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BioDiesel Class 101

Class # 5 - Making BioDiesel
 

    Now that you know how to Titrate and how to make Methoxide, you are ready to make your first 40 gallon batch of BioDiesel, OOPs! you still have not bought our PGB book which shows you how to build our a safe, simple and effective BioDiesel Processor. You should buy the book because your missing out on some very useful information details.

    OK, we will assume you have built our "All in One" Low Fume BioDiesel Processor based on the design from our PGB Book. You know that it is superior to other designs including the commercial ones as well because being made of steel it is fire safe, you can wash it out to keep it clean inside, easily inspect & clean your heating element between batches, you know our "All in One" design has multiple functions allowing you to Process, Wash & Dry your BioDiesel all in the same tank! Try that with one of the other designs, they can't do it!

  1. First, fill the processor tank up with 40 gallons of WVO.
     
  2. Cover the tank turn on the pump & start heating to the suggested processing temperature.
     
  3. Once the WVO reaches 90F degrees or higher, remove the cover, turn on the shower head and allow the warm WVO exposure to the air. This will allow minor moisture to evaporate for dryer WVO which gets higher conversion into BioDiesel rather than making soap.
     
  4. Pre weigh a microwave safe disposable container & then collect around 300 grams of weighed WVO in this container (take careful note of the actual weight of the WVO inside), put it into a microwave oven & heat it for a bit with the lid off. Carefully stir it from time to time, once it reaches the suggested temperature stop heating it but continue to stir it for a while to encourage moisture evaporation. Be careful not to remove much oil onto your stirring utensil when you remove it. After the WVO cools down to a safe temperature place it back on the scales & weigh it again. Now comes the math... add the before & after weight values together & then divide that number into the heated weight value you last  measured. Now multiply times 100 to get a percentage. This is a percentage representing the amount of water contained in your WVO. It should be less than .25%, if not then you need to continue drying the WVO in your processor until it is. Repeat this step as necessary.
     
  5. Once the water content in your WVO is less than .25% & has been heated up to the suggested processing temperature, turn off the shower head then clamp the lid down onto the processor. Note that you should NEVER heat your WVO above 135F because 140F is the boiling point of Methanol which could potentially cause process tank to over pressurize if improperly vented which could rupture the tank and result in a major problem. Our processor designs include proper venting in the designs.
     
  6. Some people believe it is a safety hazard to continue to keep the heater on once the flammable Methoxide has been added to the WVO & prefer to turn off the heater power before adding the Methoxide. They then slowly feed in the Methoxide into the insulated processor & monitor the liquid temperature. If it falls below the suggested temperature in the time of 1.5 hours they mix longer to make up for the lower temperature & then put on more insulation before the next batch processed to hold the heat longer.  Conversely we have made BioDiesel for over 3 years & have always left the heater power on when processing. We do use a good thermostat with an over temperature circuit breaker on it and have set our thermostat to the suggested temperature. We also constantly monitor our Mixture temperature at multiple points as well as the base temperature of the actual heating element. If anything begins to operate outside our normal temperature limits we shut down the heater element power & wait until it cools to mixture temperature before reapplying power. We have never had an incident. The choice is yours... heater on or heater off while processing.
     
  7. After your WVO has reached the suggested processing temperature range, very slowly over the course of 15 to 20 minutes draw all the Methoxide mixture into the processor and allow it to mix thoroughly.
     
  8. Keeping the process mixture circulating & the temperature within the suggested range, the process completes in 1 Hour. Although unnecessary it does no harm if you want to mix longer.
     
  9. If you still have the heater powered on, turn it off now.
     
  10. Turn off the circulation pump.
     
  11. Using the ball valves, isolate the tank & drain out the pump lines.
     
  12. BioDiesel will float on top of Glycerol so allow the mixture to rest undisturbed for 1 to 4 hours for the bulk of the glycerol to settle out, then drain out the Glycerol that has settled to the bottom of the tank. Save the waste Glycerol because more BioDiesel will settle to the top later which you can recover. Some people recover unused methanol from the raw glycerol but that is another topic and we don't think it is worth the expenditure.
     
  13. Pump the Raw BioDiesel out of the processor and into a settling tank to allow any residual Glycerol to settle out over the next couple of days, or pump it directly into a wash tank. If you built our "All in One"  processor design you can wash and Dry the BioDiesel in the processor. We suggest you drain the raw BioDiesel into a temporary storage drum so you can wash out the processor tank with water to remove any residual Glycerol or soaps out before you begin washing the BioDiesel in the "All in One" processor. This simply saves some time. Same goes for drying in the "All in One" processor, drain it out to a temp storage drum & then dry the inside of the tank before using it to dry your BioDiesel, this saves time as well.  

QUIZ
And you thought we forgot.....

  1. What temperature should you never exceed & why?
     

  2. How can you tell if your WVO is dry enough?
     

  3. What happens if you have any water in your WVO when making BioDiesel?
     

  4. How long should it take to suck in your Methoxide when making a 40 gallon batch of BioDiesel?
     

  5. What happens to the liquid in the tank after the processing & pump has stopped?
     

  6. Is the BioDiesel layer on top or underneath? Why?
     

  7. Why should raw BioDiesel be pumped into a settling tank?
     

  8. If your WVO is damp, how do you dry it?
     

  9. How long does WVO need to process at the suggested temperature in order to convert into BioDiesel?
     

  10. Does it matter if the process time runs longer than required?
     

  11. Do you need to continue to heat the WVO once it is up to temperature & you are ready to draw in the Methoxide, if not what needs to watched closely?
     

  12. Should you throw out the waste glycerol right away & if not why?
     

    OK, you have now successfully made your biodiesel fuel. Now you have a choice to make, do you continue to washing & drying or go straight to filtering? If you desire to make ASTM grade BioDiesel fuel then your course is clear, you need to wash & dry the fuel. Some people elect to use the BioDiesel fuel just like you have in your tank right now, of course they filter it first. This fuel is not approved by the EPA as a motor vehicle fuel. We don't do this ourselves because we agree with many vehicle manufacturers that think alcohol in the fuel poses a fire hazard since diesel vehicles are not designed for easily ignited fuel such as alcohol. Furthermore we believe the unwashed fuel may contain enough contaminates that it could lead to fuel delivery problems later on. Unwashed fuel still contains soap, alcohol & water. The water is a very minor component of the RAW fuel but it is present non-the-less. Soaps may cause coking of the injection nozzles & obstruct fuel delivery leading to poor fuel economy. This said, if we had a diesel vehicle with extremely high mileage, we may be tempted to use unwashed biodiesel in it.

If you desire to use unwashed BioDiesel, please head directly to our BioDiesel Filtering class.
 
Move on to
Washing BioDiesel if you desire to comply with the recommendations of the ASTM BioDiesel specification.

   

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Last modified: 11/26/16