Homebrewed Biodiesel

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May 27, 2002
London, AR
As I have stated before I am building a Bio-Diesel Processor and Wash Tank and filtering barrel. I am trying to do this on a budget. I will post pictures as I assemble this to give you an idea of the involvement, and simplicity. All of the plans for this project are coming from two main sources. I am using the Biodiesel Homebrew guide by Maria "Girl Mark" Alovert and also the Biodiesel step-by-step manual from the Department of Physical Science at Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas. I will be building the Birdseed Processor/Reactor which both of these manuals describe. Of course it will be modified to fit my situation, but we are only talking a valve or two, nothing drastic. But 99% of this project will be from those 2 sources and their ideas. I will try to show most of the steps and the finished set-up when complete. So as I progress, I will post more pictures. Starting below is the photo of my finished Wash Tank Stand. (Tank to be added later) The only cost for this table was 2-2X4's. The rest of the wood and parts and extinguisher were on hand for many years. So no cost factor allotted for those items, excess on hand.

Cost: 2-2X4's $4.90
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This is a picture of the Bio-Diesel Processor Stand. Plywood was free and the blocks were free (used). Under the table are 2-5 Gallon carboy containers for methanol/KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) mixtures.

Table/Blocks: Free

5 Gallon bucket w/lid: Free

2-5 Gallon Carboys: $25.58 (Not including shipping) United States Plastic Corp.

The picture below is of my Portable Induction Cooktop, (purchased in 1984) and an old stainless pot. All sitting on a roll around old TV table. The Induction Cooktop is used to heat the 1 liter test batch of Bio-Diesel. Remember, I am working with Methanol on this stuff, so no sparks or flames of any kind.

Cost: Zero (Surplus Stuff we should have thrown out years ago)

This is a picture of the 55 gallon Standpipe Wash barrel. I cut the bottom out of the barrel and it is now the top, and the two inlet/outlets are on the bottom. Notice all plumbing used is black pipe, except the brass shut-off valves.

Barrel: $10.00
2 3/4" ball valves: $15.86
3/4"X4.0" pipe: $1.28
3/4"X3.0" pipe: $1.06
2"X3/4" Bushing: $6.20
3/4"X8.0" Standpipe: $$3.63
2 3/4"X12" bottom extensions: $7.26
2 90 degree elbows: $2.44
Orbit Arizona Mist Kit: $13.99

Bottom of the barrel looking up:

Looking inside the barrel, you can see the 8" standpipe, that is where the washed biodiesel can be drained off. the other side is to remove the wash water. Yes, you actually wash the biodiesel with water.
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This is a 55 gallon barrel that has a removable top. This will be used to filter used waste veggie oil before I process it for bio diesel. A 200 micron filter fits inside the top. I love the front drain because I will have an approx. 2" settling area inside the barrel below the drain.

Barrel: Free
2X4's: $4.90
2"X3/4" Bushing: $3.99
3/4" Ball Valve: $7.93
200 micron Filter $7.48

The free hot water heater to convert to an Appleseed processor fell through. So I finally bought a new 50 Gallon one from Lowe's. This picture shows about 95% complete, decals gone, and all black (non galvanized) plumbing being installed (except one fitting). I also removed the Anode. The guage shown is a pressure guage. Both heating elements removed. The top element hole is plugged and the bottom element was replaced with a 1500W 115V element. When I get in full production, I will only have to heat 35 gallons of waste veggie oil to 130F while it is circulating. So the single 1500W, 115V element will suffice. This saves running a 220V Line to the processor. With only 35 gallons of oil, the top element will not be covered during circulation, that is why it is removed and plugged. When the methanol/KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) mixture is added there is no heat used from then on. Some do, but with approx. 5 gallons of methanol added for the reaction, the tank should hold the temp without further heat.

50 Gal. Hot Water Heater including tax: $226.77
115V 1500Watt Heating Element: $7.95
Pressure Guage: No cost, on hand over 30 years.
Temp. Guage: $15.00
5 1" Ball Valves @ $7.99 ea: $39.95
4 3/4" Ball Valves @ 5.99 ea: $23.95
Electric circulation pump: $25.99
Misc fittings and hoses: $100.00 (est)
Hose, 1" (circulation), 3/4" (sight tube) and 1/2" (Vent, 25') $34.87
(Pump and Ball Valves from Harbor Freight)
(All fittings and a couple ball valves from Lowe's)

I actually used 3 extra valves that are not absolutely necessary. I did this for safety reasons in case of a massive leak. Costly, but I won't dump 35 gallons of oil on the garage floor. If this was built for outside use, I would have not added the three extra valves, and I would not have needed 25' of 1/2" vent hose to vent the methanol vapors outside.

Everything is complete. The funnel is installed when needed to fill the processor.

Shows the pressure guage and the temp guage. Also the vent to the outside.
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Finally completed. I am waiting on the KOH, on order, and I have to locate some methanol. I did a leak test today with 3 gallons of WVO. No leaks so far in the static mode. I hope to have my first batch started sometime next week.

I am using 2 small places right now for oil. Next week, I will pursue the larger accounts. I can store up to 1900 liters with the barrels I have now. I have about 150 liters on hand right now. My first batch will probably be 75 liters (20 Gal).
Well today was the day. I loaded the processor with 87 Liters of waste veggie oil. Then I did a titration on the oil. It came out to a 1.3 grams of KOH per liter. So with a base of 5 and a 1.3 titration, I will need 6.3 grams KOH per liter.

I cannot make a large batch in the processor until I get some one to help me move a 55 gallon barrel of methanol so I can pour it out.

This is a picture of the 1 liter test batch. The top part is Biodiesel and at the 500 ML mark you can see the Glycerin is still dropping out. Have to look hard for a line or darker color. At the 100 ML mark the dark black is glycerin.


Close up of the glycerin

I forgot to mention, the glycerin had only been dropping out for about an hour when the above pictures were taken. Today it is all finished and is very black and a distinct line. All the biodiesel above the glycerin is now clear. When I get enough glycerin from the processor on my large batch, I will heat the glycerin for about 90 minutes, (outside) to boil off the methanol, about 150F. The glycerin is water soluble and is a super cleaning agent. I actually pour some in my bottles now and clean them using only glycerin. When I get enough glycerin stored up and boiled off, I will make a batch of soap with it.

Pabs and Brian, this has actually been a fun project. I have had a few people that have seen this thread want to come by and look at my set up. I had one person come by and I explained it to him. Now he and his Dad and Brother are all going to make bio diesel. They all 3 have diesel trucks and they have almost unlimited access to waste veggie oil. (300 gallons every 3 weeks). I think they are going to use an 80 gallon processor. More than I can handle, but I wish I had their WVO supply
Given my 100+ mile per day commute, homebrew would really help me! I just can't part with my 9-5! Well, unless it finally sludges up....

Tony, are you worried about your WVO supply?
Can this be the very beginnings of something BIG ??
I think so, but the primary source will be grown in our fields (rapeseed ??)..
Of course, NOTHING should ever just be "thrown out".., the "WVO" does have a value...

Remember, 100 - 120 years ago men were doing the same with petroleum....

Now, the dino oil must be saved for non-burning uses, of which there are hundreds..
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