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Old 12-14-2010, 12:01 AM   #1
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Bio-diesel question

Is it worth the effort? Making your own, that is.

If you make your own;

1. How much and how long does it take to do?

2. Including gathering the raw materials to putting it in the tank, how long does a fill-up take?

3. All told, what does a gallon of fuel cost?
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Old 12-14-2010, 05:00 AM   #2
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Re: Bio-diesel question

my brother-in-law used to do the vegetable oil deal. this requires a kit to be put on the vehicle (mostly a separate fuel tank and system that purges the lines when shut off).

he got the oil for free at the local greasy spoon. the guy there told him he was happy about the deal since he actually paid to have the stuff disposed of. he had to filter and store the grease which took up space and time. he also said that when he went to pick up the grease, he pretty much had to take everything, even the rough looking stuff.

basically his was a start up cost being the kit to go on his truck and the filtering and storage equipment.

I know this isn't biodiesel but it was kind of neat. in the end, he didn't need the truck for anything but to look cool so he got rid of it.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:43 AM   #3
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Re: Bio-diesel question

1. How much depends on the size of your reactor, and other tanks. Most home brewers simply convert a hot water tank for a reactor. The reaction itself is fairly quick. As long as you have a place for it, multiple reactions in a small reactor are possible in a day.

The reaction is short, but the prep and product clean up take time. Waste oil stock will have to be filtered. Oil from any source needs to be checked for water, and dried if needed. Clean up takes awhile the lazy man way. It takes about a day for the glycerol and biodiesel to seperate. Once that occurs and you removed the glycerol, then you have to wash the biodiesel. This involves circulating some water with it to remove and traces of glycerol, soap, lye, and alcohol for several hours at least. Two to three water changes are needed depending on how dirty it is. The water doesn't readily mix with the biodiesel, but traces will be left behind. So the final step is drying it. Recirculating it in a long, shallow tank is the simplest way.

I'd say it takes about a week to make a batch this way. You could get additional equipment to speed it up, like centrifuges to seperate the biodiesel and glycerol, and heating elements for drying.

2. Not sure what exactly you're asking. Fill up time depends on whether you invest in a pump, or just use fuel jugs.

3. With free oil, the only other costs are the lye, methanol, filters, and reagents for acidity testing the oil. Likely under a dollar, but it depends on the condition of the oil.

Start up costs seem to run about as much as a greaser kit if you end up buying mostly new.

In terms of space and time needed, biodiesel only seems worth it if you have multiple vehicles or another use for it, like home heating. The WVO kit makes more sense with a single vehicle.

You don't have to make a leap to get into vegetable oil fuel or biodiesel. there's a farmer who mixes 2 gallons sunflower oil to 1 gallon of gasoline for a 'poor man's biodiesel' for his equipment. You can test it out with some cooking oil from a food warehouse before moving onto filtering WVO.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:53 AM   #4
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Re: Bio-diesel question

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Originally Posted by trollbait View Post
2. Not sure what exactly you're asking. Fill up time depends on whether you invest in a pump, or just use fuel jugs.
...or keep your storage tank higher than your vehicle. Of course you'll still need some kind of pump to move the liquid up there in the first place I guess.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:33 AM   #5
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Re: Bio-diesel question

if I were going to do it, I would do the veggie one simply for the time savings. no measuring, no mixing, no testing, just filter and go.

the one big one is to have the computer on your vehicle that purges the lines.

you start the vehicle on diesel (the bought stuff) until the auxilary tank warms up. it then switches over to the veggie juice. you drive wherever on veggie wonderness. when you turn the key off (reaching destination) it keeps the vehicle running but switches back over to the bought diesel. the idea is that the vegetable oil will solidify if it gets cold enough. the aux tank also has a heater.

another funny side affect is your exhauste smells like french fires.

I guess another big factor is a steady flow of free used oil.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:55 PM   #6
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Re: Bio-diesel question

As I thought. Fine for the super tree huggers, but utterly impractical in the real world.

Guess this is the best solution: http://www.greencar.com/articles/bio...el-company.php
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Old 12-15-2010, 04:04 AM   #7
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Re: Bio-diesel question

You don't need a computer to do that... Just switch tanks from veggie to dino a mile before your destination to purge the veggie juice from your fuel lines. Same goes for when you start out. Start on the dino tank, and switch tanks once the vehicle is warmed up.
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Old 12-15-2010, 04:20 AM   #8
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Re: Bio-diesel question

jay,

though I do agree with you there, it only takes one really bad morning to make you buy that computer.

a friend of mine was playing around with it on an older diesel car (maybe a mercedes) and he once forgot to purge the lines before he shut her off. the next day he had an interesting experience boiling water and saturating fuel lines trying to get the stuff to liquify again. he actually just abandonded the project after that. I don't think the car was worth much and he more wanted to see if he could do it. it was quite some time ago.

it isn't that you can't do it, it is more of a safety feature. this way, you don't forget to do it.


***edit***

just checked out the "BIOWILLIE" link. the name makes me think it is a competitor of viagr@.
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Old 12-15-2010, 05:39 AM   #9
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Re: Bio-diesel question

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Originally Posted by shatto View Post
As I thought. Fine for the super tree huggers, but utterly impractical in the real world.
Agreed. In my opinion, what's relatively practical for those willing to make the effort is commercially made pump biodiesel, and onboard-processed WVO (just dump it in and let the car do the filtering/etc).
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:34 AM   #10
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Arrow Re: Bio-diesel question

Quote:
Originally Posted by trollbait View Post
... you have to wash the biodiesel. This involves circulating some water with it to remove and traces of glycerol, soap, lye, and alcohol for several hours at least. Two to three water changes are needed depending on how dirty it is. The water doesn't readily mix with the biodiesel, but traces will be left behind. So the final step is drying it. Recirculating it in a long, shallow tank is the simplest way.
The cost to properly process & dispose of this contaminated water are probably beyond the average hobbyist/enthusiast doing this as a means of saving money. This water cannot legally be disposed of in a sewer or septic system (or tossed in the yard). You will have to either purchase & maintain equipment to process it on site, (its relatively simple equipment, but the initial purchase price is high considering what you get) or pay a waste removal company like Safety Kleen to remove and process it for you. The fines for improperly disposing of this waste water are hefty.
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