What’s the Difference Between Waste Cooking Oil and Biodiesel?

We’ve all seen the stickers across cars and trucks proudly proclaiming “Powered By Biodiesel”… But are they really? Ask the gear-head who already knows the difference between engines that burn Waste Cooking Oil versus those that burn actual Biodiesel and he’ll tell you the answer is simple.

First, Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine, straight vegetable oil (SVO) or Waste Cooking Oil cannot. That is to say, in order to burn Waste Cooking Oil as fuel, you must first convert the diesel engine itself to do so. The major difference between Waste Cooking Oil (Waste Vegetable Oil – WVO) and Biodiesel is that in order for the plant or animal oil to become Biodiesel, it must first undergo a chemical reaction process known as transesterification. For additional details on how Biodiesel is made, refer to this post here, explaining the making of Biodiesel Cycle and your involvement in the Waste Oil Recycling Process.

While there are a number of descent diesel conversion kits out there, GreaseCar, PlantDrive and Golden Fuel Systems to name a few, Biodiesel is processed in a manner that closely resembles petrodiesel, and hence can burn as fuel in any traditional diesel engine without needing any additional converting.

So, back to the bumper sticker. That late year model car or truck that emits that ever so pleasant french fry scent gives it away! It is most likely burning waste cooking oil (SVO) and not Biodiesel. Due to the advancements in modern diesel engines however, it is not recommended you fill up with your favorite eatery’s cooking oil, without caution. This is due to the viscosity and impurities found in SVO that can gunk up and ultimately damage engine parts.

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