Viscosity testing of WVO & blends

Single Tank WVO systems and blending SVO WVO to thin it.

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Postby bio_cowboy » Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:45 pm

Hello SunWizard, thanks for saving me some money, because I did not notice the change in units. I thought they were for testing thinner fluids. As for using the visgage for testing the viscosity of solvents, you have already demonstrated for us, that the visgage will not work with gasoline, etc. So, vis cups will most likely be the method I use for testing stale gas and mis-fuel etc.
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Postby 240Volvo » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:03 pm

Hey, bio-cowboy

That is an intriguing project, and I look forward to your results. What solvents are you considering, and at what temps will you test?
1984 Volvo 240 diesel with a single tank Elsbett conversion: electric fuel filter heater, FPHE, glow plugs, and injectors. Also injector line heaters and block heater, running 20%kero/80%WVO winter blend.
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Postby bio_cowboy » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:54 pm

Hey 240Volvo, I plan to get a base line of a few oils, such as Rape Seed, sunflower, soy, and palm oils roughly from 0c to 100c in 20-degree increments. And, a series of solvents, such as: petroleum distillates, like diesel, kerosene and gasoline; Alcohols, such as ethyl, Isopropyl and methyl; ketones, such as acetone and MEK; and turpentine; in 20-degree increments from -40c to 40c. Then test various blends of the solvents with the oils in say: 5-50% in 5% increments from -40 to 40c, then plot those curves. Once I have built a curve for each solvent, and one for each oil, then curves for the blends that is based upon test data, then I plan to make some predictions and test those predictions in a few autos and gather performance and emission data.

How has your 20%kero/80%WVO winter blend worked so far? Have you made it through a winter in New Jersey with your blend? If so, how many winters? Do you always startup with a block heater? Have your tried starting on a cold morning without the block heater? Does your WVO have any animal fat in it?

I ask, because my research design is to find a vegetable oil-based fuel mix that will start most diesel engines cold, with no block heater, in the winter in most localities in the continental USA, without modifications to the auto.

Be good to your ride and your ride will be good to you, bio-cowboy
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Postby John Galt » Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:38 am

my research design is to find a vegetable oil-based fuel mix that will start most diesel engines cold, with no block heater, in the winter in most localities in the continental USA, without modifications to the auto.

Lots of mixes will start, but the engine will run rough and they produce an excess of unburned fuel that will cause deposits that significantly reduce engine life.
Be good to your ride and your ride will be good to you

One wants a mix that starts with no smoke, thus indicating complete combustion.

By 'continental' US I assume you mean the lower 48, not Alaska.

Use of a block heater significantly improves combustion on start-up, why would one want to omit such simple proven technology? That would be like refusing to use winter grade diesel in a cold climate.
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Postby 240Volvo » Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:03 am

I use WVO that is cold filtered (no animal fats/PHO) and I use a block heater except when I have been at work all day. Starting my third winter. Block heater makes a huge difference in cold AM starting, and I am up to normal temp is less than a mile. Starting w/o block heater in AM is rough.

I am curious what solvents and animal fats might do, but I have read conflicting reports.

As I mentioned much earlier in this thread, the published data on turps and viscosity is odd, and I would be interested to see more about that, as it is a non-petrol based solvent.

Your plan sounds very interesting, and I look forward to your future posts. Thanks for your efforts.
1984 Volvo 240 diesel with a single tank Elsbett conversion: electric fuel filter heater, FPHE, glow plugs, and injectors. Also injector line heaters and block heater, running 20%kero/80%WVO winter blend.
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Postby bio_cowboy » Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:18 am

Hey you all, John Galt and 240Volvo, thanks Mr. Galt for posting your interesting comments but it is doubtful that you have research data to support your premise.
John Galt wrote:Lots of mixes will start, but the engine will run rough and they produce an excess of unburned fuel that will cause deposits that significantly reduce engine life.
However, I am sure you have experience and anecdote to support your beliefs, and I do agree with much of what you say. So, I agree that just getting a diesel engine to run is not the same as it running reliably and not polluting. That is why I plan to gather emissions data once I feel I have found one or more blends that work. My guess is I will find several successful blends. Those blends will have their advantages in one region over another.

