Monday, March 31, 2008

BioPete of Nashville

Came across this Blog through Google. Doesn't sound good, as he seems to be doing everything right but his TDI is having starting issues after 18000 miles since a conversion (13,ooo on WVO). I can not find the dates on his posts or what temp he is switching over.

18,000 mile entry

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Freedom Fuels & Fields of Fuel

The Yahoo Southern California WVO & SVO users group had a recent post concerning 2 recent BioFilms. Fields of Fuel was an audience award winner at this years Sundance Film Festival. Unfortunately it isn't yet available to view online or rent. It will screen on April 11th at the Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Another film mentioned was Freedom Fuels from 2006 by Mofilms. It is available online and is about 49 minutes long.

Freedom Fuels covers:

  • Alternative Fuels History
  • Biodiesel
  • Ethanol
Below is an excerpt about the WVO/SVO movement:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Very Slick VO Tank

The site (not the US site) has a slide show featuring one of their recent Jetta TDI conversions. The thing that caught my eye was a custom tank that the authorize installer made for the customer. I've seen a similar tank on another conversion but if I remember correctly that tank was made by the owner.

One of the main reasons I went with Plantdrive (other than their customer service) was their doughnut tank system. I didn't want to lose my trunk to a tank nor did I want to drive around without the spare tire.

The Doughnut tank has work out well but their are a few drawbacks:

  • Veggie is stored in the main tank - no problems yet but the tank wasn't designed for it.
  • No fuel level gauge - again not a big problem. When the car doesn't start on the first try I know it is time to fill up. I've never run out of diesel with the doughnut tank
  • In the winter it would be nice to have a larger dino tank since I don't switch often. I know with the way I drive that I simply should refill with diesel once a week.
  • 4.5 Gallon tank requires a low profile wheel. A 2 gallon option uses the stock temporary spare. Here are some notes on the 2. This is an additional expense.
As you can see from the picture on the right of my trunk, the tank replaces a foam cutout that normally holds the jack and lug wrench. It also would let me add a HotFox fuel pick up, thereby heating oil as early in it's travel as possible.

Hopefully is looking into the possibility of adding this item to their catalog

Monday, March 17, 2008

Single Tank filter / dewater

Currently I don't use very much oil and the oil I use is fairly clean - used only once. After completing my 2-tank filter system it occurred to me that I could probably have achieved the same thing with one tank. Instead of using the first tank as a storage / settling tank I would (and do) just use the cubees for this.

I came across a post by ecojetta on the BurnVeg forum showing his single tank system. I really like the clever filter sock holder made from plastic drain pipe - is it easy to pour in the oil at that height? He also increased the length of the heater tape to 80'. He dewaters for 8 hours and then uses a motor to circulate oil through a 5 micron goldenrod. Other than the energy expelled circulating the oil it seems like a good idea (does circulating the oil disturb the water that has settled out?) as it would catch more foreign matter. The flat/thinner silver insulation seems like a better way too.

Check it out. He has plenty of pictures and a diagram

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Alternator Pulley Failure & wvo = fix it yourself

(136,673 miles)
About 10 days or so ago my car started squeaking at idle. For a day or so it was minor but then got louder. My initial thought was that it might be the water pump since I bought the car used and didn't know too much about the history of the car. The original owner told be that the belt was changed at 80k as required and the more I thought about it he had no reason to mislead me.

Living in California with a TDI means taking the car to a Diesel Guru as most mechanics & stealerships aren't familiar with them - especially with regards to a timing belt (the water pump is connected via the timing belt and one usually does both at the same time since it's so labor intensive). Once I took time to listen to the squeak I first thought it might be the steering pump. In the end the altenator pulley came off which isn't unusual.

Since we were dealing with serpentine belt area, it was a straight forward repair that any mechanic could do. The concern that comes to mind is having a mechanic work on the car after it's been moded to run on WVO. Like most small cars the engine bay on the TDI is cramped, especially with a WVO kit installed. So chances are that something will need to be moved out of the way for a repair. I'm figuring space is less of a concern with the bigger pick ups & Benz vehicles because in the videos/pix I've seen of these conversions there is plenty -o-room in the engine bay.

I decided to replace the alternator myself. I could have just replaced the pulley for $69 but a rebuilt 120amp alternator was $263. The OEM alternator on a 2002 Jetta TDI is 90AMPs. I figured with all the electricity I am pulling for the Vegtherm & line heaters it would be a good thing to upgrade. The only part of the veggie system I had to unhook were a few ground wires. I was able to move the purge valve out of the way without disconnecting it.

Below is a general info video

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's here . . .

