About TurboFroggy Biodiesel

Home Up Cars SVO Filter

(Just to make things clear up front, TurboFroggy Biodiesel isn't my primary job, it is more of an obsessive hobby if anything. I have a full time job working for Microsoft.)

I started using biodiesel in 2000, initially in my 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe 2 Door 6.5L Turbo Diesel.  Then at the end of 2000 along came my wife's new 2001 TDI Beetle.

Where does the name TurboFroggy come from?  It started when I was trying to get an email address with Hotmail that didn't have a bunch of numbers and stuff after it, something unique.  Who wants to be matt234234blahblah, geez.. So after trying a bunch of combinations, I came up with Turbo because I drive a turbo diesel, and Froggy, a nickname my Mom gave me as a child due to my love of playing in the water.  So TurboFroggy it is!

I am try to avoid using any petroleum fuel if at all possible.  I have all cordless electric yard equipment from Black and Decker. (Mower, Trimmer, Blower, etc) I also have an electric chipper shredder which is super cool, made by McCulloch.  I haven't purchased a gallon of gasoline for our own personal use for almost 5 years. (Since we sold my wife's old Honda)

It was apparent that there wasn't enough places that were close enough to my house that had biodiesel for it to be convenient. And between the Tahoe and the Beetle we were going though about 60 gallons or so a month. (way too much for cans along).

I knew I had to get some home storage so I could fuel up at the house.  I purchased a used 265 gallon oval steel home heating oil tank, pump, meter, filter and about 30 feet of hose.  What was cool about this setup is that I could fill both our cars while they were still parked inside the garage!

After I got that setup I started having my biodiesel delivered from Sound Biodiesel. Because I was getting it 265 gallons at a time, I got a pretty good break on it due to the "bulk" amount I was getting it for.

B100 is expensive already, so reducing the costs is an important thing to do. I figured since I was buying this fuel in bulk, had all the equipment, I figured I would give back to the biodiesel community and start selling it from my house to whoever wanted it.  TurboFroggy Biodiesel co-op was born!

I was different than most co-ops, since I already bought the equipment for my own use, plus using the fuel, people didn't have to "buy into" it. I already had the setup ready to go.

Sound Biodiesel got out of the delivery business and sold their tanker truck to Imagine Energy.  I got a few loads of fuel from them, but it was expensive for them to deliver it it to me from Bainbridge Island. Plus it is important to me that the fuel be delivered by a truck that is actually running biodiesel of some flavor or another.. :) I purchased fuel from Mead Biofuels for a while, but it wasn't convenient for them to deliver to me.

When the Fast Fuel B100/B20 pump opened in Lacey I was overjoyed! I bought a 210 gallon truck tank that would fit in the back of my Tahoe, a transfer pump, and hoses etc.  I then used this to haul my own B100.  This worked out well, except for the occasional sloshing of fuel out the lid. (it didn't seal perfectly well).

After word spread, and adding myself to the National Biodiesel and National Renewable Energy websites, the co-op grew. I was getting fuel twice a month in my truck tank, instead of the once a month.  Posts to Fred's TDI Club and to the forums on my favorite site Biodiesel Now brought even more enthusiastic biodiesel users joined in.

I had people from all over coming to get fuel. From as far north as Canada and as far south as Ashland Oregon.

One time during the TDI Club get together, I had 10 TDIs all lined up to get biodiesel. That was truly an awe inspiring site. I ended up caravanning up to the GTG site with them in my wife's TDI Beetle. Really amazing to see so many TDIs all in a biodiesel powered convoy!

I had to increase the amount of fuel I could haul and store at a time.  I got a 14,000 lb trailer and a couple of 275 gallon totes to go on the back of it for a total capacity of 550 gallons.  After a while I was going though that twice a month or more.  I got two more totes on the trailer so I can haul 1100 gallons at a time, whoohoo!!

At the same time I hooked up with the PetroCard in Kent.  They have B100 in bulk, but don't have a pump for public use.  They sell to fleets in B20 and have a B20 pump in Seattle. I was able to make arrangements to pickup 550 gallons at a time on the weekend from them.  Their mechanic would meet me at their "rack", transfer the B100 from their underground tank to a tanker truck with a hose reel, then we would pump it from the tanker to my totes.  That was kind of a PITA for them, so their clever mechanic figured out an adapter to hook right up to their rack. Now this is some serious gallons-per-second action happening now! This is what they fill the big tanker trucks with, that is normally a 5 inch connection necked down to a 1.5 inch hose/nozzle combination. It is truly Jet Powered Fueling. I can fill a 275 gallon tote with that in 3 minutes or less, really amazing. I have to hold the nozzle with both hands!

During the Northwest Biodiesel Forum a couple of weeks ago, I found out about Whole Energy.  They are a local Washington producer of biodiesel.  To my surprise they have a full working plant actually producing ASTM certified fuel that came online around February of this year, WHOOHOO!! Finally ASTM certified biodiesel made right here in Washington State!  Upon talking with them they were eager to meet me in person and deliver fuel to me.  I took my first delivery of 1350 gallons of B100 from them on April 1st, 2005.