My underlying research design is based upon the premise that the reason why the westernized nations are in the energy and economic problem that they are in, is because they have all become dependent upon the inefficient combustion of a narrow range of fuels, all of which are fossil fuels. While it is doubtful that we will be able to fuel all 6 to 10 billion humans on this planet with renewable bio-fuels, it is nonetheless possible to create a diversification of fuel options that will allow many people, even whole third-world nations, to become energy self-sufficient. We will get there through conservation, recycling and finding viable alternatives, as the members of every bio-fuels and alternative energy forum demonstrates.

Mr. Galt, I also agree that a block heater is very useful for starting a diesel engine on marginal fuels when it is cold. But, as 240Volvo pointed out, how do we start the engine at work, or shopping after it has been off for 2 hours? Also, Europeans generally do not have block heaters installed on their engines. And, not every parking lot in the lower 48, nor the rest of the world, offers a power outlet. Of course the two-tank solution solves that problem, but I am interested in finding a solution that does not require technical proficiency on the part of the consumer, and will work almost anywhere. This means I am interested in a solution that will appeal to every fuel depot that will purchase tallow from tallow companies. They will filter and blend it into a fuel that works in their region as well as diesel fuel.

While bio-diesel offers this kind of solution, but, no offense intended to the bio-diesel clan, they use 20% methanol, heat up the oil, blend vigorously, and the process does not even lower the gel point, it only lowers the viscosity. Also 20% of the fuel is lost as glycerin! Whereas a blending solution only needs to add 20% solvent to filtered and dewatered tallow, it lowers the gel-point at the same time, and there is no 20% loss to glycerin, because the whole blend is fuel. The bio-diesel process is just a lot more work and energy demanding with a 20% loss that blending does not have. It thus seems to me that blending is a more long-term solution than bio-diesel, it just has nearly no research data in support of it.

Yes, 240Volvo, I read your comments regarding turpentine up thread. The problem, as I see it, is there is nearly no data in support of blending. Most of us blenders are relying upon anecdote from untrained backyard enthusiasts, who have a limited budget. This is why I plan to gather as much authentic data as I can for this project. It might prove that blending is not viable, but I have read through the forum archives of the major bio-fuels forums and found the anecdotes alone suggest that we will find a functional blending solution that does not pollute any more than fossil fuels, nor damage the auto.

Ride’m blenders away, bio-cowboy
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Postby zoochy » Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:01 pm

Bio-cowboy:

Your pursuit is a noble one, “how to help the planet and get rich at the same time”. No offence intended, I have many friends in the environmental consulting business who are doing just that.

The instruments you require to gather your “authentic data” are:

1. a fridge/freezer with temperature controls accurately enough to determine gel-point.
2. an instrument that measures viscosity.
3. (this one isn’t cheap or easy) an instrument that determines cetane value.

Number three is key, without it your results will be no better than our “untrained backyard enthusiast” data set.

Best of luck to you and please keep us posted.
1988 Dodge Ram in progress.
1997 Dodge Ram- 2 tank; Arctic Fox pickup; TIH; Plantdrive VM2 filter; Hydroforce valves
PREVIOUS 91 Toyota Hiace 3L engine >200,000 km on: 88% canola WVO; 11% old gasoline; 0.6% turpentine; 0.3% acetone; 0.1% eye of newt
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Postby bio_cowboy » Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:07 am

Howdy zoochy, while my motive is not to get rich, I am nonetheless interested in the subject, and why not publish my results? And, if I do, why should I not gain from my efforts?

Yes, I agree a refrigerator or some other method of getting cold temps to get the lower temperature measurements, is a must. I have figured that out. And, something that will give me standardized viscosity readings is also necessary, which I have also figured out and acquired. Also, some kind of precision temperature controller is required, because the fluctuations in most temperature controllers is too rough for the level of precision I would like to achieve for my viscosity measurements. Also, a precise temperature measuring system for the range I am interested in, is also important.

However, something that measures cetane value, I believe is rather indirect, and not relevant. Whereas measuring viscosity, power, MPG and emissions are more direct.

