In the Philippines I continued my practical research on bio fuel as an alternative fuel source. A successful case is the following:

Jolan owns 49 trucks as his business is a trucking service. Since he uses a lot of diesel fuel everyday he wanted to reduce such fuel costs. He therefore researched on the Internet and studied ways how to convert diesel engine systems utilizing vegetable oil. This led him to a tested and approved method which made it possible for him to already convert three trucks to running on recycled cocking oil.

He demonstrated to me one of the trucks which he had converted. It has a two tank system: one is for diesel and the other for used vegetable oil. It can therefore be switched between those two fuel sources and could be considered a hybrid. Diesel is intended to be used for starting the engine. Once the engine isstarted, vegetable oil can be used. Since this particular truck did not have an electronic switch which would enable one to turn on a valve electronically to switch between the two sources of fuel a valve had to be turned manually.

To assure a steady supply of vegetable oil Jolan collects barrels of used cooking oils from middleman vendors. However, this poses a risk as he is not sure from which restaurants the vendor had collected/purchased the used cooking oil. If is comes from fast food restaurants it contains transfats which could be harmful to the engine even when transformed to gas. It may be safer to procure used cooking oil on your own.

Before used vegetable oil can be pumped into the fuel tank impurities have to be filtered out. Jolan therefore devised his own filtering machine. He uses a 0.6hp booster pump with stainless steel parts and a cylinder with a filter bag imported from the U.S. He explained that the used cooking oil had to settle for 3 weeks for large sediments to sink to the bottom.

After the demonstration Jolan and I headed to an emission testing center. We tested carbon emission of vegetable oil first. The data stabilized at around 1.75, which is below the standard cutoff of 2.5 and good enough to pass the test. After that, we switched to diesel fuel. It took 3 minutes to completely replace the vegetable fuel. All the data then showed over 2.5 for diesel fuel and it therefore did not pass the emission test. The owner of the emission testing center was quite amazed by the results and approved to use the truck with vegetable oil but not with diesel as fuel. He explained that most of the recent diesel cars have catalytic converters which filter carbons and other pollutants. Since the truck did not have a catalytic converter which is typical of many, if not most older cars in the Philippines, the only legal way it could run was to use vegetable oil. He also commented that vegetable oil emission smelled like coconut and did not hurt his eyes, although diesel emission did.

It has been well demonstrated by this hands-on investigation (and much research done throughout the world) that vegetable oil can help reduce air pollution. However, it is not a perfect solution since air pollution is an imminent problem that needs to be solved quickly, especially in developing countries like the Philippines, However, I think it is an effective undertaking and a meaningful starting point to implement conversion of widely used old second-hand diesel engines to bio-fuel. Government agencies could/should work hand in hand with local business in converting public and private transportation inclusive of smoke-belching buses and Jeepneys to bio fuel as these are considered to be major causes of air pollution .

Click to watch the report video (WMV format:1.8MB)

Report made in September 2007 by Casey Takayama

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