tax Activities) with activities “AL” and “AM” first.  Once approved, I would complete IRS Form 720 (Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return) and submit the form with payment shortly after the end of each quarter.

State of Kansas – I assume I need to register with the state before I can pay use tax, but I haven’t determined how to do this yet.  Once registered, I would complete Kansas Form MF-54 (Producer/Manufacturer, Blender, End Consumer Motor Fuel Tax Report) and submit the form with payment shortly after the end of each month.

Several online discussions lead me to believe I can qualify for the IRS 50c/gal to $1/gal credit for the sale of SVO as a bio-fuel.  My understanding is that this must be performed by a company, not an individual.  I’m working to establish a company that can handle collection, record keeping and filtering of all the WVO for several of us who are needing WVO.  We would probably need to buy WVO from the company at some minimal per gallon rate.  The train of thought is that the credits should cancel out the road tax and keep everything on the up and up.  I’m expecting a lot of local public exposure and need to have this issue under control.  Will post updates as I make progress on this.  Will continue to record consumption in the meantime so that I can settle up when I am allowed to begin making payments.