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BioDiesel Class 101

Class # 2 - Oil Collection

    You will obviously need a source of vegetable oil to make your BioDiesel out of so the first thing you do is figure out how much diesel fuel you currently consume per month. Figure on needing about 12% more BioDiesel to go the same distance as you did with #2 diesel fuel, the reason for this extra oil is two fold, 8% will be needed to account for loss in mileage & the rest is because as a beginner you will loose some in the beginning as you learn how to wash & dry effectively. Now you know how much WVO (waste vegetable oil) you will need each month

    Start looking for high volume users of cooking oil. In our PGB book tell you how to locate them, what to ask & how seek permission to examine the oil in their current collection container before making any promises to them. Things to look for would be garbage such as plastic bags, beverage cans and other junk in the current WVO collection container which may indicate trouble with vandalism. Look for LARD or hardened animal fats in the collection container which will make it much harder to pump out. Although you can make BioDiesel out of animal fats it will be much harder to collect as it will be solid most times of the year. Animal fats generally contain more fuel energy, however BioDiesel made from them will begin to Gel at a warmer temperature than BioDiesel made out of liquid vegetable oil would. Check for the presence of water in the WVO indicating that they do not keep the lid closed. While you can dry WVO, it is energy intensive & takes extra time so our suggestion is to look elsewhere for a better WVO source or convince them to keep the container well covered at all times. Inquire about the type of cooking oil they use, is it hydrogenated or is it salad oil? Ask how much cooking oil they go through every week, figure the restaurant looses around 10% to 15% being absorbed into the food or getting lost. Bounce this amount against what WVO amount you figured you will need for your fuel uses. Decide if it would be worth your while to bother with collecting WVO from them or not.

    Once you have located a good place to collect WVO & have made agreeable arrangements with the owner (most times you can pick it up for free), you will need to provide a covered WVO collection container. They may ask that you pay for the old container to be hauled away because they may be charged for removal of the yellow grease container by the current rendering service provider.  The used oil (a.k.a. - yellow grease or WVO) becomes the property of the oil collection container owner once the oil is placed inside. Yes, that is right.. it belongs to the restaurant until it is put in that container & then it belongs to the container owner. DO NOT PUMP OUT OF THE CONTAINER CURRENTLY ON THE PREMISES'!  Removal of WVO from someone else's container constitutes theft in most states so never get WVO from someone else's container, always use your own container & be sure to mark your WVO collection containers with a your name or contact information.

    TRANSPORTATION - You will need a method to transport the collected WVO home from the site & you will need to provide regular & RELIABLE removal of the WVO if you want to keep getting oil from them. They will not put up with sloppy WVO removal or delinquent removal of full containers. They are in the business of cooking food & have no desire to put up with such nonsense.

    Consider how you will remove the used WVO in various seasons of the year. Depending on your area & the storage temperatures of the oil, it may be hard as a rock in the winter. If your lucky you may be able to get them to refill the small cubes that the oil comes in & keep it inside for easy removal by you. The standard oil cube weighs 35LB when full & can easily be transported in the standard car. Alternatively you could provide smaller yet suitable collection drums for them in the winter for easier handling by you. If this is a problem, talk with them about this & see if something can be worked out. More often than not though you will find they will not do this for you & may want to use full size 55 gallon drums or even larger collection containers. In these cases you will need to find a way to handle the collection containers that you have provided them. Figure that WVO weighs pretty close to 8 LB per gallon a 55 gallon steel drum of WVO will weigh in around 440 LB + the weight of the empty drum. At nearly 500LB even with a dolly to move a full drum it is more than a lot of people can manage by themselves.

    HOW TO GET THE OIL OUT OF THE COLLECTION DRUM - Removal of WVO from the restaurant dump container can be accomplished very cheaply if you manually dip it out by hand with an old 1 gallon plastic bottle or for a bit more cost you can pump or suck out the WVO container with an oil transfer pump or a suction source.
    When we started making BioDiesel at first, we manually dipped out the 55 gal collection drum & using an old antifreeze bottle that had a hole cut out in the side up near the top of the container to turn it into a dipper. It is labor intensive but surprising just how quickly it goes. We then emptied our dipper into a 5 gallon plastic pail. When the pail had 3 to 4 gallons in it we would dump it into the 55 gallon drum that we kept in the back of our truck for transporting home. Later we graduated to a cheap electric pump which required priming each time, this was faster than dipping but the pump would clog up occasionally requiring us to deal with clogs caused by pieces of meat and it didn't work well in cold weather. Later we graduated to a self priming gear pump which we now use to pump out our WVO collection container. This pump has worked very well for us, we are fortunate to live in a moderate climate & our WVO stays mostly liquid because rarely the temperatures drop to 20F. One method when the WVO is too stiff or hard to pump is to exchange the full 55 gallon drum with an empty one. We talk about building this pump yourself in our PGB Book, it also talks about mounting a cheap truck mounted hydraulic bed crane such as we use & how to mount the crane to keep the truck bed from bending or twisting by installing a truck frame extension.

    Take note that any given type of pure vegetable oil is actually made up of various types of  base oils, the blend of these oils is determined naturally by the plant it comes from but even then, since this is an organic function, factors such as growing conditions will cause natural variations in the makeup of the oil. It should be noted that these natural occurrences can change the characteristics of the BioDiesel made from it. The difference can be slight variations in cloud point or cold pour point from batch to batch. Usually it is not going to vary much but you should always test the cloud point of every batch when the weather starts to turn cold. The type of oil such as Soybean, Canola, exc. among other factors like if it is Hydrogenated or not will affect the temperature the WVO will solidify.

And you thought we forgot.....

  1. How much does a full 55 gallon drum of WVO weigh?

  2. How will you collect WVO in winter months?

  3. If using a truck bed mounted crane, do you need to take any precautions to prevent the bed from twisting when lifting up a full drum of WVO, if so what precautions?

  4. What natural occurrence can affect cloud point of your finished BioDiesel?

  5. Soybean oil is made up of just one type of base oil right?

  6. If using a truck bed mounted crane, what do you use to attach the crane to the 55 gallon drum for safe lifting?

  7. If using a cheap pump that does not prime itself, what must you be ready to deal with?

  8. Besides pumping, dipping & total drum removal via crane, what other way exists for WVO removal?

  9. Is a gear pump self priming?

  10. About how much does WVO weigh per gallon?

  11. What does WVO stand for anyway?

  12. All WVO is the same isn't it, if not why not?

  13. What kind of information we give about WVO in our PGB book?

  14. You should grab the first WVO source you find right?

  15. Bonus points... How much does our PGB book cost?


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Last modified: 11/26/16