Skip to content

Diesel Engine Powered by Vegetable Oil: an advantage and Sustainable fuel Alternative for the future!

  • Lexicon
  • 4 min read

History behind the oldest known fuel alternative.

The idea of using a vegetable oil as a fuel alternative for the engine appears in the media like a boomerang. The fact that there is something to work on is evidenced by the fact that the first model of a diesel engine, which Rudolf Diesel presented at the exhibition in Paris in 1900, was powered by peanut oil.

Many experiments have been carried out over the years, to determinate effectiveness of this fuel alternative. The Auto Bild editorial team drove a Golf fuelled with filtered fryer oil for 700,000 kilometres. Ford Took this issue even more seriously and officially allows its diesel fuel to run on hydrorefined vegetable oil (HVO).

The HVO fuels as an alternative.

Hydrorefined/hydrogenated vegetable oil is an alternative fuel based on waste, in particular vegetable oils used, among others, in the food industry. According to fuel manufacturer Neste, compared to regular diesel oil, such fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. Additionally, the exhaust systems of cars powered by HVO emit less nitrogen oxides (NOx) than those powered by regular diesel fuel because HVO does not contain sulfur or oxygen.

HVO alternative fuels have a higher cetane number (a measure of combustion quality) than conventional diesel, leading to more efficient combustion.

What are the advantages of bio-diesel fuels?

The HVO is more stable than traditional biodiesel (FAME – Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) and has a longer shelf life, making it suitable for various storage conditions. The overall greenhouse gas emissions from HVO, considering its entire lifecycle, are significantly lower compared to fossil diesel. The HVO alternative fuel can be used as a direct replacement for conventional diesel in most diesel engines without modifications.

Additionally, HVO fuels as one of the fuel alternatives have superior cold flow properties, which means they perform better in low temperatures without the need for additives that are often required for traditional diesel.

Fuel Alternative for Diesel

are there any downsides?

In all the studies conducted over the years, the main focus has been on transportation. The use of vegetable oil as an alternative fuel to the regular diesel engine has highlighted several modifications that would need to be made in order for a vehicle powered by such an alternative fuel to run for as long as possible.

Since the vegetable oil is more viscous than diesel this means the fuel pump must work harder to delver fuel where it’s needed. Additionally, it’s good to control the injectors. Thicker fuel may lead to injectors clogging, but using a diesel injector cleaner products is most often enough. You can learn more about the emission standards here.

Is this the future of fuel alternative?

Vegetable oil is increasingly seen as a promising component of the future of alternative fuels. As traditional fossil fuels face scrutiny for their environmental impact, alternative fuels like Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) are gaining traction. Subsidies and tax breaks play a crucial role in this shift, making alternative fuels more competitive and attractive for producers and consumers.

Additionally, waste oil recycling transforms used cooking oil into valuable biofuels, contributing to a circular economy and reducing waste. With ongoing advancements and supportive policies, vegetable oil-based fuels are poised to become a significant part of the alternative fuels landscape, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on non-renewable resources.


Vegetable oil as a fuel alternative dates back to Rudolf Diesel’s 1900 engine using peanut oil. Modern developments, like HVO fuels, offer significant environmental benefits, including reduced emissions and better performance. Subsidies, tax breaks, and waste oil recycling further support vegetable oil’s potential in the alternative fuels landscape. Click here to learn more about the emission systems.