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shatto 12-13-2010 11:01 PM

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?

GasSavers_BEEF 12-14-2010 04:00 AM

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.

trollbait 12-14-2010 08:43 AM

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.

theholycow 12-14-2010 09:53 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question

Originally Posted by trollbait (Post 156459)
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.

GasSavers_BEEF 12-14-2010 10:33 AM

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.

shatto 12-14-2010 09:55 PM

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: https://www.greencar.com/articles/bio...el-company.php

Jay2TheRescue 12-15-2010 03:04 AM

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.

GasSavers_BEEF 12-15-2010 03:20 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question

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.


just checked out the "BIOWILLIE" link. the name makes me think it is a competitor of viagr@.

theholycow 12-15-2010 04:39 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question

Originally Posted by shatto (Post 156487)
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).

Jay2TheRescue 12-15-2010 08:34 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question

Originally Posted by trollbait (Post 156459)
... 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.

theholycow 12-15-2010 09:31 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
Couldn't the rinse water be re-used indefinitely?

Also, one may potentially slip it into a household hazardous waste disposal program.

Jay2TheRescue 12-15-2010 09:47 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
Well, it was stated that 2-3 changes of the rise water may be required per batch. This tells me that it is not reusable. Yes, you may be able to sluff some of it off in a hazardous waste collection, but those usually don't run continuously, and there's usually limits on how much one could bring in. Probably the best bet is to see if you can dispose of it with used motor oil, otherwise the costs of disposal will be cost prohibitive.

theholycow 12-15-2010 10:23 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
I wonder what existing home-brewers are doing about it...there's surely a good percentage of home-brewers who are environmentalists.

trollbait 12-16-2010 01:22 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question
The rinse water can be reused. Once in the rhythm of producing it, the dirtiest water is used for the first wash.

As for contaminated water, you are only dealing with soap, glycerol, and methanol. There may may be traces of lye, but not enough to be concerned about. The soap and glycerol are nothing. It isn't any more than what you already put down the drain. I'm sure there is some biodiesel in the water, but it's less toxic than table salt, and breaks down faster than sucrose in the environment.

The methanol is the only hazardous chemical left after the reaction. Serious home brewers use a vacuum distillation system to recover leftover methanol for reuse after the reaction is done.

The real issue for a home brewer is what to do with the glycerol recovered from seperation. Either making soap or using it for heating seemed to be the common ways of disposal. But that involves more work.

Joining a biodiesel co-opt is another avenue of getting it.

A couple computers ago, I had a good home brewer site bookmarked. I don't have a diesel vehicle, so lost track of it. Searching "Dr. Pepper bottle biodeisel" or "Appleseed Reactor" should turn up sites on home brewing.

Lug_Nut 12-22-2010 04:15 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question
There's no need to 'make' biodiesel, there are people and companies that do it, and do it better, and can afford the testing to certify that their fuel is suitable for use and have the proper disposal programs in place for the glycerol byproduct. I don't bake my own bread and I don't brew my own beer. I'm not about to make biodiesel either.
If you are the type that enjoys that labor and get a level of satisfaction from such, then get "GirlMark"s instructions on building your own "appleseed" biodiesel processor.
Me? I'm too lazy and I'd rather spend my time doing other things. I buy biodiesel at retail, not this B2 and B5 pretense stuff, but B99 and B100.
I drove from Portland ME to Portland OR (for TDIFest), and back, on nothing but commercially available, (not co-op, not members-only, not card-lock), road tax paid and legal, public access, ASTM certified, pump biodiesel. Pull up to the pump and hand over the credit card, and wash my windshield too please. And no jugs in the trunk either. There are enough B99 and B100 stations across the country that I was able to drive from one to another without carrying extra fuel.

Veg oil and heated fuel lines? Thank you! I bought the most recent TDI addition to my "Garage" from a former greaser that accepted throwing away $1000 a year for a new injection pump, because he saved that much in diesel (just broke even), but when the engine needed to be replaced after about 70k miles of grease use, he had enough. The replacement engine is in and all that grease crap has been removed and junked.

trollbait 01-03-2011 06:59 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
If it's available locally, then great. I too would rather be doing something else, but I haven't past any stations that carry it in my area. It's like E85. I wanted to try it in the Ranger, but I didn't want to drive into the center of Philly for it. Perhaps it will be different if and whenever I get a diesel.

shatto 01-03-2011 08:08 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question

Originally Posted by trollbait (Post 156919)
If it's available locally, then great. I too would rather be doing something else, but I haven't past any stations that carry it in my area. It's like E85. I wanted to try it in the Ranger, but I didn't want to drive into the center of Philly for it. Perhaps it will be different if and whenever I get a diesel.

