Bio Fuels

BioFuels are made from plants or manure, and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing the dependence on imported oil and all the turmoil that seems to come with the imports.


Page Directory:

Information on making and using  BioDiesel, Vegetable Oil, and Ethanol as a replacement for petroleum fuels in vehicles:

Information on burning bio-fuels  such as wood, corn and methane as fuels for heating, cooking, power generation, and other uses:

Report Broken Links ...



Alternate Fuel References/Guides
EERE  Alternative Fuels Data Center


The EERE's alternative fuels site.  A wealth of information on alternative fuels: properties, incentive programs, models, infrastructure...

Getting Started Making Biodiesel,
Graydon Blair, ESSN, Nov 2005


Graydon Blair

Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter

In the Nov 2005 issue 

Good article on how the process of making biodiesel fuel works.  An easy to understand explanation of the chemistry involved and the processes used to go from vegetable oil to biodiesel.

A good starting point.

Mike Pelly's biodiesel method

Which is part of the Journey to Forever site:

Nice clear explanation of how to make biodiesel, and some of the chemistry behind it.

The Journey To Forever site is very interesting, with a good collection of information on biofuels and many other fine projects.

The BioDiesel Community


A good site for getting started with BioDiesel.  Lots of free tutorials, equipment building, etc.

How-to on making the Appleseed Biodiesel processor.

Some good links to other Bio Fuel resources.

Homebrew Biodiesel and Biodiesel Equipment Building Classes,
Maria 'Mark' Alovert



Classes and a biodiesel guide book from the inventor of the Appleseed biodiesel processor described just above.
The New B100-WH Biodiesel Reactor


Quite a detailed how-to on making biodiesel from fryer oil (vegetable oil).

Lots of detail.

Green Myth-Busting: Biodiesel,
Clayton Bodie Cornell  -- From Green Options


A good and detailed article dispelling some of the myths surrounding biodiesel fuel.
Getting Off the Petroleum Grid with BioDiesel

Scott Durkee

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine -- Issue 93.

Good how to article on making biodiesel.

Utah Biodiesel Supply


Some good good detailed tutorials on biodiesel, including a series of videos and pages on everything from biodiesel chemistry to making biodiesel.

There is some obvious commercial slant to the videos, but also lots of good and helpful information.

(Thanks to Karen for suggesting this)

Bozeman Bio-Fuel



This is the site run by Paul, our own Bozeman biodiesel powerhouse.  Helpful information on biodiesel, EV's, and conservation.

Paul even offers a renewable energy cottage to rent while visiting the Bozeman/Yellowstone area.
Vegetable Oil (WVO)
Frybrid -- Vegetable Oil for fuel


Much Vege Oil Conversion Info:

This site has a wealth of information on conversion of diesel vehicles to run on straight vegetable oil.

The site also hosts a very active discussion forum on vegetable oil for fuel, conversions, etc.

VW Jetta Conversion to Vegetable Oil



Jeff describes his conversion of a 1998 VW Jetta Diesel to burn straight vegetable oil.  VERY detailed.


Thank you Jeff!

Heating with veggie oil,
Posted on the forum

Details ...

A posting on explaining how the poster uses veggie oil and other oils to heat his home.
Generating Power From a Lister Engine using Vegetable Oil


A project in work to generate electricity and heat from a Lister diesel engine using waste vegetable oil as fuel.
Source for Lister Type Diesels

Central Maine Diesel ...


One source for Lister type diesels in Maine.

Information on powering generators and running on vegetable oil.

(Thanks to mark for finding this)

How do BioDiesel and straight vegetable oil compare?



There is a bit of a controversy between the BioDiesel folks and the WVO folks.  Here is one assessment from Journey To Forever:

If you know of other good and factual material on this area, please let me know: Gary

Making Veggie Oil

They're Doubling The Value Of Their Soybean Crop, Walder Mfg.
From Farm Show Magazine, volume 30, issue 5, 2006


Fairly good description of a farmer made press that extracts about 1 gallon of oil per bushel of soy beans, and leaves a high quality protein meal.  The system uses two presses to get a better oil yield and higher quality meal.  From Farm Show Magazine
Making Ethanol
Corn to Ethanol a bad idea?

Cars and People Compete for Grain...


