Source: PURDUE UNIVERSITY submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Oct 1, 2002
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2007
Grant Year
Project Director
Gibson, H. G.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
New uses are being sought for soybean products to increase the competitiveness of this commodity for those farmers growing soybeans. Successful application of soy oil to the large volume heating oil business would guarantee a large market for soy oil. If a successful heating oil fuel could be developed that used 20egetable oil, soy oil in this example, then a market for 1.47 billion gallons would be made available.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Knowledge Area
511 - New and Improved Non-Food Products and Processes;

Subject Of Investigation
1820 - Soybean;

Field Of Science
2020 - Engineering;
Goals / Objectives
1. To determine the physical and fuel characteristics of vegetable oil and vegetable oil fractions with other materials (e.g. viscosity) as they relate to new applications (e.g., soy oil/aviation fuel). 2. Develop delivery devices for soy oil applications (e.g. heating unit burners). 3. Study storage problem that occur with soy oil. Long term storage of soy oil may result in bacterial growth in the storage tanks.
Project Methods
Following an in-depth literature study, tests will be established to determine the physical and fuel characteristics of soy oil and soy oil/heating oil. soy oil/aviation fuel mixtures. Some characteristics that appear to be important at this stage are: 1. Viscosity (both pure and mixes of soy oil and heating oil/aviation fuel) Viscosity, the flow resistance of a fuel, is an important parameter in vegetable oil applications. When used as a fuel, the oil must flow to the power source at different temperatures, some very low. Too high a viscosity can slow, or even stop, fuel flow. In addition, too high or too low a viscosity can reduce the lubricity need for key engine/heater pumps and injectors, causing premature component failure. Combustion spray patterns are also affected by viscosity. Viscosity will be determined using viscometers and at different fractions of vegetable oil to petroleum-based oils (e.g., 10% soy oil, 90% heating oil at 70F, 40F, 0F). The viscosity/temperature charts developed will be made available in resulting publications. 2. Storage bacterial growth - Diesel, aviation and other petroleum fuels can degrade when stored for long (6 months or more) periods of time. Vegetable oils also degrade (oxidize) over time and may degrade faster than petroleum fuels. Oxidation and microbial growth (microbe growth requires water but water exists in all fuel tanks as water vapor or condensation on the walls) will create semi-solid material in the tank that when the vegetable oil flows to the burner can clog screens, filters, and nozzles. The vegetable fuel must meet ASTM standards (ASTM, 1999) for fuel storage. We will prepare storage tests for different fractions of heating oil and vegetable oils to determine storage life. Also, the amounts of solid matter developed by oxidation or microbial actions will be established and growth models to predict development of solids over time will be developed. Fuel additives will be researched that might stabilize the fuels in storage. 3. Oxidation in long-term storage - Physical vegetable oil changes will be determined as per the bacterial growth from storage as noted above in item #2. 4.Energy levels of pure and mixes of soy oil and heating/aviation fuel mixes. Various procedures will be studied, from use with other fuels such as regular heating oil storage tests, to determine if the same tests can be used with soy oil and soy oil combinations. Energy level determinations will be made using an adiabatic bomb calorimeter. Viscosity levels will be determined using various types of viscometers. Since both heating fuels and aviation fuels must perform over a variety of temperatures, viscosities must be established over a wide range of temperatures including low temperatures for winter applications. The parameters needed to redesign conventional heating oil burners will be determined and applied to laboratory prototype burners and tested for feasibility and performance. It is expected that design changes will be minimal for mixtures with low soy oil content but may require major changes as soy oil content increases.

Progress 10/01/02 to 09/30/07

Research of soybean home heating (SHO), a 20% degummed soybean oil mixed with 80% conventional petroleum based heating oil, was performed with tests for storage degradation, effect on fuel pump parts, emissions and overall performance in home furnaces showed that it is a viable alternative for home heating. Tests performed in two homes were successful. Use of this mixture would reduce the amount of new carbon introduced into the atmosphere (carbon requestering). Plans were developed and are in progress to move to larger scale use of SHO with a demonstration at a U.S. Army stateside installation.

In 2002, the northeast U.S. consumed 5.8 billion gallons of petroleum heating oil. If 25% of the homes used SHO, this would replace 290 million gallons of petroleum fuel oil. Use by the military in stateside base boilers would add to the amount of petroleum oil replaced with additional farmer benefits.


