Home Biodiesel Production now in the Black!

Well, after 1 1/2 years, we’ve made 540 gallons of biodiesel in our appleseed processor and driven somewhere north of 13,000 miles on this renewable, CO2 neutral fuel. We’ve spent $1670 to build the processor, wash tank, storage tank/fueling station, a small shed to house it all, and the methanol and KOH needed for the process. With the current batch of homebrew B100, our total cost per gallon will be $3.09, now under the market price for dino-diesel. From here on out, the basic costs will be around $1.00/gallon for biodiesel and $0.25/gallon for filtering used vegetable oil. We currently have a Jetta TDI at 43mpg and by next month we’ll have the ’87 Westy Syncro TD Vanagon running biodiesel with a vegetable oil conversion getting an estimated 28-30mpg. Assuming that we drive a combined 15,000 mi/yr and take into consideration mileage, we’ll spend $269 on biofuel as opposed to $1394 for fossil fuel, saving $1125, reducing our cost by 80%, negating the CO2 emissions, and no longer require foreign or domestic petroleum. Granted, it takes time to do all this, but now that I have the process fairly wired, it takes less than 3 hours for a batch of 30 gallons.

I officially consider our biodiesel experiment a success! At the very least, we’ve broken even, decreased our fossil fuel use, and learned a ton. Plus, from here on out we’ll be saving money as well as being part of the solution not the problem.

Seek out biofuel options in your area!

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4 Responses to “Home Biodiesel Production now in the Black!”

  1. Dude you rock so hard!

  2. Hey Clint,

    It was great to meet you Saturday. I am impressed with your efforts towards sustainability. Truly inspiring!

    I asked our engineers about running your bio-diesel generator and it should not be a problem. However, it does need to run independently of the solar. You do not want to back feed the generator with electricity… Feel free to contact me for any further information… or even if you just wanna grab a beer!

    -Jason
    joppler@recsolar.com

  3. Hey Clint – I’m looking for a diesel syncro full camper westy with vegetable oil conversion. Are you going to sell me yours or am I going to have to build one myself? Seriously, how do I find one?

    David
    jdavidmurray@gmail.com

  4. Clint Slaughter, M.D. Says:

    Hey Dave,
    Sorry, but I’ve been working on getting this thing built for the better part of a year, so I’m not selling!
    However, my legwork might help you get a similar project rolling.
    As you probably know, diesel syncros were never imported to the U.S.. Therefore, you have a few other options:
    1. Find one in Europe and have it imported.
    2. Find one that was already converted and pay a lot of money
    3. Find a syncro camper in good condition and have it converted for you.

    First, finding the van: I searched autotrader, ebay, local photo ads and every other internet place I could and found a great deal on a local Westy Syncro in good condition for $11K (I know, I got a steal!).
    Next, finding the parts: After quite a bit of searching and phone calls, I found a guy named Thomas at qualitygermanautoparts.com in Montclair, CA north of L.A.. Thomas specializes in syncro and other VW parts and has an impressive yard with diesel engines and various bits and pieces. He sells 1.6L TD kits from European diesel Syncros, complete with engine, fuel tank, mounting arms, and bellhousing (all of the difficult to find specialty parts for a diesel conversion). He won’t sell these parts separate from the engine, so I opted to buy a 1.9L TD engine from him as well, as I wanted as much power as I could get without making the jump to the more expensive and complicated TDI conversion.
    The next part is the installation: I can’t do it myself and couldn’t find a local shop to do it. The all-powerful Go Westy is just down the road in Los Osos, and Lucas, one of the owners, gave me a hard time, the evil eye, and refused to do the conversion. I then found Jeff at autostadtwest.com in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, who can not only import a diesel syncro if you find one, but his father is an excellent old-school German mechanic! They are currently in the process of performing the transplant, and despite multiple issues with my transmission, it should be done soon. I picked up the engines in L.A., drove them to Sacramento, and we’ll soon have a biodiesel/SVO Syncro Westy!
    Good luck!

    Clint

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