There appears to be a consensus emerging that the large scale use of corn to make ethanol for motor fuel is a bad idea because: 1) the energy balance is poor -- that is, the energy you get out of the corn based ethanol is little more than the fossil fuel energy that went into making the ethanol, and 2) the use of corn to produce ethanol puts it in competition with petroleum, and results in price increases in corn when petroleum goes up.
Make Your Own Fuel


A wealth of information on all aspects of making and using Ethanol (alcohol) as motor fuel. 
The Manual for the home and farm production of Alcohol Fuel,
Stephen Mathewson, 1980

manual for alcohol fuelThis 1980 book has a lot of hand on information about making alcohol fuel, alcohol fuel theory, modifying engines to run on alcohol fuel, and making fermentation equipment.

202 pages, 1980.

Out of print, but available at Amazon and the like used books (if you hurry).
Ethanol as a fuel


An assessment of Ethanol as a fuel for vehicles from Journey To Forever.
Making Methane

Picture from Auto Blog Green ...  -- a great green auto news site.

Utilizing Natural Design Parameters
for Methane Digesters, Al Rutan

Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter


Article in ESSN Newsletter by Al Rutan covering the basics of methane generation with information on a small scale methane generator.  The ESSN has carried a number of good articles on bio-fuels.
While ESSN is no longer published, all of the issues are still available as a free download.
Collection of Methane Articles
Home Power Magazine, issue 26

Al Rutan, the Methane Man

Search the Home Power article archive for issues 26, 27, 28, 30, and 40, and order them.

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Some of this material may be available here:

More from Al Rutan.  Home Power Magazine articles, Issues 26, 27, 28, 30, and 40.
A very good collection of articles from Home Power by Al Rutan.   


Cows Power Plan for Alternative Fuel,
USA Today



Dairy farm uses cow manure to make methane that power a generator producing electricity to sell to grid.

Reduces green house gas emissions, provides some added income, and "green" electric power.
Building a Poly Bio Digester,
University of Adelaide


The University of Adelaide has a lot of hands-on material on generating and using biogas, including very detailed plans for making an inexpensive poly bag digester to produce methane.
(Thanks to Dave for suggesting this)
Turning Waste Into Fuel -- Methane Biodigester Basics, Ilan Adler

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, Issue 116.
Good practical article on how designing biodigesters that produce methane fuel.  Details on how to build a simple one from poly tubing.
Anaerobic Digestion: Biogas Production and
Odor Reduction from Manure

Jeannie Leggett, Extension Assistant
Robert E. Graves, Professor of Agricultural Engineering
Les E. Lanyon, Associate Professor of Soil Fertility
Penn State Agricultural Extension

Full Paper (85K pdf)

An overview of methane production from manure on farms.  Covers how it works and the major issues involved.
Methane Generator Calculator

From Biorealis Systems

A calculator to estimate methane production based on various organic materials inputs.
Biorealis Methane Generator

From Biorealis Systems



Complete plans for a small methane generator.
Small Biogas Plant Plans

Nepal Biogas Plant -- Construction Manual

Another farm size biogas plant with full construction plans.
3 - Cubic Meter BIOgas Plane -- A Construction Manual

VITA -- Volunteers in Technical Assistance

Full Plans

Very interesting paper on making a family scale BIO gas plant that produces methane from manure.

Lots of detail on the design, construction and operation.

How to Build a 100 cu. ft./day Methane Gas Plant,
Mother Earth News, November, 1971

Finding Mother Earth News articles...


Fairly detailed instructionfs for building a 100 cubic ft per day that runs on 100 lbs of manure.
How to Generate Power from Garbage,
By the Mother Earth News editors,

Mother Earth News, May 1970

Finding Mother Earth News articles...


Building and operating methane producing digesters fueled by manure.
Methane Generation in China

Mother Earth News

Finding Mother Earth News articles...


Interesting article from 1981 Mother Earth News on the use of home scale methane generators in China. 

Wonder what the story on this today is?

The  Marvelous Chicken-Powered Car

Barry Grindrod



Article on converting a gas IC engine car to run on methane that was produced from chicken and pig manure.
The article is fairly detailed, and the car has been running for years.

Other useful methane generation and use information here:

Wood Gas for Internal Combustion Engines

Please be careful!! -- There is a Carbon Monoxide poisoning hazard with all wood gasifiers

Wood Gas as Engine Fuel -- Design Manual

Food and Agriculture Organization -- UN
paper 72



A very complete 1986 design manual for wood gas generators to run IC engines.  Includes design, construction, and operating experiences for a number of types of wood gas generator applications.

