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Thread: The Green Way Up

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    The Green Way Up

    G'day Aulro,

    I'm making my virgin post here after having a couple of people email me interested the Defender I used on an expedition last year called the Green Way Up, thanks for your interest in our expedition; thank you Easo for suggesting I make a post here. During the Green Way Up we drove 12,000 odd kilometres around Aus without filling up at a petrol station; by recycling waste vege oil and animal fat we made approximately 1650L of biodiesel in our portable biodiesel processor to power the defender. Given what we did, I'm assuming that Biofuels is the best forum topic to make this post under - and I'll pass my judgement on the use of biodiesel in TD5 defenders at the end of post....

    Our expedition vehicle was a 2001 TD5 defender 130 which did a stirling job dragging four blokes, all our gear and towing a trailer across every state and territory through some challenging landscape. Previous to the expedition I knew nothing of Land rovers; choice of vehicle was made last minute, about 10 days before expedition departure; chosen for the ample storage space it offered and for ability to fit four blokes - not to mention its off-roading ability and capacity to tow significant load... I'm not going to go into details on specifications, but as an overview she's got:
    upgraded suspension - not sure of the brand sorry, but solid as a rock - next to no sag under significant weight
    upgraded ecu chip - gives amazing power delivery, even more so now (which I'll explain later)
    tub tray with split level and steel cage/canvas cover - gave us an enormous amount of space, which we used every bit of
    hayman rees back bar & towball, steel with two (2) spare mounting points - so bloody solid and survived hell
    extended range fuel tanks; 120L, 66L and 75L which were so valuable - enabled me to build up biodiesel capacity during periods of down time.
    Bull bar - giving thanks for this one - we cleaned up a 40-50kg roo at about 110kph, not a dent on the bull bar, just a smashed out bull bar mounted indicator/parker light. We'd have been looking at a busted intercooler and radiator without the bull bar, would've = game over...
    other extras include; continuous duty air compressor with onboard on/off switch and 7.5L compressed air tank (w pressure switch), cruise control (brilliant!), deep cycle battery and roof racks w basket...

    Sorry If I've bored you with vehicle specs - although I've been advised this is the point of interest on this forum - but about to bore you further...must also explain our processor: a mate an I built a trailer - made from 6mm RHS lengths of aluminium, supported by independent suspension - to house the processor, I'll include more specific info on trailer later.. The processor constitutes two tanks both 150L; one for completing reactions and another for 'washing' the biodiesel; a 240V diesel generator powers the system, waste heat from generator exhaust is used to warm the oil/biodiesel (via two (2) heat exchangers), 240V gear pump, a 0.3 micron microfilter and a heap of various stainless steel valves and T-ports and 20mm PVC connecting hose. To quickly summarise the biodiesel refinement process:
    1. we collect feedstock oil or fat and place it in the reaction tank..
    2. once of sufficient volume, we circulate the fluid through heat exchangers to heat and homogenize
    3. whilst circulating, we titrate the oil - check the acidity (how many fish, chips and peking ducks were cooked in it.) The more acidic the more catalyst is required for reaction. Using titration result, we mix up our reagent fluid in a 20L steel jerry - made of methanol (racing fuel) and drain cleaner (NaOH or KOH)
    4. once the oil has reached about 55C (temp), we add the reagent at 20% of total oil volume and continue circulating for about an hour. The reaction is called transesterification and chemically changes oil/fat into biodiesel (FAME - fatty acid methyl esters) and glycerine.
    5. after reaction we leave the trailer quiescent overnight, the two fluids gravity separate. We then decant off lower fluid layer - the glycerine.
    6. biodiesel is transferred to wash tank where, counterintuitively, we add water. the two fluids are immiscible, they won't mix. We then bubble wash tank contents: by introducing compressed air into the lower water layer, water droplets are rise and fall through the biodiesel layer (attaching themselves to rising bubbles). Any impurities in the biodiesel, mainly spent catalyst, are absorbed into the water. Wash water is subsequently decanted.
    7. biodiesel is dried by pumping compressed air through it whilst at elevated temp, 50 odd degrees - this boils off any remaining water.
    8. finally we microfilter the biodiesel before sending it to the defenders tank. Her name is Sherpa - gonna refer to her (the defender) by name from now on - feels more natural for me...