Over the last couple of months, I have sold almost 3000 gallons B100, dang, and it keeps growing an growing.

Since I first started all this I have put over 6000 gallons though my meter, and have even sold some whole totes worth of fuel to people who have their own storage at home.

I stopped selling biodiesel once the Green Car Company, The Grange in Issaquah, Laurelhurst and Seaport opened their stations.  I keep about 5 cans of biodiesel in my garage and make the semi-monthly trip to one of these stations.

Update: 1-25-2006

The SVO Saga:

Around March of 2004 I to decided to try the SVO (Straight Vegetable Oil) route with my truck. (See the SVO links on the AboutBiodiesel page.)  There wasn't a kit out there made specifically for my truck and the main problem was getting a tank that fit.  After waiting several months for Frybrid to come up with a tank to fit I decided just to buy another vehicle that I could quickly convert to SVO.  We bought our first Benz in September of 2005 and had a Frybrid SVO kit put on it. I decided on the Frybrid kit because it is by far the most advanced and best designed SVO kit on the market today.  But it isn't the cheapest, I ended up paying more for the Frybrid SVO kit than I did for the car!  We had to come up with a good system to filter the oil, our current system is here . It is a modified version of the Frybrid Still posted on the Frybrid website.  The main thing I have leared about grease (after re-plumbing our filtering system a dozen times) is Hot grease is happy grease.  Filtering must be done at 100'+, and burning it in your engine must be done at 160'+.  One of the most useful tools that I purchased was a no-touch thermometer similar to THIS one.  It is an absolute must to tell if your grease is hot enough. It can test your filtering setup and your SVO kit in your car.

The SVO route isn't for everyone, if you can't change your own fuel filter on the side of the highway you have no business driving a car that is SVO. Stick with biodiesel, believe me, you will be happier in the long run.  However if you have someone who can help you who is mechanically inclined, or you have the proper mechanical skills knowledge then the world of grease is your oyster.. :)   Driving on SVO is defiantly cheap, you get the oil for free, but you will end up spending $100's of dollars on filters, plumbing, pumps, water heaters, fancy thermometers, clothing (oh yes, never trust the grease, it will attack when you least expect it), coveralls, paper towels/rags etc.  Oh and when I mention "don't trust the grease" I mean it.  If you think you can just bring a coupe of 5 gallon containers and try and suck them into your hot water tank in your good work clothes, that is the time that the grease will ATTACK!!  It will end up lashing out right onto your leather coat, your nice white shirt, or your brand new shoes! I have learned the hard way to always put on coveralls and nitrle gloves before playing with the grease.  Gloves and coveralls are also good for working on diesel Mercedes's, as they tend to be oily greasy beasts.  Even checking your oil can end up putting some sort of mystery stain on your nice tan pants.. :(

We struggled for a while getting our filtering setup working properly, but finally came back to the same conclusion, that hot grease is happy grease..  We also had problems with our pump.  It was a crappy "water" pump with hardly any suction.  We upgraded to a pump designed to pump heavy fluids like SVO/WVO made by Redline Pumps. IMHO it is the best SVO pump out there by FAR. It is made in the USA and will prime 10+ feet of hose of really thick SVO.  After adding Grandma's water heater so we could heat the oil up to 140'+ everything started working.  At the moment we are using two spin on type filters made by PetroClear or CimTek.  The first filter is a 10 micron water separator and the second is a 2 micron filter.  We have a coarse screen in our suction line that will catch big chunks of french fries, turkey giblets, mice, opossums, cigarette butts, onion rings, or whatever else decides to make it's way into our grease.

Also be aware that burning SVO in your vehicle is defiantly "experimental". Improperly filtered grease or an improperly designed/installed grease conversion can damage or destroy your engine.  At the minimum it will run like crap, hesitate, stall, no start etc.  Be prepared to be on the side of the road pumping your little priming pump on the side of your injector pump a time or two. (I certainly have).  Even the best designed kits are not perfect, it will take some tweaks to get everything to work properly.  One of the biggest pain's in the ass is the air leak/bubble.  You too will learn that a diesel engine does not work on air..  Solving the air leak problem can be done by tracing down the leak with a clear glass fuel filter housing, or if you can't find it, simply change the system from vacuum to pressure.  Air gets in a lot easier than oil can get out. Once I pressurized my system with a lift pump it almost totally eliminated by air bubble problems.

I have really grown to love burning the grease though. It is such a uplifting freeing feeling to drive on grease.  It is nice to just drive anywhere you want and not have to worry about how much your fuel will cost to go there. Just drive for fun! Drive to Renton to Fry's the up to North Bend to the outlet malls and back again, all without using a dime of fuel!  Take fun trips on the weekends to new and exciting places. It is truly a feeling that makes all the BS of messing with the grease worth it..

I sold the old Benz and bought a 1998 E300D, whoohoo!! It is currently being convereted with a newly designed Frybrid kit with a 28 gallon tank. It is a wonderful car, rides great, looks like a brand new Mercedes except without the brand new Mercedes price.   The old Benz is being shipped to Hawaii to the same group who works with Willie Nelson and Farm Aid. It will be their official vehicle, pretty cool.

Well enough for now, got to get back to work, more to come.