Both vehicle and fixed applications are covered.


Plans for a Wood Gas Generator to Power IC engines


Very complete set of plans for building a wood gas generator.  The gas produced by this generator can be used to power internal combustion engines.

A picture of it

WARNING -- One of the components of wood gas fuel is Carbon Monoxide -- a highly poisonous gas. 

Alternatives To Fossil Fueled Engine/Generators

Clifford W. Mossberg

How to get articles from Home Power ...



Home Power article in issue 21 covering how to produce wood gas, and how to use it as a fuel to power internal combustion engines.

Dr TLUD site...




The Resources section of the TLUD site provides an extensive list of resources for wood gas burning stoves and engines.

The Gas Producer - Science and Construction


Some material on constructing and using a trailer mounted wood gas generator to power a car.
Drive On Wood!
Wayne Keith's Woodgas Site
woodgas vehiclesThis is Wayne Keith's very active site on woodgas powered vehicles. 

There is a forum, an extensive resources section, and rundowns on many woodgas projects, as well as plans both for sale and free.

Some Interesting Wood Gas Generator Experiments

Preheated air gasifier: ...

GMC Truck:

Some interesting experiments on various kinds of wood gas generators made from various materials.

All Power also offers various levels of kits for building their gasifiers as well as detailed free downloadable plans.

There is also a Wiki and a User Forum -- so much stuff its a little hard to keep it all straight, but lots of interesting stuff.

(thanks to Les for sending this in)

Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank,
Low-tech Magazine, January 18, 2010

wood gas powered carsQuite a collection of wood gas powered cars spanning many years and with a history narrative.

Wood Burning & Masonry Heaters



Very extensive collection of articles, FAQ's, and a searchable data base of questions and answers. 
Heating With Wood Safely and Efficiently,
Alex Wilson,
wood stoveA good and quick overview of the main things in using wood burning heaters with minimal pollution and good safety.

Alliance For Green Heat...


greenhouse gas emissions wood stovesA good site for factual information on wood burning devices including efficiency and emissions.

A good place to look before you choose what kind of wood burning applicance to go with.

Wood For Home Heating,
FNR-79, Purdue University

Residential Wood Stove Installation,
FNR-100, Purdue University

Lots of good information on wood burning.  Heating value compared to other fuels, payback, wood burning and cutting hints.

Installing wood stoves.
Design, Construction and Performance of Stick-Wood Fired Furnace For Residential and Small Commercial Application, 
Richard C. Hill, University of Maine, 1977

Download this paper here: furnace.html


A research paper on the development of a fairly simple, clean burning, efficient wood furnace.

Quite a bit of good practical experimental work and measurements leading to this furnace design, as well as a number of variations that did not work and why.
The design shown is a water heating furnace.

(Thanks to Tom for suggesting this)

Masonry Heater Association of North America



A great site for learning about and building Masonry Heaters.  Information, pictures, plans, newsletter, ...

Note that the "bookstore" at MHA offers detailed plans for 5 masonry heater designs that they have built and tested.

A good sequence of pictures on how a Masonry Heater goes together....
Masonry heaters work well for heating well designed homes -- they burn hot a clean for a relatively short time, and store the heat in the mass of the heater for slow release over the day.

Masonry Stove Builders

Construction and planning info:

Helpful doc:

Quite a bit of construction information on masonry stoves and ovens.  The "gallery" pictures are good.

Hybrid Masonry Stove from GeoPathfinder...



"we used a style common in Germany, the hybrid masonry stove. It uses a steel or cast iron stove for the firebox but wraps masonry around the metal on 4 or 5 sides, excluding the loading door and, optionally, a cook-top. We added a large masonry chamber behind the stove to allow flue gases to circulate through some extra mass, boosting the total masonry weight to 2 tons."
Masonry Heaters from Gimmie Shelter



Gimmie Shelter is a Wisconsin home builder that often includes masonry heaters in their homes.

Their website section on masonry heaters provides a lot of good detail on masonry heaters, including a pretty detailed construction series.  Lots of examples of heaters they have dome -- some works of art.

Masonry Heaters: Planning Guide for Architects, Home Designers and Builders, Alex Chernov

MH heaterA good guide for designing and sizing masonry heaters.

Lots of good detail on detail on designing, building and locating the MH. Also covers heat output from an MH and how to size the heat output to your home.