If, for instance, I find blends that approximate the physical properties of diesel fuel, and I test those blends on an auto and gather MPG and emissions data for that auto running on those blends, and those values are good, then who cares about the cetane value is for that blend? Isn't cetane value just a way of looking at a fuel to see if it will perform properly on an auto? So, if a fuel blend delivers adequate MPG with low emissions, can we assume that we have found a serviceable fuel without knowing its cetane value? I believe we can.

Ride’m blenders away, bio-cowboy
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Postby John Galt » Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:55 pm

we will find a functional blending solution that does not pollute any more than fossil fuels, nor damage the auto.

I have found a blending solution based on the research that burns cleaner than VO or ULSD by itself which won't damage the engine.
20% VO, 10% jetB, 0.2% turpentine, 0.1% acetone.
Unfortunately most folks want to burn way more than 20% VO which IMHO will damage the engine or at the very least decrease it's natural longevity. The thing is, unless someone is willing to do expensive engine inspections to assess deposit formation it's all just guessing about engine damage or not. I'm going to continue the conservative approach since the value of additional fuel savings does not outweigh expensive engine damage.
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Postby zoochy » Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:06 pm

Cetane number is a measurement of the combustion quality of fuel during compression ignition. It’s about as direct and relevant a measure of diesel fuel quality there is.

I agree emissions are an important component and should be tested as well. MPG is extremely subjective and varies greatly with things such as temperature, road and traffic conditions, driving habits, wind, etc. Simply repeating emission and MPG tests won’t contribute much new to the body of knowledge already available on this and the infopop site. Although repeatability is one of the fundamentals of the scientific method so by all means, giver! It would just be really nice if you could provide something original, thereby meaningful to us, and publishable for you.

I’m just trying to help you out here because I admire your zeal.
1988 Dodge Ram in progress.
1997 Dodge Ram- 2 tank; Arctic Fox pickup; TIH; Plantdrive VM2 filter; Hydroforce valves
PREVIOUS 91 Toyota Hiace 3L engine >200,000 km on: 88% canola WVO; 11% old gasoline; 0.6% turpentine; 0.3% acetone; 0.1% eye of newt
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Postby bio_cowboy » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:32 am

Hey you all, as we can see from John Galt and zoochy, there are a fairly broad range of solvents being used to thin vegetable oil. If we examine the archives of the forums that allow blenders to post, which is not many because the majority of bio-fuelers feel that blending is somehow inferior or inappropriate, nonetheless, on those forums where blending discussions are tolerated, we find an even broader range of solvents in use. In fact we see just about every solvent known being used to thin vegetable oil to make it work as a diesel fuel. We also find on those forums some pretty nasty dogmatic attitudes being expressed toward blenders and even between blenders.

We find in most cases people are blending diesel fuel with vegetable oil at about 50% solution. However, in that community we find diesel blenders have the greatest problems with fuel gelling in the winter. The reason for this is, while adding diesel fuel to VO thins it and lowers its gel-point, adding VO to diesel thickens it and raises its gel-point. Thus these blends tend to gel and block fuel filters when the ambient temperatures drop below 32F (0c).

We find kerosene is the next most common solvent in use at about 30% solution. These people are primarily in North America, and they tend to be deeply offended by people who blend with gasoline. Because kerosene has a much lower gel-point than diesel fuel, and it is thinner, then these people generally do not have trouble in the winter, and they tend to use about 40% less kerosene than blenders who use diesel fuel.

The next most common solvent in use is gasoline at 5%-20% solution. These people are mostly in the UK, because the government of the UK takes road tax very seriously and has inspectors doing road tests. There, those who are found to be running kerosene in their fuel will face steep fines and even have their autos crushed. Thus, the UK forums tend to be very offensive toward those who blend with kerosene. Gasoline blenders tend to use about 50% less gasoline (petrol) than blenders who use diesel fuel.

A small community is using Naptha as their primary solvent. They tend to feel superior to those who thin with gasoline, not knowing that Naptha is nearly the same substance as gasoline. The only real difference between the two substances is gasoline has additives to improve octane and engine lubrication.

Finally, we find small quantities of turpentine and/or acetone in use. Some are even using MEK and other solvents. In fact we find nearly every solvent known being experimented with to convert vegetable oil to diesel fuel. The advantage of this class of solvents is they dissolve animal fat, whereas petroleum distillates do not.

