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Old 24th March 2005, 04:18 PM   #1
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Default DIY VW diesel plant makes electricity

This may be off topic for an audio forum but it is inkeeping with the spirit of DIY that some of us here take to extremes as a lifestyle. I resemble this remark!

Back at Christmas we had an ice storm and simultaneous power failure. When I started my POS Briggs & Stratton powered 3 kW standby power plant it finally did exactly what it was supposed to do by design, ran for about 30 seconds and then committed suicide for lack of oil. Beware all those light duty 3600 RPM power plants that they sell at Home Dumpo and places like that. They are designed to run about 30 days and that's IT! Mine made more noise than electricity while it worked.

I have wanted something that turned slower thus making less noise and lasting much longer between overhauls, and ran on diesel (so that I could also run alternative fuels rather than expensive gasoline only).

Back in Y2K I had purchased an old VW Jetta and towed it home for the engine which I removed and had been sitting in my shop for the past five years with the intention of building a good standby generator with it. This was all the incentive I finally needed to get started on that project again!

In the past three months, starting from scratch I built all the framework, a custom flex coupler to drive the alternator from the flywheel (you cannot purchase one for this application as it is just plain wierd on the VW engine) and everything else. All parts including engine and alternator were sandblasted prior to painting and assembly. I now have a fully functional co-generating water cooled power plant in the 12 kW class that not only can power my shop and home, but also heats my shop when running. It is a real miser on fuel too which is why I chose to use the 1.6 Litre VW engine from stories I'd heard. They are true! I have heard they will idle for about 7 hours on a gallin of fuel. I haven't tried this but i believe it. At 4 kW constant load it uses about 2.2 litres per hour. That works out to about 0.55 litres of fuel per kW hour. I governor regulate the engine speed at 1800 RPM.

Here are a few pictures of the project beginning with an early shot of the engine on a freshly conceived motor mount and subframe that will allow the engine and alternator to float on the main frame suspended by 24 small block Chevy valve springs. I should add the main frame rails made of 3x6" box tubing are filled with sand to keep them from vibrating and ringing, a good audiophile technique!

The last pic shows the way the unit is installed in my furnace room. I decided to share the existing gas furnace chimney as an exhaust stack for the engine. This setup worked out great!

I have the system outfitted with a duel fuel supplies, each with it's own filter farm. One system also employs a DIY oil preheater and water extractor using hot engine coolant. I can run this system on WVO, WMO, etc. The blue day tank actually contains waste transmission fluid and motor oil mix. The engine under a 9 kW load works noticeable better, with a smaller throttle opening (better fuel economy) on the waste oil than it does on new store bought diesel. This is because there iis a lot more energy in the heavy oil.

I still have to build the genset control panel box which will mount on the bracket sticking up next to the onboard fuel tank. I also have to do proper permanent wiring.

I am on my way to energy self sufficiency with this plant. Once I have my wind turbine built and running (hopefully this year), and a much smaller diesel power plant which will give me insurance and run 24/7 delegating this plant to just use when I'm working in the shop (its 3-phase power can run my machine shop), or doing rebuild, repair and maintaining other systems I'll be all set to call the power utility and cancel my service.
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:20 PM   #2
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:21 PM   #3
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:22 PM   #4
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:24 PM   #5
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:25 PM   #6
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:26 PM   #7
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:28 PM   #8
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Old 24th March 2005, 04:29 PM   #9
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Old 24th March 2005, 07:18 PM   #10
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