Doug's Masonry Stove ...


This is Doug Kalmer's version of the traditional masonry stove.  Doug constructed this massive and beautiful stove (along with the rest of his house).

It provides many of the advantages of the traditional masonry stove with less somewhat less mass, cost, and labor.

See all of Doug's solar projects ...

Building a Tiled Masonry Heater,
Vladimir Popovac,
Fine Homebuilding, January 1992

How to get articles from Fine Homebuilding ...

A nice and detailed Fine Homebuilding article on designing and building a masonry heater.

These heaters provide a very clean (hot) burn and the masonry retains heat and radiates to the room for hours.

Improving the Efficiency of an Older Wood Burner -- Retrofitting secondary combustion and a Catalytic Combustor


All the details...

Scott gives the details on how he retrofitted both an airsupply for a secondary combustion area and also how he added a catalytic combustor to his 1981 wood burner.
He also goes over a simple way to measure wood burner efficiency and the before and after measurements -- which lead to a substantial improvement in efficiency.
All the details...
Rocket Stove Mass Heaters


Building Rocket Stove Mass Heaters...


Some hands on material on efficient and simple rocket stove mass heaters on the site.
Two Rocket Stoves from RootSimple

The backyard brick version...

The portable version from a 5 gallon bucket...
rocket stove from RootSimple.comTwo easy to build rocket stoves from the site.   brick rocket stove from
The stoves appear to work well, and both have good build instructions. has a ton of other  interesting material.
Sawdust Burning Heater

Mother Earth News

Finding Mother Earth News articles...



Plans for a sawdust burning heater from the Mother Earth News archives. 

Cautionary feedback on the sawdust heater: - feedback

Outdoor Wood Furnaces ...

Finding Mother Earth News articles...


Outdoor Wood Furnaces burn wood in a furnace located in a separate enclosure away from the house.  They heat water, which is piped to the house for space heating.

Its an appealing concept, but unfortunately the current generation of these furnaces are half as efficient and 20 times more polluting than certified indoor woodstoves.

There is some effort underway to offer cleaner versions.  So, if you are interested in one these, do your homework on certified versions, and think about impacts on your neighbors.
BioMass Cooking Stoves



"This site exists to help people develop better stoves for cooking with biomass fuels in developing regions"

Especially good section on efficient stove design.

Woodstoves for Tub Heating (or for heating thermal storage tank?)

Chofu: supplier (one of many): Earth News article:

Mother Earth News article: Wood-fired Hot Tub, Stocking

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

pdf describing the Chofu...

Snorkel and Scuba Underwater Woodstoves:


Chofu: This is a simple, wood fired heater for soaking tubs. 
It uses a simple thermosyphon system to circulate heated water (no pumps, no electricity).  The full stainless steel case is a water jacket for efficient heat transfer.

Snorkel & Scuba: These wood stoves for heating tubs actually live in the tub water, so heat transfer is directly from the stove walls to the water.

It seems like this might be a simple, and greenhouse gas friendly  way to add heat to a solar heat storage tank when there is not enough sun?

Woodstove Water Heating Coils
A metal pipe loop or coil can be placed in the firebox of most woodstove and connected to a water storage tank to provide "free" hot water.  "Free" is always nice, but the main thing to keep in mind for these systems safety.  Steam explosions are literally like a bomb -- they can be deadly.  Its very very important to do these installations safely.  I strongly recommend the "Hot Water From Your Woodstove" booklet listed just below not only because it provides good information on designing and sizing a system, but also because it covers what you need to do for a safe installation.
Hot Water From Your Woodstove

Go to the Lehman's website for the title "Hot Water From Your Woodstove"

This is a 45 page booklet available from Lehman's that covers heating domestic water using a coil in your wood stove firebox.

It has quite a bit of detail on both thermosyphon and pumped systems, including a lot of advice on troubleshooting and adjustments when things don't work quite right on the first try.  It also has a lot of emphasis on safety, which is very important for these systems.

Heating Water With a Wood Stove


This excellent article on domestic water heating with a wood stove provides descriptions of several good systems, and covers the features a good system should have.

It also provides safety information which is MANDATORY READING for anyone adding water heating to a wood stove.
Preheating water with a Wood Stove


A similar arrangement from Mother Earth News: Build a Woodstove Water-Heating Attachment
Finding Mother Earth News articles... 

