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DIY BioDiesel: Off-Grid Solutions for Vehicle Fuel

March 24, 2015       Curious Mind
DIY Bio-Diesel
Off-Grid Solutions for Vehicle Fuel

When the supply and power grids go down in an extreme situation, AKA a super-typhoon or worse: a solar coronal mass ejection that sends a lethal EMP that shorts the entire support systems we use, one of the main concerns for everyone, aside from stockpiling food and water, medicine and other survival gear is vehicle fuel.

We can only travel so far to source for our needs from everywhere if we run out of vehicle fuel.  But if we have a particular type of diesel engine in our choice of survival vehicle, chances are it will also run on bio-diesel.  School kids today make bio-diesel as part of science projects, and preppers have also latched onto this survival technology by  preparing equipment that can make batches of useful bio-diesel for use in their own diesel engine vehicles.

This public domain infografix shows how BioDiesel is
manufactured from vegetable oil.

As Off-Grid Secret Tech: Bio-Diesel Powers Older Diesel Engines

Assuming that any extreme situation causes the supply grid to shut down, what do we do for fuel?

Why, we can make our own Bio-Diesel using either fresh vegetable oil, or waste vegetable oil coming from fastfood or oriental restos.  Biodiesel is NOT an inferior fuel alternative in any sense.  It IS better for your old diesel engine than the usual petrol-based diesel fuel that pollutes the air.  There are farmers cooperatives and other industrial farms that plant crops for the purpose of manufacturing bio-diesel and bio-diesel is available at the pump in first world countries.

Pump BioDiesel image from Rnt20          WikiCommons  CC  BY-SA 3.0

Invention of the Diesel Engine:  Running on Peanut Oil!

In the early 1900s, Doctor Rudolf Diesel just invented the diesel engine and displayed it at the Paris exhibition. The grandmama of all diesel engines was sitting there and surprise, surprise; it was running on just peanut oil processed fuel--coined as diesel fuel!

Inventor of original vegetable oil-based fuel fed
Diesel Engine:  Doctor Rudolf Diesel.

Rudolf designed the original Diesel engine to run on a variety of plant-based fuels exclaiming in his Paris speech: "the diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils and will help considerably in the development of the agriculture of the countries which use it."  After holding secret talks with the UK navy about rigging diesel engines for the Royal submarine fleet, Rudolf Diesel was assassinated by the French to stop him from spreading diesel technology into submarines over the world. His body was found drifting in the English channel.  After Diesel’s death the petroleum industry lobbied heavily for petrol based diesel fuel to be adopted as the 'standard' engine oil for the Diesel engine.  And so dirty petrol diesel became the de facto fuel for Rudolf's engine until biodiesel research was revived decades later.

Fast Facts:

  1. Biodiesel works best in older diesel vehicles with precombustion-chamber mechanical injection.  In the more modern injection diesel engines, bio-diesel can actually damage the engine because it is more viscous than standard petrol diesel.
  2. Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic.
  3. Bio-diesel stores indefinitely in completely full, cool, dark containers.
  4. Compared to petrol-based diesel, biodiesel burns cleanly and does not produce excessive carcinogens and carbon effluents like petrol diesel.
How it Works / DIY Bio-Diesel HomeBrewing Safety

Biodiesel can be made when we use vegetable oil (either new or used), and process it into a fuel that’s thin enough to spray from a regular diesel engine’s fuel-injection system. By converting the oil into two types of compounds using a filter processor mixer to create: biodiesel, which retains the original oil’s combustibility, and glycerin, which retains the oil’s thick, viscous properties. Drain away the glycerin, and you’re left with a fuel that you can pour into any diesel vehicle with no further modification:

  1. First filter out everything that isn’t oil.  Add lye in the correct quantity.
  2. You can make your own lye in a bucket with firewood or charcoal coal ash.  
  3. Mix thoroughly for an extended period of time. Mixing well creates the chemical reaction needed to produce the biofuel.
Of course whenever you’re dealing with lye you’ve got to be extremely careful.  Learn the correct hazmat training it takes to brew your own fuel.  Lye is poisonous and caustic.  Even if biodiesel is stable, take all safety precautions and handle the material wearing all necessary safety gear, from safety goggles to safety gloves and work apron.  There are very specific recipes and prcessing instructions available online from experts in DIY biodiesel processing so check them out for exact measurements of each component if you plan to make your own backyard biodiesel production.

Backyard Op or an Off-Grid Commune Supplier?

Check the web for blueprints for DIY Bio-diesel mixers and processors.  There are plenty of resources from backyard operations to larger scale processing plants for bio-diesel.  There are specific technical requirements for measuring the chemical components and mixes you will use of vegetable oil, lye and other ingredients for making bio-diesel so make sure you understand how the process goes before starting your operation.

One rig for processing biodiesel fuel right in your backyard using
waste vegetable oil or pure vegetable oil.  There are plenty of rigs
available off the shelf for DIY off-grid preppers on the web.

This one from NWR at

Commercial processors around the world even have their own dedicated farms for making biodiesel resources and supply countries with biodiesel as an alternative fuel source.  For people who want off-grid survivability with their own fuel resource to help supply local prepper community FUEL needs as well as their own they can start stocking the fuel at home the way preppers stock emergency supplies.  If done on a massive scale, this might even take plenty away from the supply grid of Petrol mega-corporations.  A home rig for making biodiesel is your own little investment in alternative fuel resource for emergency situations.


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