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Would You Use Biodiesel if Available

Jan 22, 2008
7,849
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
Just saw a bumper sticker on an older pickup truck: "My truck uses that Bio-fuel; It burns gas AND oil". Chick-a boom.
 
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Likes: Whatfiero1
Feb 9, 2019
1
Schwill yachts 20 Boiling Springs
If you're not burning through your fuel in less than two weeks, biodiesel is a horrible idea. It attracts water much more quickly than recycled dinosaurs. We tried it in our fire trucks, which spend a lot of their time not running, much like a boat, and the rigs that don't run very much end up with algae blooms of epic proportions that completely shut down the fuel system and necessitate a $2500 maintenance bill to clean out. There are additives you can put in to slow it down, but they're expensive which negates the savings by using the biodiesel in the first place. There's also the increased water in your fuel with means you're changing filters more often, particularly on a boat where there's plenty of moisture around to absorb.

Short answer...if you're burning your fuel quickly then it doesn't matter. If it's sitting in your tank idle for very long, you're screwed.
 
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Likes: SailingLoto
Jul 7, 2004
7,130
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
We use so little diesel on the boat it's not worth taking chances on the unknown. I also wonder about growth with long term 'storage' in the tank. I'm not sure if the standard fuel preventatives would still work.
 
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Likes: BigEasy
Feb 14, 2014
4,986
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
I was involved with making Biodiesel 8 years ago.

I would not recommend it for slow consumption in a marine environment.

A byproduct of making Biodiesel and hard to completely separate is...

Glycerine

Glycerine loves to absorb water or humidity from air inside your fuel tank.
Jim...

PS: Use of biodiesel has been shown to reduce maintenance on large diesel engines on the farm and road.:pimp:
PSS: Wet Glycerine will burn in a diesel engine, but I am not using it.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,610
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
We use so little diesel on the boat it's not worth taking chances on the unknown.
No way! Not going to use an unproven product until it is thoroughly tested and utilized. Remember the consequences with ethanol in marine engines? Biodiesel, if it arrives in the market place will likely have the same effect as ethanol; some refiners & farmers may profit, with little to no improvement in the environment.
 
Feb 21, 2011
73
Hunter 410 Lorain
I wouldn't jump in with both feet right away. My first call would be to Great Lake Diesel and listen to what they have to say Having my diesel tank pumped and flushed before switching is also a good idea.
I agree. Jim Zima is the acknowledged expert on diesels around here. If he says NO - then I would have to listen.
 
Aug 22, 2017
1,608
Hunter 26.5 West Palm Beach
From what I have read, there is a process by which you render vegetable oil to make it into bio-diesel. The use of raw vegitable oil is said to cause issues. I know of one person who has two tanks in a truck, one with diesel & one with veggie oil. He starts the engine on diesel, then after it's warm, he switches over to used, filtered vegtable oil to run on, then switches back to diesel for half an hour before shutting the motor down. I don't see that as being worth the hassle & risk on a boat. The last thing I want is fuel system issues while entering an unfamiliar harbor.

My experience with biodiesel is that it swells the seals in the fuel system, then when you switch back to regular diesel, the seals shrink & you have lots of problems. I think that Nitrile or N-Buna was the material that I used for real diesel, but I need to look that back up to double check. Something more exotic was needed for biodiesel. If you commit to one or the other, real diesel or biodiesel can work well. Switching back & forth is not something that I plan to try again.
 
Oct 6, 2007
747
Hunter H30c 1982 Chicago IL
My little Yanmar 2GM has been quite happy with regular diesel for 38 years. I use slightly less than a full tank (12 gallons) of fuel each season. I never let it get below a quarter tank and I top it off in the fall, so there may be decades old traces of fuel in that tank. Switching now to a bio-fuel with apparently questionable, or at least unproven, long term storage characteristics does not seem prudent to me. Plus, I don’t particularly like the smell of French Fry oil.
 
Jun 9, 2008
1,622
- -- -Bayfield
I would absolutely not. Bio-diesel is very susceptible to algae and contamination of your fuel. Most good marinas will not have bio-diesel in their tanks.
 

capta

.
Jun 4, 2009
4,052
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
Another thing I should have brought up is that straight diesel fuel is just kerosene with 4% lubricating oil in it. I have no idea of the lubricity of biodiesel.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,695
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
I'm wondering if anyone here burns waste motor oil after they do an oil change
According to ISO and all engine manufacturers this a very bad idea. There are problems with high ash and contaminants, including chloride. Used oil is better recycled.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,695
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
I was involved with making Biodiesel 8 years ago.

I would not recommend it for slow consumption in a marine environment.