A design for a system to preheat water with your wood stove that does not require major surgery on the wood stove.

Be sure to read the material on safety in the article above -- especially on placement of valves and pressure relief.  There should be a pressure/temperature relief valve mounted in the line closer to the stove.
Water Heating Heat Exchanger Coils for Wood Stoves


One source for coils that can be placed inside a wood stove firebox to heat water.

Be sure to read the article just above on how to do this safely.

Installation instructions... (pdf) 
These instructions look pretty good and show several plumbing arrangements.


Corn Burning
Ontario Ministry Of Agriculture

Burning Shelled Corn as a Heating Fuel


A very good paper on the basics of burning corn as a heating fuel.  Covers the equipment, process, and economics.  Well written.
Burning Shelled Corn As Fuel

Penn State Agricultural and Biological Engineering



Some good and reliable advice on burning shelled corn as a heating fuel.

The Penn State Extension section on shelled corn as fuel has been recently updated, and is quite helpful.

"I Burn Corn"


"I Burn Corn"  a fine personal site on the practicalities of burning corn for fuel.   Great source of practical, hands-on corn burning experience. 
Also provides a number of good links, references, and a discussion forum.


Corn Storage, Cleaning and Burning Pictures



Pictures of some of the odds and ends you need for a complete corn burning system.
DIY Mini Corn Cleaner

Plans to build the corn cleaner...
Corn cleanerHere is a set of plans from Roger for making a corn cleaner to clean corn before using in a corn burner.
Yahoo Corn Fuel Group This is a good Yahoo discussion group for getting the latest on using corn for heating, and for asking questions.


BioDiesel and Waste Vegetable Oil Burning
Journey to Forevers's Forced-Air BioFuel Heater

More material on waste or veggie oil burning:
(includes material on Mother Earth News burner)

The original Mother Earth burner that above are based on:
Make a Waste Oil Heater, Freudenberger
Finding Mother Earth News articles...

From Journey to Forever: Plans and design information on burners that will burn biodiesel and/or WVO.

Quite a bit of design information and experiences with prototypes.

Heating with Compost
While often associated with greenhouse heating, these heat from compost schemes can and have been used for space or water heating.
The Composting Greenhouse At New Alchemy Institute - A Report On Two Years of Operation and Monitoring, Bruce Fulford

Heating a greenhouse with compost

The Report (pdf)


Very extensive and detailed report on heating a greenhouse with compost. 
Two years worth of testing on design and type of compost issues.
Heating from Large Wood Chip Compost Piles
Jean Pain

The Methods of Jean Pain: Or another kind of garden, Ida Pain, 1980.
This book is out of print, and I was not able to find any used copies of this for sale.  If you search for "The Methods of Jean Pain", many free (questionable?) download sources come up. claims to be the official Jean Pain family website and sells a pdf copy. 

Mother Earth News has some articles by/on Jean Pain -- search for Jean Pain
Finding Mother Earth News articles...

Journey To Forever on Jean Pain:

A good two part video showing details of a large compost to heat and biogas pile and more:  (part 1) (part 2)

The book covers Jean Pain's  research in using compost for both agricultural and energy production.  There is some good, practical information on building large compost piles for the production of heat for water or space heating. 
One example 50 ton pile provided the equivalent of 200 MBTU over a 6 month period -- enough to heat a house.

Picture from the video -- finely shredded wood with plastic pipe to capture heat and fermentation vessel in middle to make biogas.

(Thanks to Curbie for finding the video!)

Heat free (nearly) with a compost furnace


This is a very nicely thought out space heating scheme that uses a large compost pile to generate heat.

Marc has worked out a design that provides for aerating the pile, keeping it moist, collecting the heat, and insulating the pile for greater efficiency.

More from Marc and his results for the first year of operation...

The mb-soft compost heating schemes

Details here...

This is an interesting set of concepts that use the heat generated through the decomposition of organic mater for space and water heating.


Composting Greenhouse with Straw Bale Foundation, From Experiments in Sustainable Urban Living ...


This uses surplus heat from a large compost pile under the greenhouse floor to heat water for the house.  You get water heating and greenhouse space with the same structure!

This is a pretty slick idea for heating water with heat generated from compost, as well as providing greenhouse space.
The thing that intrigues me is that you can apparently have working greenhouse space above the heat generating compost pile? 

I'd like to hear from anyone with composting experience on how workable this all seems? Gary