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Processor & ideas of Eric Henry & Coop

The Process (always changing) Top 4 Challenges (in order of priority)
I started my journey to make biodiesel in the fall of 2003 after studying it for a couple of years, and I continue to modify the process it seems with each new  batch I make.  I want to develop a smooth, consistent, and high quality system from the time of collecting the waste oil to the point of pumping biodiesel in my car.  Below I have outlined my current process and I welcome comments or suggestions.  There seems to be some criticism floating around the net about the Fuel Meister, mainly the cost.  When I purchased the unit I was thought I was the only one around North Carolina doing this and I wanted a system to get me to first base quickly making biodiesel.  Time is something I do not have a lot of with my primary business being in domestic apparel. Fuel Meister did this, making quality biodiesel very quickly, but since that time have made a lot of modifications to the equipment for what I believe makes the process better. 1) Finding a use for the glycerin
2) Distilling the methanol from the glycerin
3) Recycling the plastic SVO containers
4) Eliminating using grid power to make the fuel


FuelMeister Processor

Eric Henerys FuelMeister Biodiesel Processor
This is what my original processor looked like when I purchased it last October.  It is a good design and got me on my way to quickly making biodiesel.  The processor is set up inside T.S. Designs, a 20,000 apparel screenprint operation.  Most of the modifications were made to make the equipment more compatible to the environment at T.S. Designs.  We had to minimize and prepare for the possibility of an accidental or catastrophic spill.  

Modified Processor
This is what my processor looks like now.  The
methoxide tank is outside (image below).  The red
band around the black WVO drum is a drum heater
which gets the waste oil up to about 110-120
degrees and was purchased from Grainger.  It takes
about 8 hours to heat the oil so I have it on a timer to
cut on before I want to start a new batch.  I insulated
the processor to help hold the heat of the warm oil.  A
wall was built around the processor to isolate it from the
rest of the plant.  The processor is setting in a 30 gallon
spill containment pan that is connected to a hose that
goes outside to a 55 gallon barrel.  This way if there is
a catastrophic spill it will be contained and all the
liquids are forced out of the building.

Added a Racor 1000 2 micron filter which I both run in
a loop for a couple hours and then also run through again
as the biodiesel is pumped into a 55 gallon drum.  The
clear tub coming out of the top is to prime the pump which
I use the suction form a shop vac when I initially start
the process to get the WVO into the main reaction tank.

Methoxide tank outside of building

We have put all the hazardous chemicals and hazardous mixing process outside of the building.   The methanol is kept in spill containment containers and each barrel is grounded.   Once the mixing tank is secured to the methanol barrel the methanol is pumped into the tank and then the sodium hydroxide is mixed in the plastic container.  The tank is higher than the processor inside the building so to use gravity for the methoxide to flow into the building.  No pumps or electricity are used.  

Our latest modification has been to the methoxide
tank which we added a hand crank. The first trial
it dissolved the sodium hydroxide in about 15 minutes. 

The blades are plastic on a hollow metal rod that
only rubs against the plastic top and fits into the
bottom of the drain on the tank.

Another big improvement is switching to potassium
hydroxide that mixes very quickly in the methanol
and greatly minimizes the exposure to the methoxide.

Methoxide line coming into processor

This is the line on the bottom of the methoxide tank that runs into the building.  The yellow coupling is the way I separate the tank from the line so as to be able to set the tank on the ground for mixing.  Are the brass fittings going to cause a problem?

It seems the heat from the methoxide mixture in combination with the cold weather (30F) caused the plastic coupling to crack and leak.  This was been replaced with a brass valve shown on the right.

Methoxide line coming into processor
This is the methoxide line coming into the building
from the above image as it goes into the processing
tank. I have put a cut off value on the tank just to
give more control.

The modification to the right:  I bring the intake for the
WVO right at the bottom of the pump.  Primes quicker
with less hose than when it was connected at the bottom
of the processor.

Processor values
It looks complicated and you have to be sure
tocheck all the valves before you go to the next
step, but it works.  

Modification to above:  Replaced all the plastic fittings
with metal.  Installed a larger drain valve (left side of the
yellow container) to the spill container.  I have since
learned that you should not use galvanized steel since
the biodiesel will reactive with the zinc.  This has not been
as issue yet, but will replaced in future designs.

