Through March 31st, 2013, our awesome BioPro Automated Biodiesel Processors are on sale! $500 off theBioPro 150
$1000 off the BioPro 190 & BioPro 380 Add in the $1000 personal or 30% business tax credit (IRS Form 8911) and you’ve got one heck of a deal on these incredibly easy to use automated Biodiesel processors!
If you’ve not seen a BioPro, you really owe it to yourself to check one out! The machines are made from heavy duty chemical resistant stainless steel, have nearly every safety feature under the sun built into them, are extremely simple to use, and can make Biodiesel batch after successful batch one right after the other! Operating a BioPro is akin to running a dishwasher. Add oil, methanol, catalyst, either Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) or Potassium Hydroxide (KOH), sulfuric acid, and then push the start button and the BioPro takes care of the rest! After you drain the glycerin half way through the BioPro even washes and dries the Biodiesel on it’s own! How cool is that?!
Here’s more on the whole line up. The BioPro 150 Automated Biodiesel Processor- Makes up to 40 gallons every batch MSRP: $7352, Sale Price: $6852, After Tax Credit – $5852.00 Personal, $4796.40 Business
This little dynamo packs a mighty Biodiesel punch! It can process 40 gallons of oil into Biodiesel in 24 hours. Once reacted and the glycerin is drained, the Biodiesel can then be washed using the Spray Wash and Mix Wash Buttons. After each wash, the user simply drains out the wash water and either performs another wash or begins to dry the Biodiesel.
The BioPro 150 Automated Biodiesel Processor utilizes a 2 tank system to operate. Methanol & catalyst are placed in the catalyst tank while the oil is placed in the main tank. Heavy duty chemical resistant pumps transfer the methanol/catalyst mixture into the main tanks while a massive impeller driven mixer (think boat impeller on the end of a shaft and you’ve got the idea) churns the catalyst & oil into a thoroughly mixed batch. Indirect heaters mounted to the bottom ensure even heat distribution throughout the batch for optimum reactions. Once the batch has been reacted and settled, the glycerin is drained off through the heavy duty stainless steel ball valve at the bottom of the unit.
Next comes washing, which is also a breeze. With a pressurized water kit connected, it’s as simple as pushing the Spray Wash button on the front of the machine and letting the BioPro 150 do it’s magic. Inside, a heavy duty osculating water pump sprays water in a shower-like fashion down onto the Biodiesel to rinse away soap, excess methanol, and other contaminants. After each wash, water is drained by the user through the heavy duty stainless steel ball valve. Once washing is complete, the reacted and washed Biodiesel can then be easily dried by starting the wash cycle. You simply press the Dry button, take the lid off, and walk away! After the Biodiesel is dry, the Biodiesel can be pumped out of the self-contained unit using the heavy duty Biodiesel compatible transfer pump! It’s like having your very own self-contained gas station! The pump even has an auto shut off gas station style nozzle!
Imagine the BioPro 150 above on steroids and you have the BioPro 190! As the original BioPro Automated Biodiesel Processor, this amazing unit has a long history of success in helping literally hundreds of people make high quality batches of Biodiesel batch after successful batch!
It starts off with the same heavy duty stainless steel main tank, but then it add’s on the BioPro 150 by including a separate tank for methanol and another tank just for methoxide.
To make a batch in a BioPro 190, you add 50 gallons of oil, add a premeasured amount of catalyst (either Potassium Hydroxide-KOH or Sodium Hydroxide-NaOH), fill the two tanks with methanol to the proper level, push the start button, add the sulfuric acid, shut the lid & then it starts the process and reacts your oil into high quality Biodiesel! Come back at the 24 hours mark, drain off the glycerin, and then push the wash button and the machine will wash the fuel three times automatically and then dry it & have it ready for you to use 24 hours later! It even drains it’s own water!
Think of it like your Biodiesel making dish washer! You load it with oil and return to high quality, ready to use Biodiesel! And, like the BioPro 150, the BioPro 190 also comes with an auto shut-off fuel filler pump that includes six feet of transfer hose! It’s literally a fuel making machine you can run like a dishwasher to make up to 50 gallon batches every 48 hours. That’s up to 150 gallons of Biodiesel every week!
If you’d like to speed the process up a little, we also offer a factory installed INCOSEP accelerator that shortens the total cycle time by over 26 hours! When installed, your total cycle time is only 21.5 hours meaning you can make up to 7 batches every week which would yield up to 350 gallons a week! Want to speed it up even more! Just add a SpringPro T76 Biodiesel Dry Washing system to an INCOSEP enabled BioPro 150 and you can churn a batch out every 13 hours. If run 24/7, you could make 12 batches or 600 gallons every single week! Now that’s a lot of Biodiesel!
