My first attempt at biodiesel

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My first attempt at biodiesel

Post by Una »

I had a gallon of used veggie oil on my front porch, and decided to take a stab at making bio. I made some mistakes along the way, the first one was deciding to do it, and starting to do it, and doing the research on HOW to do it from my phone on the porch as I went.. hahaha.. Still, my test batch turned out.
I had it in two coffee cans. I actually had a full gallon, but after realizing you can't buy methanol at the hardware store, I had to settle on a crazy overpriced bottle of HEET that was only enough for a half gallon. Anyways, I was mixing WVO and Bio instructions, it's hard to tell where one set of instructions ends and the next begins.. Anyways, I heated it to 160 on the grill,
and then ran it through a filter. I found some info that said a T shirt is good for about 5-10 microns, and blue jeans are good for 1-2 microns.. Perfect, my kids are constantly outgrowing their clothes, so I have an endless supply of t-shirts and jeans. I found that the Jeans either reacted with the oil and made it darker, or the oil sucked the dye out of the jeans? The t-shirt did a fantastic job of filtering, there was only the slightest "dust" at the bottom of the container after I poured the t-shirt filtered oil out into the blue jeans. The blue jeans filtering took around 4 hours. It was insanely slow, literally a drop at a time coming out of the funnel.
I found out later, that between having let my WVO sit for a year, and the fact that I'm not running straight WVO, I didn't need to strain it before the bio process. Oh well.
So the next mistake was on the amount of lye to use.. I don't know where I got lost in translation, but somewhere along the way, I thought I only needed 3.5 grams for 2 liters of oil. So that's how much I mixed into my 12oz of methanol. I realized my mistake right after finishing mixing the whole thing together and setting it on the shelf to seperate..
So yeah, I mixed 3.7 grams or so of lye into my 12 ounces of methanol, then poured that into a 1 gallon jug that had a half gallon of oil in it. Then I shook it vigorously for 5 minutes. I don't think the oil was much over 100f at this point, if that. I shook that jug like nobodies business for a full 5 minutes. Then I placed it on the shelf in the garage. I didn't get a picture of it because I very quickly realized my mistake with the lye, and assumed I had just ruined my oil. I was a bit bummed and lost my motivation to document things.
The next day, after it had sat about 20 hours, I found this:
WooHoo! Game on, it was working! I let it sit two more days, that's all I ever got out of it. Not quite the 12 ounces of glycerin I should have gotten, but I'm willing to overlook that and move forward.
I poured the oil off the top into one of my pitchers again. Then I took it over to the garden hose, and poured a half gallon of water into it. Cold oil, cold water, poured it in "gently". I later found a guide that said I should have used very hot water (like 180f), and poured it gently down the wall of the container. Oh well. Worked out fine the way I did it.
I let that sit for a day, then drilled a hole in the bottom to drain off the water and bit of foam that had collected. I saved the first "batch" of soapy water, in case I want to try distilling the methanol back out of it in the future.
I then washed it 3 more times. At the third wash, I was getting pretty agressive with the washing, actually tossing the container around with the oil and water in it, and it'd separate back into separate halves within a few minutes, and the water was looking pretty clear when it came out. So I called it good. Then I grabbed one of my wife's nice pans, poured the cloudy wet oil into it, and put it back on the BBQ. It was 62f when I started, by the time it was up to 100f, it was obvious it was clearing up. As soon as it hit 130f it was as clear as apple juice. I ran it through a t-shirt one more time before putting it in a bottle for a photo-op. :) I'm not sure if the pan was dirty, or if I had gotten some debris from the garden hose into the oil, but it seemed to need filtering.
I put a receipt behind the bottle for the picture.. They say it's dry when you can read a newspaper through the oil. :)
So there it is, my first test batch, done with way too little lye. Probably not proper bio, but it's washed and dried properly. Watcha think?
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Re: My first attempt at biodiesel

Post by bscutt »

Impressive. Obviously an exercise in perseverance! If I had the room and the spare time I'd go down that path but I barely have time to handle all my daily tasks.

Congratulations - the real test it so see how the car runs on it.

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Re: My first attempt at biodiesel

Post by joat »

use methyl hydrate from wall mart in the paint department.. (wood alcohol)

mix up a batch with lye ( do a titration on the oil you are using )

pour in slowly to the veg oil while mixing ( WEAR GLOVES AND EYE PROTECTION !) the stuff eats skin, nerves , etc at the same rate .... until it reacts with the veg oil.

keep it all warm or it may gell on you while mixing.

do your wash to neutralize.

warm up again to distill the water, decant and use in warm weather only.
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