The central concept behind blending is simply thinning vegetable oil with solvents. VO has a viscosity of about 30-50 centistokes at 100°F (40°C), and solvents are used to thin it down to the viscosity of #2 diesel fuel, which is about 1.9-4.1 centistokes at 100°F (40°C). We also find that this low viscosity is apparently not crucial, because the bio-diesel process only reduces the viscosity of vegetable oil down to about 4.43-6.7 centistokes at 100°F (40°C), but it runs fine on most diesel engines. We also know that there is a large number of people who have had no trouble burning 100% VO in the warm months, although these people tend to have coking and emission problems.

The broad range of blends in use are reflected by John Galt and zoochy (see below). Zoochy lives in Victoria, BC, Canada, where the weather is about as mild as it is in the UK. There he finds as little as 12% light solvents to thin his VO works fine year-round. And, if we look at the bio-fuels forums in the UK we find there it is common to add between 5%-10% gasoline in the winter, even among bio-diesel consumers, because, while the bio-diesel process reduces the viscosity of the source oil, it does not lower the gel-point, so when the ambient in the UK drops below freezing they all head to the gas station to top off with gasoline, or their auto will not run.

On the other hand John Galt lives in the tundra in Northern Canada, where he only uses about 20% VO. There his thinning agent is primarily diesel fuel at about 70%, plus 10% jetB, which is basically a blend of kerosene and naptha. He states the following:
John Galt wrote:Unfortunately most folks want to burn way more than 20% VO which IMHO will damage the engine or at the very least decrease it's natural longevity.
While zoochy does not state that his blend does not coke his engine or have high emissions, considering the reports from the UK where gasoline thinning is common, and gasoline blenders there find no coking or emission problems, we can then conclude that his auto most probably runs fine on his blend in his region. Thus, we can conclude that the fundamental difference in solvent use is regional, due in part to politics and in part due to weather. So, we are not going to find one blending solution to meet everyone’s needs. But, if we do some basic testing we might be able to demonstrate that this broad range is acceptable, is primarily due to regional weather variations; and we may even define the weather conditions that support the various blends.

John Galt wrote:69.7% ULSD
20% VO
10% jetB (kerosene and naptha
0.2% turpentine
0.1% acetone
zoochy wrote:88% canola WVO
11% old gasoline
.6% turpentine
.3% acetone


Ride’m blenders away, bio-cowboy
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Postby John Galt » Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:17 pm

Very nice summary, thanks for pulling it together. The research I based my blending on can be found at:
http://biodiesel.infopop.cc/eve/forums/ ... 2271008052
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Postby rtarh2o » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:17 pm

Sunwizard, these numbers were from an earlier post
Using new canola (125) at 60F:
With winter D2 or Kero (35):
V90: 110
V80: 97 (measured 85)
V70: 85

computed With RUG (30):
V90: 109 (measured 75)
V80: 94 (measured 70)

With worst D2 (45):
V80: 102
V50: 75

V100 heated to 160F= 85 SSU.
100% D2 chilled to 32F= 110 SSU.

My theory is this, I assume all injector systems should be built to withstand the extremes of the fuel in which it is intended to be used. The last line on the above figures is 110 SSU for 32º D2. From my own very rudimentary experiments using a paint viscosity cup I found that all of the blends, including straight diesel get much thicker when the temperatures drop down further to 15º (the temperature my freezer got it down to) With that said I assume all injector systems should be able to handle fuels as thick as the extremes of diesel, which includes even the straight canola at 60º. Granted that assumes the temperature is 60º or above but I don't think we need to try to match the viscosity of 60º diesel either.
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Postby SunWizard » Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:26 pm

I agree and thats why I posted D2 viscosity when chilled. I think I also linked somewhere a chart of viscosity vs. temp for D2 and VO. They are on the frybrid research section.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
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Postby rtarh2o » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:59 pm

Sunwizard, I am also wondering what the spray pattern of cold, thick diesel would be since that is apparently the problem with thick WVO. Given the same viscosity wouldn't the spray patterns be similar? I have heard that diesel has oil in it? Is this true? If so what is the difference between it and a WVO blend besides a higher ratio of oil?
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