Actually it's in Geneva . . . The new 2008 Golf/Jetta TDI wagon due here in quantity by the fall.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Vegwerks has a link to a great reference page concerning the fuel tax and legal requirements of most states.

California more or less considers WVO a hazardous waste and the transportation and handling of it requires a license. Fees are $100 annual for the "Blender" license and $100 per vehicle used to transport the oil. A 1 million dollar insurance policy or bond is required for the vehicle. I added an umbrella to my home owners policy and this gave me the million dollar coverage for approx. $250 annually. I guess their thinking is if there is an accident someone has to pay for the cleanup.

Additionally when one purchases fuel commercially the price includes road excise taxes. These taxes, as the name implies, help pay for the upkeep and such of the roads. (How does an electric vehicle fit into this equaton?). The federal tax rate is 24.4 cents a gallon and is paid quarterly (IRS form 720). The California tax it $.18 per gallon and also is to be paid quarterly to the BOE. The state refers to SVO and biodiesel users as "Blenders" and both are subject to the same tax liability.

Concerning the Federal liabilities, some folks refer to the quote below:

"An exclusion from tax on the "blended taxable fuel" mixture is provided in Treasury Regulations section 48.4081-1(c)(1)(ii) for minor blending if: during any calendar quarter the removal or sale of the mixture in aggregate by the blender is less than 400 gallons."

I have been informed (see comments) that this is a misconception and there is no Fed exemption for small blenders. Simply stated - you are liable for any untaxed fuel you use on public roads. Do your own research.

Some states (AR for example - AK?) have recently introduced legislature for an exemption for SVO drivers. Obviously one must check their own state's requirements of how it taxes SVO drivers/vehicles.

At a minimum keep a log of veggie gallons used and consult with your tax professional concerning the specifics of your situation. Don't take my babbling for fact, only as general information to get you started.

UPDATE (6/18/08)
California raised the fees to $100 per year for the license & $300 annual for the vehicle. However there is legislation in the state assembly to waive the $300 annual fee for small home biodiesel/wvo blenders. The insurance policy and $100 license fee would still be required. There is broad support for this measure and it is expected to pass.

VW working on diesel/hybrid = 69MPG

Update - on a side note: VW to stock dealers by June with new Jetta Diesels

Evidently VW is showing a Golf Diesel / Hybrid at the Geneva Auto Show which opened today. It's close to production ready and meets emission standards for all 50 states (read C.A.R.B. or Tier 2 /BIN 5).

Press article here and a thread at here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Changing my driving habits

(136,600 miles)
I am now going through - or mostly done with - my 2nd mild winter here in Southern California running my Jetta on WVO. Last year during the cold spells I started not switching over on the colder days because of my short drive to work and the robustness of my system at the time. This winter I've come to the conclusion, and the practice of, not switching over unless I am in for a longer drive during these cooler months. It is amazing how much the ambient temperature can play.

There is a HUGE thrill in switching over to VO when one firsts convert the car. The idea of driving for free (or very little costs), helping the environment and not playing by the man's rules is a great feeling. But the more I have learned about the process and the fear I have of damaging my engine has made me realize that in my particular situation it is best to just drive on diesel for my daily commute to work, especially during the winter.

My drive to work most days is 8 miles each way. Even though the engine may be at operating temperature there are parts of the engine that are not. I guarantee you that if you were drive your Jetta until the temp gauge read 190º that your IP would still be cool to the touch. It is just not possible to heat the oil to the correct temperature in such a short drive. Even if the oil was a 160º before the IP as soon as it would enter the IP it would drop in temp because the IP would act like a big heatsink and suck the heat out of the oil. The Frybrid HE supposedly solves this problem because it brings the oil in contact the hottest coolant before it is injected.

I have found that if I do several short drives - drive / park / drive/ park - that the heat sink feature can work to my advantage. If I do a short drive and park, the heat from the engine core and coolant lines will radiate the heat to the oil while the car is parked (for a short time, 5-15 minutes). Even though the engine isn't running the oil is being heated as the heat is dispursed. When the car is started again the engine immediately heats up and the oil has absorbed the radiant heat so there is virtually no lost time for the switch over.

The oil tends to get hotter sooner after the switch over if I am doing local driving as opposed freeway driving. I'm assuming this is because of the volume of oil that the engine requires on the freeway is too much for the systems to heat before the complete system is up to temp.

Sometimes I report to a different location that requires me to drive more and I can switch over. I probably purge earlier than needed and for a longer than required period - better safe than sorry. The best scenario, IMHO is one who drives longer distances and waits until the engine is amply hot before switching and then purges correctly.