Journal of Oil Palm Research ELAEIS Special Issue, November 1995, p. 92-95

Preliminary Observations Of Using Palm Oil As Fuel For Cars Fitted With Elsbett Engine

AHMAD Haji Hitam*; SALMAH Jahis*


Automobiles consume a high proportion of fossil oil which is a significant contributor to major global problems such as oil supply and through the associated emission, to global warming, acidification and urban air pollution. Several approaches in dealing with these problems involving automobiles must include their fuel economy, emissions and choice of fuel. In 1983 a symposium on vegetable oils as diesel fuels revealed that vegetable oils have good potential as alternative fuels if the problems of high viscosity, low volatility and the reactivity (polymerization) of the unsaturated hydrocarbon chains can be overcome.

The Elsbett engine was first introduced to Malaysia in 1984. It started with a joint study between Elsbett Konstruktion Germany, Mitsui of Japan and PORIM. In that joint study, four units of Elsbett engines were brought in to undergo trials to determine suitability of neutralised palm oil and palm diesel as fuel. Two units were used as generator sets running on palm diesel and palm oil as fuel. The other two units were used on two cars, each running on either palm diesel or neutralised palm oil. The palm oil car covered nearly 65,000 km and the palm diesel car covered 75,000 km. The results of this trial seemed to be satisfactory.

Based on that trial, several developments had to be made which includes:

– providing heaters to the fuel lines from the tank to the fuel filters,
– providing starting fuel which filled the injectors before the engine is switched off,
– providing collar heaters to the casing of the fuel filters,
– automatic changing over from starting fuel to crude palm oil (CPO) supply when the CPO fuel is in liquid state.


* Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia,
P.O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.