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 10/01/04 to 09/30/05

Research demonstrated that 20% degummed soybean oil along with 80% petroleum based home heating oil when mixed, worked in home furnaces with optimum performance only requiring a nozzle substitution in the furnace. The SHO 20 (20% degummed soybean oil, 80% regular fuel oil) mixture had 1-3% less heating energy at 135,490 BTUs/gallon. SO2 emissions were lower than conventional fuel oil and new carbon introduced into the atmosphere was reduced by 20% for SHO 20. Long term storage of the different fuel mixtures indicated no change in heating values for the mixtures. Some deposits did occur after storage of one year and four months but were considered inconsequential.

The US used 6.6 billion gallons of petroleum based fuel oil for residential heating in 2001. The northeast US consumed 5.8 billion gallons. If SHO 20 were used, it would have replaced 290 million gallons of petroleum fuel oil. This would require 5.7 million acres of soybeans (2002 figures).


  • Kaufman, Bradley, May 2005, Degummed Soybean Oil for Home Heating, Purdue University Master Thesis, unpublished

Progress 10/01/03 to 09/30/04

Soybean heating oil (SHO) has great potential to become a renewable component in residential heating applications. Degummed soybean oil was the renewable resource analyzed during this project. Research has demonstrated SHO 20, 20% degummed soybean oil and 80% petroleum fuel, to be compatible with unmodified residential furnaces. The kinematic viscosity of SHO 20 was 3.46cSt at 100degrees F which was within the ASTM requirement for petroleum fuel oil. The pour point for SHO 20 was -22degrees F. The net heating value of SHO 20 was 135,490Btu/gal which was only 1-3% lower than the pure petroleum fuel value of 139,167Btu/gal on a volume basis. Combustion analyses were performed to determine the NOx and SO2 emissions at optimal furnace settings. Petroleum fuel oil, SHO 20 and SHO 50 were all optimized for each furnace setup using O2, smoke spot and CO emissions. The results showed all fuels produced less than 15ppm SO2 at all settings. These values are comparable to the results presented by Batey which showed SO2 emissions of 15ppm for a 20 % soy methyl ester blend with 80 % LS fuel. The NOx emissions for petroleum fuel oil and SHO 20 ranged from 68ppm to 130ppm for all optimized settings. The results from Batey showed NOx emissions of 90ppm for blends of 20 % soy methyl ester and 80 % fuel oil. A long term storage analysis was performed from June 02 to Sept 03 on four different types of fuel. Fuel oil, SHO 10, SHO 50, and degummed soybean oil were all placed in various containers and locations. After the year and four month storage period, the fuels were visually inspected and heat content tests were performed using a bomb calorimeter. The visual inspection results showed that there was no visual stratification of the blends and some deposits did form inside the containers. The heat content results showed that all of the blends were within two standard deviations of the initial standard means and therefore there was no significant change in heat content after long term storage. Field tests were completed using SHO 10, SHO 20, and SHO 30 at two different residential homes. The field tests consisted of term tests in March 03 and one long term test in the winter of 03-04.The results from the SHO 10 and SHO 30 short term tests showed no major problems. The results from the SHO 20 long term test showed only two major problems with the fuel pumps. The fuel pumps failed due to shaft seal failures which were determined not to be from soy oil usage. Emissions from the field tests were comparable to the lab tests for SHO 20 in that the SO2 emissions averaged 13ppm and the NOx emissions had an average of 54ppm.A four year historic price analysis from Jan 99 to Jan 03 comparing petroleum fuel oil to SHO 20 on an energy basis was also performed. The results showed SHO 20 to have an economic advantage in 32% of the reporting periods. The SHO 20 price was within $0.10/MBtu for another 35% of the reporting periods. This demonstrated the potential for SHO blends to be competitive with petroleum heating oil.

The potential for near-term use of SHO 20 in heating applications does exist. As foreign sources of petroleum oil become more risky/expensive, SHO 20 could feasibly compete on a cost per MBtu basis. In addition, the federal government is under executive orders to replace petroleum usage with renewable less polluting fuels. The military (US Army Corps of Engineers) has showed interest in a larger scale test of SHO 20 in a military base boiler. We recommend additional funding to set up this larger scale test. A successful test could open up a sizable market with military/federal agencies. It should be noted that a switch back to conventional fuel oil requires no changes in the equipment (nor does starting with SHO 20).


  • Gibson, H. G.;Vanlaningham, N.; Kaufman, B.; 2004; Evaluation of Soybean Heating Oil Blends for Use in Residential Applications; ASAE
  • Gibson, H. G.; Ess, D.; Vanlaningham, N.; Kaufman, B.; 2004; Soybean Oil Containing Triglycerides as a Renewable Component in Residential Heating Applications; Indiana Soybean Board report