I am interested in burning either filtered waste vege oil or biodiesel for residential home heating. I have done a lot of searching, and found a bunch of people asking similar questions – but no real answers. I THINK the consensus I’ve seen is that there are no official UL certified residential oil furnaces that can burn waste vege oil or biodiesel (if I’m wrong, please correct).

But even if not UL certified, are there any commercially available furnaces that at least have the proper seals/hoses for WVO and or biodiesel? I definitely care a lot about safety. It just seems like there must be systems out there that can burn WVO without much risk or hassle but I’m having trouble figuring out what to buy.

I too have been searching the postings for a few weeks now, and have more questions than answers. But my biggest problem is with the sticky deposits I feel will almost certainly end up on my heating tubes and lower flue pipes with the wvo. I have 2 cars that run on wvo, and once a month I have to clean the rear of them with tar remover to get the sticky goo off. I can tell I’m not getting complete combustion in the car, and I am sure I won’t in the furnace either. That means a chimney fire is a possibility, and I can’t risk that. The biodiesel is a better option from a fire standpoint, but the production of the biodiesel is expensive, toxic and time consuming. I am fortunate to live in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania, and coal has increased only marginally in price. I have resigned myself to sticking with coal in the short term until these other problems are worked out.

Biodiesel is easy. Up to 20 or 30%, just put it in your tank and burn it. Above about 30%, seals will degrade faster but not usually real quickly. Also, above 30%, you might need a nozzle heater (low wattage, commercially made) if the oil in your tank gets too cold. Waste veggie oil requires home made/modified burners (except possibly the Econoheat boiler/burner). I am still trying to verify operation and UL listing of the Econoheat on WVO. Even their own website has conflicting info.

Normally the reference is cutting with home heating oil or diesel fuel. Commercially made biodiesel blends are almost always cut with diesel due to the lower sulpher. Two year studies done by Brookhaven National Lab of over 100 boilers showed no problems with B20 (20% biodiesel/80% regular diesel) but some problems with B100 (100% biodiesel). No long term tests have ben done with home heating oil/veggy oil in unmodified burners, but I would suspect that you could burn a blend with 10 or 20% without problems if the veggy oil is very well filtered. I would suggest NOT using you regular tank for experimentation.

I am studying vegoil and home heating oil blends on unmodified furnaces testing for viability of blends and effects on furnaces. If anyone would like to join the study, please write to me off list. I will help supply you with secondary tanks for using the Experimental blends, t-ed off your main line so you don’t have to mess with your main tank. So far 10% SVO blends and 15% SVO blends have burned fine and made no difference to the burner and no noticeable change in soot of other accumulations. We will also be testing for blend tolerance on cooler strage temperatures… especially interesting for WVO which might have issues at low temps.

“SVO” does not tell one anything useful. Is the oil pure or hydrogenated, and to what percent. What oil is it: soy, canola, peanut, cottonseed, etc.? This is very important and ignoring the amount of hydrogenated oil and the source of the oil makes the data meaningless. Likewise, “heating oil” does not tell one anything useful. Heating oil comes in many grades, some blend well with veg-oil some do not. If you’re going to do a study, be specific about what you’re doing. Avoid the use of general terms and especially avoid the use of cutsie acronyms which mean entirely different things to different people.