The BioPro 380 Automated Biodiesel Processor- Makes up to 100 gallons every batch MSRP: $14995, Sale Price: $13995, After Tax Credit: $12995 Personal, $9796.50 Business
Want to go all out? Then you’ve gotta check out the BioPro 380 Automated Biodiesel Processor! It’s twice the size of the BioPro 190 and can produce twice the output as well! That means it’ll generate up to 100 gallons of Biodiesel with every batch! It features the same dual methanol tank system, the same awesome sight glasses on the side, but we step it up a notch by including even powerful mixing motor to really get things going!
All the safety features are there too along with all the automation. From completely automated processing of the oil into Biodiesel to a completely automated wash cycle too that also drains the wash water and dries the fuel all on it’s own! Just like the BioPro 190, you just fill it with oil, add the chemicals and methanol, press the button and the BioPro 380 takes care of the rest!
Huge Potential Fuel Savings!
When you figure the average cost per gallon to make Biodiesel at about $1.25/gallon, the savings add up fast! Assuming diesel is running at about $4.00/gallon, you save $2.50/gallon for every gallon of Biodiesel used! With a BioPro 150, that’s a savings of up to $120 gallons a week. With a BioPro 190 in stock form, that’s about $375/week. Add an INCOSEP to the 190 and now you’re at $875/week in savings! Add the SpringPro T76 to the mix, and now you’re up to $1500/week in potential savings!
With the BioPro 380 in stock form, that’d be $750/week in savings. Add an INCOSEP and it jumps up to $1750/week in potential savings. Throw a SpringPro T76 Dry Wash System into the mix and you have a potential to save a whopping $3125 in fuel costs per week!
Check out these great success stories!
Restaurant owner Sam Menalakis makes Biodiesel in a BioPro 190 and loves it!
Plus, check out this awesome success story from a customer who’s owned and operated his BioPro 190 every day for the last 5 years! Click here to see the story
With savings like these, the BioPro’s tend to pay for themselves very quickly!
So, if you’re up for saving some big time money on fuel costs plus getting tax incentives plus scoring a sweet $1000 off a BioPro 190 or a BioPro 380 or $500 off a BioPro 150, then March is your time to save big time! But you’ll need to act fast! The sale only runs through March 31st & once it’s over, the prices go back up!
In doing our complete overhaul of the Utah Biodiesel Supply Blog, we had a chance to review several of the articles that are available here. Seeing as we’ve been blogging since 2006, there was a lot to sift through!
So, here goes, welcome to The Utah Biodiesel Supply Blog’s “Greatest Hits!”
Our Biodiesel 101 Series - This series of articles highlights “just the basics” when it comes to making Biodiesel.
Collecting Oil 101 – The Basics This is where it all starts. Getting the oil you’ll need to make Biodiesel from. We walk you through a set of 7 tips & tricks to get not only oil to make Biodiesel, but the right kind of oil to make producing the fuel easier!
Biodiesel Emulsions 101 – Preventing and Curing Them When water washing, it’s possible to accidentally make something called an emulsion. In this tutorial we talk about why they occur, how you can prevent them from happening and also how to fix one if you unfortunately get one while water washing your Biodiesel
Dry Washing Biodiesel 101 Learn what dry washing is, what technologies exist to do dry washing, the benefits of dry washing along with the drawbacks of using this technology to purify your Biodiesel
Biodiesel Tutorial Vidoes Check out this great video tutorial series! We walk through the basics of what it takes to start making Biodiesel!
Our Testing Articles Testing your Biodiesel is key! These articles highlight how to do it right!
Titrating Oil 101 – A Refresher Course Learn how to properly titrate vegetable oil so you can identify how much catalyst will be required to make a batch of Biodiesel.
Understanding How Biodiesel Is Made This article is a smorgasbord of links and tips for learning about the chemistry about making this great fuel; including a link to a video presentation from a Biodiesel production specialists that goes deep into all the chemical reactions that occur when Biodiesel is produced.
Our Ultimate Getting Starter Guide This one’s the big kahuna! We start from scratch and walk you through everything you’ll need to know to get you started making great Biodiesel! It’s so good it became a page on our website!
Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) vs. Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) In this article we detail the major differences between using Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) and Caustic Potash (Potassium Hydroxide) when making Biodiesel and the effect it plays on the finished Biodiesel and glycerin produced.
And there you have it! Our list of “The Greatest Articles” on the Utah Biodiesel Supply Blog! If you have a chance, poke around a bit & check out all the fun we’ve had over the years. Also, check out our Biodiesel Articles Index page on the main site as well! It has links to several more articles not covered here.
