Canola Power: Running your Car on Straight Vegetable Oil

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Canola Power: Running your Car on Straight Vegetable Oil …

Canola Power: Running your Car on Straight Vegetable Oil

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  • 1. 8 / www.DakotaFarmer.com - September 2008Around Dakota Ag Germans use veggie-oil fuel By JADE ESTLING T HIS winter, I traveled to Germany with four other people to visit farmers who are making their own fuel from canola. We toured smaller operations of less than a thousand acres and a fairly large operation of more than 8,600 acres. The four farms we vis- ited were diversified. They had mixed cropping rotations along with cattle (dairy or beef) or swine. One farm had a trucking company and a potato pro- cessing plant. The farmers said it was very im- portant to use small presses to pro- duce straight vegetable oil, or SVO, to use as a fuel. If they need more ca- pacity, they’ll add more small presses rather than installing a big press. One of the farmers explained that a larger press generates more heat.ON-FARM OIL: Robert Schauf holds a bottle of vegetable oil that he made from canola and will burn in his tractors. He makes As the press temperature rises, it ex-about 35,000 gallons a year, enough to run his 1,000-acre dairy farm. The oil costs $1 to $1.50 per gallon less than diesel fuel. tracts more minerals along with the oil from the seed. Vegetable oil that’s toCanola power be burned in a diesel engine should have no more than 12 parts per mil- lion of phosphorus. Rapstruck, a German company, has sold more than 6,500 kits to modify engines to run on SVO and a commodity shed. The addition houses switch back and forth between dieselBy LON TONNESON Key Points the press, filtering equipment, plastic fuel and SVO automatically. The storage tanks and a meal bunker. He kit consists of an extra fuel tank, a O $4.50-per-gallon diesel fuel forN Robert Schauf. Schauf, Barron, Wis., runs his1,000-acre dairy farm and internation- ■ Dairy farm makes its own fuel and meal from canola. ■ Indianhead Holsteins burns straight vegetable oil in its tractors. also put up an 18-foot-diameter, 10,000- bushel grain bin to store the canola seed. Each engine conversion kit cost approximately $5,000. heating system that uses engine heat to keep the SVO from jelling up, tem- perature sensors and a computer to switch the engine from diesel fuel toally known purebred Holstein operation, SVO and back. ■ Savings amount to $1 to $1.50 per gallon Schauf calculates that he is makingIndianhead Holsteins, on 100% vegetable Operators fill the tractor’s or truck’s over diesel fuel. SVO for approximately $2.25 per gallon.oil. original fuel tank with SVO and the He makes the fuel on his farm from This includes the capital investment, small second tank with diesel fuel tocanola. He puts the canola seed through Schauf says, but now they don’t have to depreciation and operating costs. “Our start and operate the engine when ita cold press that squeezes the oil from spend much time checking equipment. goal is to maintain a $1 to $2 per gallon is cold. When the exhaust tempera-the seed. The press — imported from The press fills and runs automatically. margin between the price of diesel fuel ture reaches a certain point, the com-Germany — cost approximately $28,000 and our cost of production,” he says. puter switches to SVO.and is no bigger than a medium-sized Engine kits Schauf expects to produce about When the engine starts coolingTV. Vegetable oil comes out one side and Schauf installed German-made conver- 35,000 gallons of oil this year and recoup down or is about to be shut down, itfeed pellets come out the other. sion kits on his tractors so they run on his investment in three to four years. switches back to diesel to help purge Because the press doesn’t use heat straight vegetable oil. To burn SVO in The press, engine kits and the other pro- the system of SVO so that it can beor chemicals to extract the oil, the meal an engine, you have to get the oil warm. duction equipment should last at least started cold with diesel fuel.makes a particularly good cattle feed. Otherwise it gels up and can’t be 20 years. Before the trip, I was skeptical pumped through the lines or the in- “We’ve been doing this for a while about SVO. I thought engine life wouldSchauf feeds the meal to his dairy cows jector. and haven’t had be greatly reduced. But the farmersand calves and has enough left to sell The kit consists of a second fuel tank, any problems,” he we met said they were very happyto other livestock producers. He has re- with SVO. Many tractors had 4,000 toplaced all of the soybean meal he used special fuel lines, a heating system that says, “and we’re 5,000 hours of use. Most were Fendtto buy with his homemade canola meal. uses the engine coolant to warm up the making money.” and John Deere. One 8300 John The oil goes through a couple of fil- vegetable oil, sensors, and a computer Deere had more than 10,000 hoursters and is ready to burn in tractors. that monitors the engine and exhaust on it. Some trucks had more than “There has been a big learning curve,” temperature. HEATER BOX: 500,000 kilometers of use with the Schauf fills one tank with diesel and Vegetable oil is diesel/SVO two-tank conversions. the other with vegetable oil. He starts heated with engine Estling is a University of What’s old the tractor with diesel fuel. When the engine and the vegetable fuel reach the coolant in a tank box added to the Minnesota/Crookston student and is working on a SVO project. is new again proper temperatures, the computer switches the engine over from diesel fuel to SVO. tractor engine. U SING vegetable oil for fuel is as old as the diesel engine itself. If the engine or vegetable-oil tem- Learn more about making fuel online The first known use of vegetable perature drops — as when idling — the oil as fuel in a diesel engine was at the 1900 World’s Fair. computer will switch the engine back to diesel fuel. Before shutting down a T O learn more about making veg- etable oil fuel on the farm, contact: ■ Robert Schauf, owner and op- to test the oil in tractors. Phone: 218- 281-8104. E-mail: paakre@umn.edu. Web site: www.umcrookston.edu/ Periodic petroleum shortages in tractor, the operator purges the SVO erator, Indianhead Holsteins. Phone: faculty/A/Paul_Aakre.htm. the 1930s, 1940s and 1970s spurred from the engine to prepare it for a cold 715-537-9376. E-mail: indianhead@ ■ Circle Energy, importers of research into straight vegetable oil as start using diesel fuel. blk-rose.com. Web site: www. German oilseed presses for SVO and a diesel substitute. indianheadholsteins.com. engine conversion technology. Dieter This year, Penn State exhibited $100,000 investment ■ Paul Aakre, University of Härle, representative. Phone: 563- two New Holland tractors with Tier 3 Schauf invested $100,000 to make his Minnesota/Crookston associate pro- 355-5006 or 563-940-1440. E-mail: engines converted to run on SVO at own vegetable oil and convert his trac- fessor. He has done some preliminary DietHarle@netexpress.net. Web site: the Pennsylvania Ag Progress Days. tors. The investment included a 20-by- work on SVO and has a grant this year www.circle-energy.com. 40-foot insulated and heated addition to