Using Biodiesel & Vegetable Oil As RV Fuel

by Curtis

Fulltime RVing, Gas And Diesel Fuel, Green RVing

biodiesel-fuel-tank-by-rrelam.jpgIn today’s society, most of us are becoming more and more aware of things that are “green” and trying to find ways to modify our habits that will help to lessen our dependency on foreign oil — and maybe make a difference in the quality of life as well.

If your RV or tow vehicle happens to be powered by a diesel engine, one step in the right direction would be to make an effort to find and use biodiesel or vegetable oil as fuel.

Here’s what you need to know…


How To Use Biodiesel Fuel

Biodiesel is diesel fuel blended with natural oils that are found in a variety of plants.

Soybeans are one of the more popular crops used to create biodiesel fuel these days.

The beauty of biodiesel is the fact that your motorhome or tow vehicle requires no modifications to operate on biodiesel.  All the work has been done for you during processing.

Just like regular diesel fuel, when you’re driving through northern areas in the winter months, you will find it as a blended fuel.  As with #2 diesel, it will gel in cold weather.  By making sure that you maintain a blend of 20% biodiesel to 80% #1 diesel, you will avoid fuel problems while still helping to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Stations in cold parts of the country will usually offer this blended fuel straight out of the pump during winter months, so you need not worry about getting the mix right.

carls-corner-truck-stop-by-mark-a-miller.jpgAlthough biodiesel isn’t yet available everywhere, many places located along major highways will carry the fuel.

If you’re traveling in Texas look for Carl’s Corner (located on I-35 at exit 374).  This truck stop owned by singer Willie Nelson’s long time friend Carl Cornelius.  Together, they’ve partnered in biodiesel manufacturing in a big way.  Willie operates his tour bus strictly on biodiesel and is a strong supporter of traveling in an environmentally friendly way.

See where you can get biodiesel using the Alternative Fueling Station Locator.


How To Use Vegetable Oil As Fuel

If you want to make the most of running your RV on vegetable oil, many diesel engines can be easily modified to run on straight vegetable oil.

  • You would simply collect waste fryer oil from restaurants, run it through a series of filters to remove impurities, and then send it to a second fuel tank on your vehicle.
  • Next, you would start the engine on regular diesel fuel, and after it has come up to normal operating temperature, you just flip a switch and run off straight vegetable oil from the second tank.
  • While your engine is coming to temperature, the heat of the engine is used to heat the tank of vegetable oil, thinning it to the point that it will flow through the fuel system.

It’s a bit of messing around and requires a limited amount of expertise, but if running your RV on free or very low cost fuel sounds interesting to you, then you’ll be happy to know that vegetable oil conversion kits are available now for many vehicles.

Check out Fulltime RVing in a Vegetable Powered RV.

Making the effort to “go green” is something we all need to take seriously.  Whether you use biodiesel to fuel your RV or vegetable oil as fuel in your RV, these are both great ways to be environmentally friendly as RVers.

To protect our environment and the future generations coming behind us, we should be doing whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint.  It’s the right thing to do.