    That's a very basic overview of refinement - type in biodiesel into google to find a whole world of info on making biodiesel. In a nutshell, any waste vege oil or animal fat can be used...

    Let me get into some expedition highlights... Just to set up context: we embarked on this expedition completely unprepared and underfunded, but also with a film crew following us documenting every step of the way (the series is currently airing on Nat Geo Adventure channel - titled the Aussie Way Up). The biggest problem with making our biodiesel on the road turned out to the film crew - they imposed a ridiculous schedule we had to follow, averaging about 220km/day; thus requiring approx 32L of biodiesel per day.... As you can imagine, thoroughly completing the refinement steps above takes time - and quality biodiesel fuel requires thorough processing... Anyway, before I get to problems, lets review highlights:
    1. Sherpa towed us 4 boys and our biodiesel boat, and our gear, and two motorbikes, and a heap of camera gear, and a heap of gear on the roof racks, and.... and she weighed in at a public weigh bridge at 7.2 tonnes gross! I was amazed, under these conditions she'd dragged us from Syd to Hobart return averaging 14-15L/100km. Whats more, even at this weight she didn't have a problem with towing at 110kph. Having been a toyota man my whole life I was amazed what the 2.5L land rover TD5 motor was capable of. I'm sure Dad's 4.2L cruiser would have struggled under those conditions....
    2. Sherpa towed us and processor trailer through Simpson desert - no dramas..
    3. Across the hellish highway that is the Tanami track. hundreds of kilometres of knee high corrugations... the only breakage was one rear disk brake guard which rattled off (and of course my biodiesel which completely emulsified w water - but that's another story)
    4. We powered sherpa on converted animal fat on several occasions - a memorable one was from waste camel fat sourced from an abattoir on Tanami track - exhaust bloody stank!
    5. Across the gibb river road a week after it reopens post wet season flooding. Through 1.5m deep rivers no dramas...

    Just to repeat myself, you can see all of this with your own eyes on Nat Geo... The vehicle did an amazing job, right up until we reached the end of the Gibb River road (episode 10 or 11 - I forget), where we came to a halt - terminal halt... At the time, sherpa copped all the blame - and this, unfortunately for land rover, translated into the TV series...

    Excuse my long winded explanation, but with hindsight I've been able to look back and piece together exactly what went wrong:
    1. Days earlier we run out of fuel; episode 9 or 10, we were at Leopold station and there was a chopper there, producer somehow convinced the pilot to take up a cameraman for free to get some aerial shots - right at sunset. Even though we were running on fumes, it was an offer we couldn't refuse, so off we went. After travelling about 2km Sherpa konks out just before a river crossing. Thinking I could make it through with momentum I went for it - the river slowed us up instantly and we were stuck right in the middle, no fuel. There's a great shot of this from the helicopter - looks completely staged.. So with the heat on me, chopper in the air w cameraman, I grabbed the billy can and scooped out unfiltered bio 2L at a time and filled the tank with about 6L... bled the system and off we went.
    2. Three odd days later we pull into El Questro near the end of gibb river road (kimbereley). Saturday night, everyone jumps out and heads straight to the pub - I head off to go and park the car in our camping spot. Wouldn't believe it, but sherpa ran out on fuel again about 20m short of our designated position - so we just camped where she lay...
    3. I started filtering fuel, battery driven 12V pump circulated it through the microfilter and into fuel tank. With a deep cycle battery she could pump for a good 10 hours no worries - so that gave the tank a good 30-40 litres whilst I drank too many beers. (by that stage I'd changed the 240V pump to a 12V pump in the name of noise pollution - generator just screamed)..
    4. next day bled the system and we took off. Made it about 3km until sherpa revs started dying, power lowering and eventually stopping. That's where it all stopped...