Hmmmm; I've only seen one place, in Sacramento, with an E85 sign and I drive hundreds of miles a day.

Makes an interesting political point;
General Motors changed their lineup to 'flex fuel' vehicles to use an apparently difficult to find fuel, because in a flash of "I know best" brilliance, President Bush mandated the use of food for fuel and E85 was born.
And we know what happened to them. And the world economy because of that.

And President Obama wants electric cars.........
Hmmmmmm, indeed.

trollbait 01-04-2011 06:45 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
Whatever the reason for the lack of E85 stations and its use, it has lead to the morphing of the mandate into E10 and E15 by the EPA.

I'm fine with ethanol as an additive to replace MTBE.

As long as it's sourced correctly, not from food, there is nothing wrong with ethanol as a fuel for a vehicle designed for it. I think there are better options though.

Because E85 didn't take off, Ethanol producers are trying to force onto everyone through the government. Even though law mandating E85 doesn't cover other concentrations. The EPA does have a non-mandatory requirement for the use of E15 in all gasoline. The refineries are refusing to mix it because they don't want to be liable for problems it might cause.

As for EVs, the only groups vocally calling for them are mostly people who want them. Battery producers and mining companies would have an interest. However, unlike non-food grade ethanol, there is already a diverse market for their products. The established automakers have dragged their feet on EVs, because it means less business in repairs and basic maintance. They also have ties to oil companies.

Interest was growing before Obama's support. Tesla's roadster sold out, and there is a waiting list for their upcoming luxury sedan. Nissan has decided to skip over the hybrid segment in order to get early establishment in the EV market. Th!nk is planning a return. Ford announced that the new Focus was designed with ICE, hybrid, and EV drive trains in mind over a year ago.

Gas prices are rising. $4.00 by summer will likely happen. EVs will happen with or without government support.

dieselmech 01-04-2011 08:15 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
I hate getting political, but, the government CANNOT make a system more efficient by making people use something.
Think capitalism, if there is a market for something, people will buy it and use it. For the government to tell people to use something won't make it right,efficient,logical.

In Canada all the gm's are indeed "flex fuel".....but there are no flex fuel gas stations! (in the east coast anyway)
All new cars have nitrogen in the tires, our shop was going to buy two nitrogen generators to refill the tires on our fleet($19,000 total)
I freaked out and questioned why we needed it and was told "new cars come with nitrogen so to top up the tires we need these". I said for $19,000 we can put air in them! "but you can't mix nitrogen and air can you?" WHAT??? NITROGEN IS IN AIR!!! GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!
There are so many government mandated scams. You would not believe the amount of lightbulbs we go through in the offices now! CF lights don't last at all and don't light things up like incandescent..but gov says we have to buy them!

Obama wants electric cars...great, of course the power grid can handle the added load right? [added load? what do you mean?]

We'll power our cars with corn...even though HOW much of our food has ties to corn? STUPID!!!
If we could make fuel out of water the gov would screw it up and say to use potable water only then we'd have water shortages!

(see why I don't like to get political hehe)

If people want something, somebody will make it/sell it/make huge money off it. This is called capitalism with an entrprenuer. It works.
The government mandating the use of something means somebody has to make it and try to sell it, even if nobody wants it. Then they have to ask for subsidies/grants to float them because nobody is buying it. So the government makes everything the people want (the competition for the product) unavailable or outlawed so people HAVE to buy it.

Yes the government sickens me when I see the crap it jams down our throat "for our own good".
Free regulated markets is not an oxymoron.

theholycow 01-04-2011 08:52 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
LOL, nitrogen is MOST of what's in air...there's a little bit of oxygen, a tiny bit of CO2, and a minuscule amount of other stuff. If the non-nitrogen components leak out of a tire, then it stands to reason that after a few times topping off the tire it will be almost 100% nitrogen.

Your office needs to buy better CFLs. My house has loads of them and does not suffer from the problems you describe.

I don't think the government is trying to make people do these things for economic efficiency.

Jay2TheRescue 01-04-2011 09:58 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
CFL's last a long time in my house too. We were having lights blow out on our lightpost in the front yard every few weeks. About 2 years ago I got fed up with it and replaced the bulbs with CFL's and haven't changed a bulb since. I would say that 90% of the lighting in my house is CFL. Pretty much the only lights that aren't CFL are the fixtures on dimmers.

trollbait 01-05-2011 06:49 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
Having incentives to go electric or plug in hybrid isn't the same as being forced into it.

