Alternative Fuels: Pure Vegetable Oil

With NaturalPower, users can purchase fuel from the local grocer.

During the dawn of the automobile industry, quality petroleum-based fuel was in its infancy, and inventors looked for ways to pull energy from anything from coal dust to shea butter. At the 1900 Paris Exhibition, a small diesel engine was exhibited that ran on peanut oil. Pioneering motorists purchased their gasoline in glass jars from drug stores.

Recently, Italian farm machinery OEM Same Deutz-Fahr introduced a tractor that will allow farmers to buy a portion of their fuel at the grocery store or produce it on the farm.

During the 2008 edition of the biannual EIMA Intl. farm machinery show in Bologna, Italy, Same Deutz-Fahr exhibited NaturalPower, a fuel system that operates on 100% crude rapeseed (Canola for North Americans) oil.

A few years ago the company introduced tractors that would run on B100 biodiesel; NaturalPower takes it a step further. In 2001 Deutz-Fahr participated in a project for 100 tractors sponsored by the German government during which it acquired experience in the use of alternative and effective fuels. Combined with the farmers' growing interest in alternative fuels, this experience formed the basis for using vegetable oil fuels in an extensive fashion, ultimately allowing farmers to produce their own fuel.

NaturalPower was developed by Same Deutz-Fahr, Treviglio, Italy, in cooperation with engine specialist Deutz AG (of which it owns 41.5%) and is in compliance with standard DIN V 51605 (which sets requirements and test methods for fuels for vegetable oil burning engines).

Based on the Deutz-Fahr Agrotron M Series (131-184 hp), NaturalPower uses a patented Deutz Fuel Management system, consisting of a fuel controller incorporated into the engine management and two fuel tanks to keep diesel and straight vegetable oil (SVO) separate.

Because of the different viscosities and physical characteristics of the two fuels, the engines cannot run exclusively on vegetable oil. For cold-starting, short journeys and extended idling periods, conventional diesel fuel is used instead of vegetable oil. When the engine oil temperature reaches a certain temperature, the electronic fuel system switches over to SVO.

Because vegetable oil also has an impact on engine performance, the fuel injection system had to be redesigned, as well. The system on the Deutz 2012 six-cylinder engine uses a high pressure common rail (1,800 bar) with two injection pumps.

At EIMA, the NaturalPower engine was recognized as a Technical Innovation, selected by a committee organized by Rome-based UNACOMA (Italian Assn of Farm Machinery Manufacturers), which sponsors EIMA.