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BioDiesel Class 101

Class # 1 - At What Cost?

    This is a topic I think most people are very interested in and rightly so. Not to put off answering this question but cost can be defined in many different ways such as Time and Money however let us not forget the potential savings.
    Besides the cost to make the BioDiesel fuel itself you have the cost to obtain the needed processor equipment. The cost to make the fuel is primarily governed by the cost of the chemicals and those are driven by market forces but you can figure on it costing around $1.25 per gallon in chemicals, water & electricity to make your fuel. The cost of the Processing equipment is where you can either spend a lot or very little. It may come as a surprise to you that spending more does not equal better when it comes to processing equipment. For example, our exclusive processor design offers far more features than most other processors on the market yet ours is priced very reasonably. You would be hard pressed to locate a new processor for less money than ours and we seriously doubt you could ever locate one with more features for anywhere near the price of our modestly priced processors. Even the multi-thousand dollar processors do not offer all the features of our exclusive low cost design! Our modest processor can be built for as low as $225, our deluxe processor for around $400.  Yet consider potentially saving $7550 to ($18,750 if the Cap & Trade bill passes) or more over 5 years on fuel & it is an honest bargain.

    First our shameless self promotion... Buy our $12.95 PGB book  it will save you a lot of time, frustration & money. At 215 pages, our book is a genuine good deal. It provides you with all the details & information you will need to build your very own simple, yet cheap and effective BioDiesel processor, Wash tank, & Drying tank plus you get all sorts of other information such as BioDiesel Recipe instructions, Troubleshooting, what not to use or do when making BioDiesel, Chemical safety data sheets, Sources of supplies, Chemicals needed, Internet sources for information & a whole lot more! Others would charge you $20 just for a flimsy set of processor plans & then more money for the washer & dryer tank designs but we give it all to you for a reasonable price which you will make back with a lot of change to spare after making your first 40 gallon batch of BioDiesel!

    Our "All in One" processor design can be built for as little as $225. It can be built cheaper if you have a source of used pipe & plumbing fittings. The tank can be a new or used 55 gallon steel drum. Putting steel fittings on the tank can be done by the do it yourselfer or can be farmed out to a welding shop for about $50 to $100. Your local high school shop class teacher may wish to build it as a class project for you. Figuring new plumbing, the welding being farmed out & buying a used 55 gallon steel drum you can make your processor for around $225. Because this design can be built as an "All in One" processor it can function as a processor, wash tank & dryer which saves you even more money. If you desire you can invest in another steel tank & a few minor pipe fittings to make a cheap wash tank freeing up the processor for quicker through put while washing.

    You will also need a couple of used 55 gallon steel drums to be used as WVO collection drums, figure around $20 total for them clean and used.

    Collection equipment can consist of an old 1 gallon plastic antifreeze bottle with a 3" hole cut out near the top opposite the built in handle for transferring the WVO at the restraint into your transportation container. You can use a free (from the restaurant) 5 gallon plastic bucket to use as a WVO transfer bucket to pour neatly into a funnel & into your transportation containers (that is how we started collecting ourselves). Our book talks about building a fast electric WVO transfer pump and also about using a truck bed crane for moving 55 gallon steel drums full of oil without damaging your truck.

    Chemicals are much cheaper to purchase in bulk so we suggest purchasing 55 gallon drums of Methanol & 50 LB sacks of Lye. These chemicals cost around $215 per drum of Methanol & $55 per sack of Sodium Hydroxide Lye (prices fluctuate with the market), figure 2x the cost for the lye if you wish to use Potassium Hydroxide Lye instead.

Below is a cost breakdown to make your first 280 gallons of fuel in 40 gallon batches.
$  20 for our book
$150 to build our processor
$  30 for 3 steel drums
$270 for the chemicals
$470 for everything you need to begin making 280 gallons of fuel, this comes out to about $1.68 per gallon of fuel if calculating in the original construction costs of the hardware or about $1 per gallon not including the cost of the hardware and you will have a lot of left over Lye. If you had purchased the 280 gallons of fuel at the pump at $3 per gallon, it would have cost you $840 for this fuel. You have saved a lot of money already!

    Time... every body wants to know how much time it takes to make BioDiesel. Actually though it does not take much of your real time to make BioDiesel because the processor machine does all the work. We are not sure what all the hubbub over time is all about because it is actually fun to make BioDiesel. Some people say spare time is worth money, to those people we ask... Did you ever ask yourself how much it cost you in spare time dollars to watch a ball game? Ball games are fun to watch yet BioDiesel is fun to make so why all the fuss over time?

    For those that really want to know how much time it takes here are the numbers. Time is a tough one to answer & the reason for that is all the variables. Do we calculate in the machine time or just your actual time? Below we give you the actual times as best we can & list it as just the actual time you spend. Note: we are not calculating in the machine time because you don't need to be present or be required to do any labor for that. Actual Total combined personal time spent is about 3 hours spread over a couple of days per single 40 gallon batch as broken down below. Please understand that if you have the room you could process a double or triple batch in nearly the same amount of time.

  1. We figure your wise & purchased our book so you won't have more than 1 hour of driving once a month to collect 120 gallons of WVO.
     So 3 batches = 120 gallons of WVO which means your driving time will equate to 20 minutes of driving time per 40 gallon batch.

  2. Collecting 120 gallons of WVO will take about 30 minutes if using a truck bed crane to collect the oil.

  3. Once home, pumping the WVO into your processor to process 40 gallons of fuel at a time should take about 10 minutes, heating up the WVO to 120F will take between 1 & 2 hours depending on the oil temperature, heater element & voltage used but this is not counted machine time.

  4. If wet, drying the WVO may be required so we will figure 1 hour machine time + 5 minutes of your time to test dryness.

  5. Titration of the WVO & mixing the methoxide, 30 minutes. 1 hour of resting time for the methoxide reaction will not be counted as your help is not needed.

  6. Sucking methoxide into the processor 10 minutes.

  7. Processing BioDiesel... you should stay in the area to keep an eye on everything so figure 1 Hour for this even though you really aren't doing anything except making sure your processor doesn't leak. Feel free to mow the lawn while keeping an eye on the processor.

  8. Turn it off then 3 to 4 hours waiting time before actually draining off the waste glycerol 10 minutes.

  9. Pump out, then set up to mist wash the raw fuel 3x, 20 minutes.

  10. Set up & bubble wash 2x, 10 minutes.

  11. Pump out, setup & Dry polish the 40 gallons of BioDiesel fuel, 1 hour heating of machine time +20 minutes your time.

  12. Pump out & filter the finished 40 gallons of BioDiesel fuel, 30 minutes.



And you thought we forgot.....

  1. How much does our PGB book cost?

  2. How much money would you save on your first 7.5 batches of BioDiesel fuel?

  3. Do you need anything fancy to start collecting WVO?

  4. What is the cheapest you can go to start collecting WVO?

  5. What is the cheapest way to purchase chemicals?

  6. How much of your actual time spent does it take to make a batch of BioDiesel?

  7. Would it take much more time to make a double batch using two processors?

  8. How much BioDiesel do you get from each 40 gallon batch if not 40 gallons why the discrepancy?

  9. Which will you run out of first, Lye or Methanol?


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Last modified: 11/26/16