Over the years we’ve been asked several times if Biodiesel can burn in an air fired kerosene heater. The quick answer is yes. The long answer is, we weren’t sure exactly how to do it successfully, but we knew it could be done.
We get the question from time to time because one of the first videos we ever put up on our YouTube Channel was of a force air kerosene heater burning Biodiesel that we posted in 2008.
The guy’s at AGR Energy (Now Springboard Biodiesel) were the ones that I shot the video of and it’s generated questions ever since. We remember it burning the biodiesel, but we never wrote down exactly what it took to do it.
One of our awesome customers, Bill Oeming, who is a research technician at the Great Lakes Fisheries in Harbor Springs, Michigan, decided to figure out just what it takes to get one of these sweet heaters to burn properly on Biodiesel.
He added some Biodiesel that he made to the heater and began experimenting. What he noticed immediately is that the Biodiesel burns a little slower than Kerosene and if the heater is run with the fan on full blast, the Biodiesel doesn’t burn very efficiently.
What he found was that with the reduced air flow the heater burned the Biodiesel much better! It generated a hotter flame, fully burned the fuel, and operated at the same level of output that it did with Kerosene.
He called us with the exciting news and when we asked if he’d be willing to send in details on how he accomplished it, he was gracious enough to not only send in the pictures you see above but also shot this awesome video of the heater in action!
If you decide to give this a try, here’s some additional helpful information Bill shared:
1. Our PSI setting on the back of the heater was set to about 4 PSI.
2. We covered the air intake about 75% with the can.
3: If you set the PSI too low, below 3 PSI, the pressure will not be high enough to ensure proper burning of the B100. By the same token, if you cover the back of the air intake TOO MUCH for too long, the fan will overheat and the heater’s sensor’s will automatically shut the heater off. You do NOT want this to happen regularly.
** The two main take home points of this video are if you burn B100 in a heater like this, you want to 1, make sure your PSI is at the correct level, and 2, you want to make sure you cover the air intake well enough, so the AIR SPEED is slow enough to ensure complete combustion of the B100, i.e the fan isn’t going too fast so that it’s blowing unburned B100 out of the end of the heater, WITHOUT limiting the airflow to a low enough point/speed where the unit, particularly the fan motor overheats.
So, if you’d like to burn Biodiesel in a force air oil-fired heater, now you know how to do it!
Since we first heard of this, Bill’s been having issues with the unit burning the fuel all the way. The fan motor seems to be wearing out because of the added stress of the rear air flow being restricted and the fuel doesn’t seem to completely combust in the unit.
If the air flow isn’t restricted, the unit unit will still burn Biodiesel, but it tends to build up unburned biodiesel that can begin to drip out of the front of the unit making a mess everywhere. It
More updates as we hear.