Monday, February 25, 2008

algae to the rescue

Here's a video showing a development on the algae-bio-fuel production method.

cool stuff. I hear that with this method they're past 50,000 gallons/acre per yr, and they're shooting to double that yield in the next year. This sort of production could really make virgin veggie make a lot more sense.

I'm not quite sure where the carbon is coming from with those numbers above. There's mention of using the algae to sequester the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power plants, so I don't know what the rates of production would be like using atmospheric carbon dioxide, but this is still really cool.

Monday, February 18, 2008

single tank conversion

under my hood these days

So finally, with the help of Billy Jacobs, we're running on vegetable oil. Ol' Esperanza is ready to go. I ended up buying a kit from Craig Reece that included the Plantdrive vegtherm, an electrical boost heater.

the vegtherm electric boost heater

The kit also included a "TurboFyner" from Ramco, which is the coolant-heated fuel filter.

the turbo-fyner coolant heated filter

A minus on the Craig Reece kit, is that you have to get most of the install parts yourself. Since I had to source and buy all the hoses, fittings, etc. anyway, of course I ended up modifying the install to some extent. I put in some temperature gauges, (one after the heated filter, one after the electrical boost heater). I also changed the order of part installation to one that made more sense to me, and added another clear filter.

The instructions that came with the kit were a bit spotty. Really thorough in parts, but misleading in others. NO DIAGRAMS!! (what!?!?). My dirty schematic looks like this.

under my hood these days

So, anyway, it's done, and I even mounted the temperature gauges above the steering column so that they would look nice.

pretty, but as it turns out, useless gauges

Also - it seems it doesn't get as hot as quickly as I expected. Sad. So there are some changes planned that I might make: reduce the amount of fuel hose in the engine compartment. change the alternator to something rated for higher loads. Also, gauges that monitor lower temperatures.

UPDATE - a week later, and we've already had a part go out. I hadn't had time to replace the delivery hose (from tank to engine compartment) with the higher diameter viton to compensate for the higher viscosity of the veggie oil. This created a higher pulling pressure on the components and lines before the fuel pump. So the manual fuel pump started leaking air, and jess got stranded one morning just before the Richmond bridge. This wasn't an expensive repair, and it was one that many folks recommend doing even if your hand pump isn't broken (because a later model pump is much easier to use). It also was actually kind of predictable (in hind sight, of course), so no fault, no (major) harm. I'm still learning stuff. Also, I'm going to have to check for more leaks in a month or so...