    So my theory formulated with hindsight: running out of fuel first time resulted in unfiltered fuel going in tank, running out of fuel second time meant all the gunk and **** got sucked into the fuel system in the last 50-100mL of fuel delivery... I've attached a fuel diagram of the TD5 (which I'm sure you've all seen - I modified it for another doc); turns out there's a hidden copper gauze filter in fuel pressure regulator - no mechanic seems to know about this. No one. We had four mechanics look over it independently, two land rover specialists, none of them pointed the finger at this fuel pressure regulator... So at the time, a failure of the ECU was blamed for Sherpa dying. Bloody hindsight - if I knew then what I know now...we'd have been on the edge of the road for no more than 30mins... Turns out we had to tow Sherpa, by snatch strap, about 1300kms into Darwin to finish the expedition. We drained her fuel tank, hired a diesel pajero, drained it's fuel tank and ran it on bio all the way to darwin. Coppers didn't bat an eyelid too - surprising given that we were towing a vehicle with trailer down the stuart highway by snatch strap... Gotta love territorians!

    When we got to Darwin it took the Land Rover dealership 3.5 weeks to find the blockage in fuel pressure regulator. Another Territorian good bloke story: total charge came in at $3000 odd - after telling them it'd be 2020 by the time they saw the money, they let me sweep floors and make coffees for two weeks in return for dropping all labour charges. Total then came in at $660.

    I've still got Sherpa, unfortunately dramas continued post expedition. When driving back from Darwin late last year she started losing power on me; but long story short she made it to Sydney. After running normal diesel for 17000 kms after Green Way Up completion she somehow lost compression in one cylinder: needed a new motor. Mechanic quoted me $9500! Again, unaffordable for me. Desperate times desperate measures: I took a gamble and bought a TD5 motor with 190,000kms on it from ebay england for $1240 bucks and shipped it over for $600. Towed sherpa out to the farm and 3 months later when the motor arrived put it in myself. Before when I mentioned the ECU chip upgrade gives good power..this motor is unbelievable! Pulls sherpa up any hill in 5th going a mere 50kph - incredible torque. Went to the RTA and changed over the engine numbers, no dramas - put a replacement motor in for about $2500. Big shout out to Richard from Ayers Automotive in Brookvale Sydney - gave me tremendous support via phone, brilliant Land Rover mechanic; had an answer for every question... Thanks Richard.

    Before putting in replacement motor I cleaned out each fuel tank; so Sherpa is now completely wiped clean of a history running biodiesel... To pass judgment on biodiesel; I would say it's absolutely possible, but for a TD5 motor you'd be dancing with danger. Given the high tech motor design/operation, and small tolerances, you've got minimal margin for error to work with. If you pour a dodgy batch of biodiesel into your tank you run the risk of damage - particularly given the extreme injection pressures. We were filtering our bio to 0.3 microns which, I believe, was the sole reason we were able to make it so far... (microfilter from steri-flow in SA for those who want one...) Older motors on biodiesel, I'd say go for it - converting vege can save you a fortune, costing about 27c/L. For really old vehicles/engines, I'd say just run straight waste vege oil to save the hassle of conversion (BUT DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST!)

    For photos of expedition and sherpa I'd suggest our facebook page as the best place... in Facebook search 'The Green Way Up'

    I've now been forced to sell Sherpa - it's time I pay off my credit card! If anyone is interested (or if you know anyone interested) do contact me.. Great car with a great history (and fame in 123 countries!)

    See her here. I hope that link works - first time posting.... otherwise check out - she's listed for $19900.

    If anyone wants more info on the expedition or vehicle I'd be happy to answer - will keep an eye on this forum post. Also, we're looking for sponsors for our second leg of the expedition; Darwin to Mumbai. We're offering significant exposure & audience for supporters - please get in touch if you can make any suggestions on or contacts for companies/brands...


    More on the trailer attached for those interested - not written specific for aulro, just an extract from another doc I've previously put together....
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Sunny Pucka
    Thanks Bob, sorry about all the annoying e-mails and inappropriate photos.

    Still enjoying the TV series on Nat-Geo, highly recommend it to others. Sorry to hear about Sherpa having to be sold.

