Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Better than Biodiesel?

My good lady wife found a website yesterday that described a simple chemical formula that you could use to fuel a diesel vehicle for just 46 cents per gallon. No, really! Here's the money quote...
DSE has developed a revolutionary method for producing an inexpensive, high performance fuel that can power ANY DIESEL ENGINE and the cost to you is only 46¢ per gallon!
The example we're using is Diesel Secret Energy, but they're not the only ones marketing such a product. Supposedly, adding a bottle of the company's compound to an appropriate amount of vegetable oil will cause a chemical reaction that produces a liquid fuel that works just as well as biodiesel at only a fraction of the cost, requiring no hazardous chemicals or costly equipment. Apart from the low cost of production, they provide additional reasons to use DSE instead of making biodiesel.
The reasons why you should NOT undertake the manufacture of Bio-diesel are apparent from the dangers of Methanol alone. Add to that the higher expense of manufacture, difficulties in obtaining and safely storing methanol and lye, and the need to dispose of the waste by-product glycerin, and you can quickly see why we make NO comparison to Bio-diesel.

In fact, the only fair comparison to Bio-diesel with our fuel is it's performance and stability. Both fuels are stable and have performance characteristics virtually identical to petroleum diesel. Both are good for the environment. Both add more lubrication to your injection pump than petroleum diesel and will decrease the need for maintenance.
And let's not forget that you can use it to make home heating oil, too.

Sound too good to be true? New Energy Report seems to think so...
A primary complaint about DSE is not even about its product. Veteran posters (and biodiesel users) to the many biodiesel forums found across the internet complain that DSE is simply selling a product that chemically thins waste vegetable oil through a process that is freely available to the public with just a minimum of internet research.
Yes, you can mix it with vegetable oil and get a fuel that will run your diesel engine for a while. Just don't use it in any engine you plan to keep very long.

This product is based on the simple fact that diesel engines are very "robust"; they'll run on just about anything that will flow through the fuel lines and burn. That's why they'll run on straight vegetable oil. They won't necessarily run very well, though, and bad fuel mixes will damage the engine, especially with prolonged use. Vegetable oil, for instance, won't actually hurt the engine while it's running, but it will gum up the parts horribly if allowed to cool in the engine. DSE appears likely to cause a different kind of damage...
The general consensus of those who are "in the know" is that DSE stands to "coke" up the fuel injectors pretty quickly, which will cause a domino effect in the engine, which could, in turn, render the engine useless.
And the safety angle?
Two of the main active ingredients in DSE were found to be xylene and naphthalene, the latter of which is commonly used in mothballs. Xylene, while less dangerous than methanol, is still a dangerous chemical, and equally stringent safety precautions should be taken while working with it.
So the classic skeptic line remains a good one: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

6 comments:

LBBP said...

I used to wonder about this myself, until I saw an episode of Myth Busters where they ran a diesel engine on unfiltered vegetable oil. Their results were fairly positive, however they only ran their test engine for a few liters worth. When I was young, my dad used to make popcorn with vegetable oil in the same pot over and over. Even when washed frequently, it developed a thick gummy residue of oil. It was so bad that the pot couldn't be used for anything else. I can imagine that over time, the same thing would happen to an engine, rendering it useless.

Thursday said...

Naphthalene?

These guys use naphthalene and warn about the safety hazards of biodiesel?

Well, that shows they have (moth) balls, anyways!

Vyvienne said...

My husband and I make biodiesel in our backyard. We have never had any issues with our "hazardous" chemicals, and our fuel averages .70/gallon.

As mentioned, it is true that you can run your car off straight vegetable oil (most commonly waste vegetable oil) but it's best to convert your car to have two fuel tanks. Then start your car on regular diesel, switch to veggie oil, and flush with regular diesel for the last five minutes of your drive. Not much help for in town driving and you increase your chances of have a mechanical problem with two fuel lines.

Anonymous said...

THE DSE fuel only works with specific oils, when used with hydrogenated oils it will gum up everything....just like your atrteries.....get it!

work said...

I ran the DSE formulated waste vegetable oil fuel for 6 months in a 1995 Mercedes with 385,000 miles on it as an experiment. My goal was to avoid applying heat in an enclosed space to chemicals like methanol and lye, as well as vegetable oil. My results verify the obvious. The thinned WVO will burn in the diesel engine when mixed up to 60% with pump diesel (petroleum). But only when the outside temperatures are above 70 degrees F. Any cooler and the oil started getting to thick for the engine to run smoothly at start up. The optimum mix was about 20% DSE WVO at temperatures above 80 degrees F. After analyzing the three alternative fuel methods: Biodiesel, WVO heated tanks, and DSE, my vote would be to bite the bullet, set up appropriate safety measures, and produce biodiesel. I've found one biodiesel machine online where all you do is add the VO, methanol, lye, etc into the machine and it produces up to 50 gallons of Biodiesel in about 46 hours. The downside to BD remains the waste glycerin, 20% of every batch.

JPS said...

Going to try this BioFuel. SVO + a thinning agent sounds like a good idea to me. Lots of folks using it and down here in the South, with moderate temperatures, will not have the headache with viscosity issues like those in cooler climates.

JP Saleeby, MD