SVO Solar Heater

Our latest new design to solve the improve the of heating of the WVO so it flows and filters better than just heating in the sun.  The WVO solar heater was designed and built by my partner Tom Sineath using all salvaged parts.  Scrap plywood, the inside painted flat black and a single pane of glass from an old sliding glass door.  The WVO is loaded from the back side will hold enough 5 gallons containers to fill a 55 gallon drum.  We hope this will get the gets the WVO up to over 100.   Just waiting for a sunny day to test.

My partner has developed a multi layered system
using different polyester screen meshes sandwiched
between 5 gallon buckets that he cut the bottoms off of.
With the oil heated in our solar heater flowing at about
130 degrees we can fill a 55 gallon barrel in about 15
minutes.  The clean up is very easy since it all you do
is break it apart and  c shake off the mesh.  Tom is
already working on the next step, pumping through a
5 micron sock filter while still hot with the goal to
create an oil good enough to sun as straight VO.

This is the biggest change and improvement 
to making our fuels.

Go to beyond biodiesel to learn more.

Pump for sample batch

Once the waste oil has been filtered and collected in a 50 gallon barrel it is brought into the building and the drum heater is attached.  The oil is heated up, stirred so you get a good cross section of the oil that is in the barrel.  I then attach this small hand pump to collect 1 liter samples for test batches before making a full batch.

Drain glycerin in wood chipsGlycerin and wood chipsI am testing draining the glycerin in used 5 gallon buckets filled with wood chips supplied by the local tree trimming companies as a possible log for outdoor fireplacesFinding a home for the glycerin is another challenge.  I later abandon this method since when I have switched to potassium hydroxide which keeps the glycerin  liquid and will not gel up. 



Eric uses both a bubble and water wash to clean the fuel.  Eric's FuelMeister has a good misting system built in the top of the processor,  he typically do three washes.  The green globe is a timer connected to the water line so I the water cuts off automatically after a set time.  On the bubble wash I use four air diffusers connected to a regulated air line.  Typically the water will run about 45 minutes and then I will let the air run for another hour before I drain the water off.  The last wash I let set for 6-8 hours before draining.

Water Wash filter

This is something new I am testing, filtering the water wash that comes from the processor instead of dumping it down the drain (City of Burlington has approved it to go down the drain) or just let run across the ground.  I took a used 30 gallon plastic barrel (the stains on the outside were already there and not caused by the water wash), drilled 1/2 inch holes in the bottom, buried it about a foot in the ground and filled around with wood chips.  On the inside it is filled about a third of the way with gravel and sand.  My water wash is usually between 5-10 gallons per wash.

Once the biodiesel is washed, the fuel is pumped from the processor through a Racor 1000FS Water-Block Fuel Filter through a 10 micron filter that I purchased off Ebay.  I can pump off the 40 gallons of biodiesel in about 10 minutes with not much strain on the motor.  

I have also found it is critical to capture the gallon or so in a 5 gallon bucket the liquid that comes between the clean water wash drain and before you get a clear stream of biodiesel. I do this before I hook the biodiesel line to the filter.  I can go back after a few hours and this liquid has separated and I can capture the biodiesel to filter in the next batch I make.


Rector and hand pump
This is how we dispense the final biodiesel, I use a
series 900 Racor diesel filter with 2 micron water block
element which can be purchased from Mid -Atlantic Engine
supply, The hand pump came from
Northern Tool

We now have two tanks set up, one for biodiesel the other for the filtered WVO,
both are pumped through a 10 micron then
2 micron Racor filter.

For more information contact Eric Henry  336.229.6426 x201  cell:  336.675.6266


Reactor IIMarch 25, 2005 our new reactor goes online.  Based upon the modification we made to the first reactor, but modifications to make the process smoother and more consistent.     

Top View: 

Bottom View:

Missing nozzle:  This is one of the big improvements we have made from the earlier water wash design. We have just one water line that connects to the center top of the reactor tank and joins to a newly design spray nozzle that contains 5 misting heads.  The eliminates all the individual connections to the misting head that we were always have leaks from.

Racor Water block filters

Methoxide Tank:

Top side view of methoxide tank     KOH Mixing Funnel:  Looking from the top of the methoxide tank we have put in a stainless steel strainer that hold the KOH flakes.  The methanol is then pumped over the KOH via a brass shower head.  This works great, everything dissolves and you are away from the methoxide tank when the methanol is pumped in.  The strainer is also a few inches into the solution once the tank is filled so to make sure all the KOH flakes are dissolved.  I do this about a hour before I add to the WVO to make sure that the KOH has completely dissolved.

Copyright 2005 - 2016
Last modified: 11/26/16