    Good luck with the next leg of the journey.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    G'day Bob,
    Interesting journey there,I don'tknow what you did,but my T5 has been running on B100 for over 6 years and only gets better !.I have been making Bio for over 15 yrs and have learn't alot since I started,first of all ,single cracking does not make suitable fuel for new engines as the reaction reaches " equalibrium" and only reacts about 75% of the feedstock,that means 25% is still raw oil.. not good for newer donks. The fuel must be made by "two-stage" cracking ,which pushes the reaction all the way to the right and concverts all the oil. Also bubble washing does not produce good results as the dirty and airated water is recycled through the fuel, and as the fuel already contains oxygen, too much cause rapid oxidation which release a red slime ,I stopped centrafuging my fuel due to this problem!!not being a smart a@#se,but you learn a thing or two in a couple of decades. Also fuel filters can be a problem if they are not compatible ,as aftermarket filters contain plastics which break down and release plastisers which stick injectors and fuel pumps.
    Making fuel on the run as you did poses many more challenges and i applaud you for giving it a go

    Good luck with your next venture!
    Cheers Gregg

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    I watched the show and was impressed all the way through.

    You made mention of the schedule the camera people put you through - in some places during the show it is a bit noticeable. However the overall impression I took away from the show was the fact the 4 young blokes with a cobbled-together converter in a Landy were undertaking the trip of a lifetime - and I was bloody jealous!

    It's sad to hear the Landy is up for sale - good luck though - and all the best for the next leg.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    In my D2a Ripping It Up
    Thread Resurrection
    I must have missed this post but looking on Net Flix last night for other stuff i found the series .
    Absolutely Brilliant and funny in my opinion
    4 guy`s a dream of driving to Norway with out stopping at a servo or buying fuel just using bio diesel in td5 130 .
    cheers chris

    My Toy 04 D2a Td5 Manual With Lots of Goodie Goodness
    S111 Swb a work in progress

    Two Wheel Fun Factor
    Triumph Sprint St 955i
    Bultaco Tss 250
    Moto Guzzi 650

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    I believe this trip is on Netflix

    edit, whoops, already posted

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Ormeau, Gold Coast,Queensland
    the td5 was designed to , and will run on almost any combustible fluid.

    if the fuel gets through the filters to the injectors the engine will run.

    if the fuel has 'lumps' of rubbish in it , it will clog the filters, there is also a filter mesh on the fuel pump itself.

    the system is designed to run in continuous circulation with a constant pressure of 75psi (I think that's right) with each injector operating independently off a cam.

    if the fuel pressure is reduced (blocked screen in FPR) due to filters being being blocked or partially blocked then the system will start to break down and the engine will lose power.

    I had 370,000 odd km on my td5 when I sold it , which ran an assortment of fuels throughout its life , 2 stroke added to nearly every fill, and it never put a foot wrong, only head gasket, several FPR problems easily solved and a couple of fuel pumps.

    for any keen td5 owners with a couple of hours spare time , I'd suggest you pop your fuel pump out...not a hard job....check and clean the mesh filter on the pump base....I'll bet it has globules of rubbish all over it.....if you havent done so already. All fuel pump procedures are well documented and photographed on this forum.

    I wish I had a td5 in my ranger. It's a better engine than the puma.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    That's a fascinating story, thanks for sharing it. I'l look for the show.
    2009 Defender 110 2.4. ARB bulbar, Ironman winch, Safari snorkel, Steinbauer chip, AP HD clutch, Lightforce spots, larger tank, Off Road Systems drawer, Traxide 160 controller, Tekonsha brakes, Mulgo seat runners, Uniden UHF, Nuggetstuff seat corners, breathers, Polaris GPS.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Found some of it. Very funny. Looking for more.
    2009 Defender 110 2.4. ARB bulbar, Ironman winch, Safari snorkel, Steinbauer chip, AP HD clutch, Lightforce spots, larger tank, Off Road Systems drawer, Traxide 160 controller, Tekonsha brakes, Mulgo seat runners, Uniden UHF, Nuggetstuff seat corners, breathers, Polaris GPS.



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