As for the grid, the power generation capacity is basicly there. Refining gasoline already takes a bit of electricity. Enough the propel an EV 25 to 35 miles per gallon made. Generally, using an EV will use the power freed up by the reduced gasoline production. Most charging will be done at night, off peak, when the grid isn't pushed to its limit.

EVs won't be showing up in everybody's driveway overnight. The Prius and Insight first came to market a little over 10 years ago, and hybrids are currently only about 3% of new sales. There'll be time to upgrade the grid. It needs to be done regardless of EVs on the road or not.

Oh, and another happy user CFLs. I've had some bad ones go early, same with the old bulbs though.

Fuel Miser 02-02-2011 05:46 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question

Originally Posted by Jay2TheRescue (Post 156975)
Pretty much the only lights that aren't CFL are the fixtures on dimmers.

Lutron markets a whole range of dimmers designed specifically for dimmable CFLs (I find the grand majority are dimmable now.)


shatto 02-02-2011 05:53 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question
Part of the reason for Egypt is our using food for fuel.

stickyburr 02-08-2011 02:28 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question
how about we end subsidies to oil companies . does anyone believe for one second they wont try to sell to the biggest consumer in the world? and if a gallon of refined (value added) oil is imported it is taxed with NO consideration for cost. the us government COULD try to buffer spikes in price. but its inevitable that the price will rise ALOT. domestic produced fuel should be taxed as a business.... if i import 1 million dollars of fuel in any form it should be taxed as 1 million dollars, if i raise and refine 1 million dollars of fuel for domestic use at the cost of 1/2 million then it should be taxed as the 1/2 million remainder. just like anything else imported also the importer shall be responsible for testing EVERY load for safety. ie cost of one inspector and benefits. say 150k a year or more depending on 'cost' and number of inspectors. pull a sampling from every tank on a ocean going vessel and test it for US standards. say a container of toys come in they should be sampled for contaminates ie lead pcbs etc etc. as if its made here there are standards that we have to follow to make widgets, fuel, food that we have to ensure that incoming products meet. also.. no more company employed usda inspectors PERIOD but they shall pay for quality standards inspector 24/7 if needed if i sell 200 heritage turkeys they can come check out my facilities to see if they are 'clean' and approve me to retail them. at small producer if the facilities are clean thats all that can be inspected really. but if i slaughter 200,000 they would obviously need to have some one there to sample.
public bribery and corruption shall be changed to treason if you cannot trust your public officials there is a huge problem as we are currently deal with and shall be punished as such.
also and the government shall follow its own rules for us. ie military shall follow EPA regulations.
while i am rambling income tax shall be made a flat tax with a average/standard cost of living exemption(what 10-15k tax exempt), we have no business redistributing 'wealth' or taxing our people to survive.

well . as far as domestic SVO as fuel i believe it is taxed and subsidized in the factory farm environment not as much local farm. this shall be a business environment tax if i sell at $X and it cost or i re-invest $Y then $X-$Y= taxable or if negative its deferable loss. bio-fuel shall be taxed on a commercial basis. if you sell x fuel you should be taxed as a business and road taxed. i am pretty sure i can sell pure veggi oil on farm what you do with it is your business as long as i dont sell it as "road fuel" or represent it as such.
one problem being i can raise better non-GMO niche low cost input oil and get WAY more than fuel price for it as food. so thinking i can will retail sell said oil instead of $8-16 a pint niche food oil as $0.50 a pint($4 a gallon) fuel is well laughable.i will burn for my own use what cannot be sold at niche price and most likely as much wvo i can prcess on farm for my use and anyone that has set up that wishes to help out. when fuel is sold at REAL market price near $8-$10 a gallon we will talk :D .

dieselmech 02-15-2011 07:09 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question
Stickyburr, I agree with some of what you said and don't with some.
Flat tax idea, LOVE it!
As far as oil...drill baby drill! (why are others drilling off the coast of florida but the US can't??????)
Clean coal, THAT'S the future!
Hydrogen, again, that's the future!
Military following epa or other standards? If you knew the inside on it you would see why they can't. Standards that can be met without restricting the military are being followed now. One example is locked crat's vehicles(radio/codes etc) cops, NOBODY opens the door unless 1) they have clearance and 2) if they have a need-to-know. Not one or the other, BOTH. Highway patrolman can kiss my ***, he ain't getting in a crat's veh for NOTHING! That goes for scales, etc.

skj_43 06-10-2011 06:45 AM

Re: Bio-diesel question
This person makes his own bio diesel and talks about waste veggie oil


trollbait 06-13-2011 01:06 PM

Re: Bio-diesel question
I've seen his site before. Technically, he isn't making biodiesel. He's just thinning SVO out with gasoline. It works, as long as going 100% non-petro isn't your goal.

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