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Biodiesel or SVO?

Although biodiesel is drawing increasing attention from automakers, policymakers and farmers, there is another biofuel that can be used in diesel engines: straight vegetable oil, or SVO.

The two approaches, although apparently similar, are operationally and philosophically quite different. Broadly stated, you can either modify (refine) plant oil to create biodiesel to run in an unmodified diesel engine, or you can modify an engine system to allow it to use unaltered vegetable oil.

Journey to Forever, a terrific resource on multiple aspects of sustainability, puts it this way:

Does the SVO option work? Yes—IF you go about it the right way. It’s not quite that simple a choice. For one thing, if you want to use waste vegetable oil, which is often free, you’re going to have to process it anyway, though less so than to make biodiesel. And it still might not be a very good fuel.

The main problem is that vegetable oil is much more viscous (thicker) than conventional diesel fuel. It must be heated (thinned) so that it can be properly atomised by the fuel injectors. If it’s not properly atomised, it won’t burn properly, forming deposits on the injectors and in the cylinder head, leading to poor performance, higher emissions, and reduced engine life.

Nonetheless, experience is showing that SVO systems are a practical proposition with a lot of advantages to offer, not least of all that using SVO can be cheaper than turning it into biodiesel and uses less energy than making biodiesel does.

But you have to be willing to take on the modifications. For those inclined to a D-I-Y project, there are a number of resources and kits available.

I will start including SVO on the site, including product news and lifecycle and emissions studies.

A few SVO links and online resources



I want to know that , though for using Biodiesel no major modifications are required but still whether we can modify the engine for its better performence.? for this what are the steps to be taken.? In modern scenerio what are asspects of biodiesel.? Plz reply....

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Actually interesting site. Thanks to you for info. You are good that, remain so. 1288769312

siddharth jain

hi sir/mam
I am an IIT student and have done my masters thesis on performance of IC engine using biodiesel from different oil sources. in that i prepared biodiesel from jatropha oil and waste cooking oil. now I am further want to do research on oxidation stability of biodiesel and its effect on IC engine. can you provide me some good ideas related to that.


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Advanced diesel vehicles using EPA-mandated ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel are among the most fuel-efficient vehicles available today. Collaborative R&D between DOE, industry and the national laboratories has resulted in improved engine efficiency and very low emissions. Collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, industry, and national laboratories under the DOE Diesel Emission Control Sulfur Effects (DECSE) program provided the supporting data needed to mandate 15 ppm sulfur in diesel fuel as the appropriate level to maintain effectiveness of diesel engine emission control technologies. Most diesel vehicles also can run on biodiesel blends without engine modification.

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