A byproduct of making Biodiesel and hard to completely separate is...

Glycerine

Glycerine loves to absorb water or humidity from air inside your fuel tank.
Jim...

PS: Use of biodiesel has been shown to reduce maintenance on large diesel engines on the farm and road.:pimp:
PSS: Wet Glycerine will burn in a diesel engine, but I am not using it.
Glycerine should be removed from biodiesel in the process. In fact, there is a tight specification on this. By ASTM D6751, there can be no more than 0.02% (200 ppm) free glycerine in biodiesel.

100% biodiesel is fatty acid methyl ester (FAME). Actual biodiesel contains only 5-10% of this, so perhaps 20 ppm glycerine.

Would I use biodiesel in a boat? I'd rather not. But I'm guessing we're going to have to learn to live with it at some blend.
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,239
Columbia 36 Muskegon
According to ISO and all engine manufacturers this a very bad idea. There are problems with high ash and contaminants, including chloride. Used oil is better recycled.
A lot of auto repair shops burn used motor oil for heat. The heaters are designed for it so they work well and they have a lot of it doing thousands of oil changes a year. My nephew owns a shop and I take all my old oil to him.
 
Sep 25, 2008
1,072
CS 30 Toronto
Regular diesel isn't going to break the bank these days. I use $20 a YEAR as I sail most of the time. How much can I save?
 
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Likes: Whatfiero1
Apr 5, 2009
1,286
Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs Oak Harbor, WA
I didn't use it because it was cheep. I paid about double for commercially refined SoyGold B100. I used it because the engine ran cleaner with less smoke, the oil didn't turn black after the first hour, and the exhaust smelled sooooo much better.
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,293
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
Biodiesel and waste vegetable oil (WVO) are two different fuels. A diesel engine will run both but for WVO you usually need to heat it and you need to start and stop on either diesel or biodiesel. There are a few diesel engines that don't care, but most do.

Biodiesel has higher lubricity than regular diesel fuel, in fact it is now used as a lubricity additive in some diesel formulations to add in lubricity that was removed due to the removal of sulfur.

Biodeseil typically has a higher cetane rating than diesel, that's a good thing. Diesel engines tend to run smoother on biodiesel than diesel fuel.

For the marine environment there is the added problem of moisture, it is more hydroscopic than regular diesel so moisture control is a concern.

It is also a better solvent so it will tend to bring the sludge out, so having a clean system is a good idea. It will also dissolve older seals and fuel lines, so one does have that concern. However if you do have compatible lines and seals you can switch back and forth without problems at all. I've done it many times.

I used to make biodiesel, it's kind of fun, buy does need the setup and where I now live I no longer have the space so I don't make it any more, but did run a lot of biodiesel for about a decade in multiple diesels.

It also has a notably higher gel temperature, but that's probably not much of a concern on a boat.

If I were running it in my boat, I would definitely be using additives to avoid moisture and long term storage could pose problems. If I burned enough to have fresh fuel I would have no problem using it in my boat, but with limited usage I'd likely limit it's use in a sailboat.

I would definitely not put in a WVO system on a boat....

dj
 
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Likes: JamesG161
Jan 19, 2010
713
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
What are talking about here, 20 maybe 30 gallons a year? I used 19.7 gals of diesel this season. At $212.9 per gal I'm in it for just under $42.00 ! If there is any savings in Bio-diesel per gal are you willing to chance the savings of a dollar or two against fouling filters at the worst possible moment? And for sure you can get fouled fuel with straight diesel. One needs to weigh how old the engine is and IF Bio-diesel wasn't even thought of when the engine was built. Lubricity of the fuel and injector compatibility are crucial.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,283
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I had bio-heating oil in my home for several years. It was a 20/80 mixture. I had endless problems with the furnace shutting down. The oil company never did fess up but they would come and clean out the lines and replace the filter. I had to be careful going away in the winter so the heat wouldn't shut off. It wasn't until I read this thread that I learned it is likely that micro-organisms were the root cause.
 
Mar 29, 2017
487
Hunter 30t 9805 littlecreek
Several years ago, a guy in the marina used biodiesel kinda made from frying oil from local restaurants.. Every time he went by, the smell of French fries was outstanding !!
The smell would make you hungry all the time

Sailboats use so little fuel best to stay with good quality fuel as to avoid any problems
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,437
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
A lot of auto repair shops burn used motor oil for heat. The heaters are designed for it so they work well and they have a lot of it doing thousands of oil changes a year. My nephew owns a shop and I take all my old oil to him.
I never heard of a heater that could run on straight motor oil. But is there a reason not to dilute used motor oil into a conventional heating oil fuel tank?