Making Biodiesel in a cold environment can bring with it several challenges. The oil is thicker and likes to gel, the glycerin likes to get thick, it’s possible to get a poorly reacted batch due to heat loss, and water washing can just be a complete nightmare.
So, we figured we’d share some of our tips & tricks for successfully making the good stuff when the temperatures are low.
1- Use The Right Collection Pump
Cold weather can thicken oil making it really difficult to pump. Most small 12 volt pumps pretty much croak & die in cold weather, so be sure to get one that’s up to the job.
While both vegetable oil and motor oil get thick when they get cold, motor oil tends to stay liquid no matter how cold it is outside. When the vegetable oil turns hard as a brick, it’s obvious–the stuff isn’t going to move! But with motor oil, it just gets thicker but never really goes solid, giving the illusion that “yeah, it’ll pump!”
In reality, thick, cold motor oil is an absolute bear to transfer and will stress electric motors quite a bit. With the gas engine powered model, you’ll have quite a bit more torque and power to move it–even when it’s really thick & really cold!
2- Get The Water Out Of The Oil Before Processing It In the winter, water in the oil seems to be 10x worse. It’s harder to get rid of (because it’s cold in the room), it thickens the oil even more, and it makes for a mess when you try and react it into Biodiesel.
To test the oil for water content, we really like using our Deluxe Water Test Kit! The kit works with a chemical called Calcium Hydride that reacts with any water in the oil to produce hydrogen gas. The gas registers as pressure inside the vessel on the gauge. The reading is then compared to a chart and converted into water content as either parts per million or percentage water content.
For oil being processed into Biodiesel, we like the water content to be no higher than about 2500 PPM (0.25%). If the oil titrates above a 6 using KOH Titration Solution, then we recommend getting the water content under 1500 PPM (0.15%) as it will help the batch react more completely and potentially produce less soaps (which makes it easier to water wash).
3- Filter The Oil Before Processing If your oil is like most used oil, it’s loaded with food particles, fat, and other nasty stuff!
In order to make a good batch of Biodiesel from the oil, you’ll need to adequately filter it. In the winter, this can especially be a chore because the thickened oil doesn’t like to go through a filter very well. To make it easier, we recommend heating the oil up in a 55 gallon drum with a heavy duty band heater. You just need to get it warm enough so that it flows well, typically that’s above about 70-80 deg. F
Once heated, run the oil through a filter to remove all the junk out of it. In the winter we find that our 55 gallon stainless steel drum filters do exceptionally well. These filters filter not only through the bottom but also through the sides; which makes it easier for the oil to flow through them faster. For producing Biodiesel, we recommend going with 400 micron or smaller. Also, if the oil still acts stubborn while going through the filter, you can use a heat gun on the filter itself to heat it up; which will melt any stubborn oil and let it flow through easier.
4- Titrating The Oil
Another problem area in the winter is titrating cold oil. The problem is that the thickened oil doesn’t like to dissolve into the isopropyl alcohol creating more of a glob of oil sinking to the bottom of your titration cup. To help deal with this issue, we recommend taking a small sample of oil and heating it up a bit. This can be done in the microwave, with a heat gun, or believe it or not, by simply holding the oil in it’s container in your hand for a few minutes.
Also, be sure that the isopropyl alcohol is also warm enough to dissolve the oil as well. Typically, it needs to be above 65 deg. F; usually typical ambient room temperature will work. Once the oil and the alcohol are warm, then mix them together and ensure that the oil dissolves into the alcohol. If you see globs on the bottom, then either the oil or the alcohol is still cold; which will cause a bad reading. Once the oil and alcohol dissolve well, perform a titration 3 times and then take the average between all three.
5-Insulate Your Biodiesel Processor & Wash Tanks If you’re processing your oil into Biodiesel in an unheated room, we highly recommend insulating your Biodiesel processor & wash tanks. We insulated our BioPro 190 Automated Biodiesel Processor several years ago with a really cool product called ArmaFoil and have been really impressed with the results.
Whether you use ArmaFoil, double-foil backed bubble wrap, water heater insulation, spray foam, or some other insulation, the key point here is to do it! We’ve seen people use everything from sleeping bags & foam, to blankets & bungee cord. As long as your processor is covered on the sides with insulation, it’s going to help!
As an example of how effective this is, one day we measured the temperature of some oil prepped for processing in our BioPro 190 with a laser thermometer at 130 Deg. F. When we measured through the glass window at the bottom, we could read about 100 Deg. F, however, when we pointed it at the high tech insulation we used, it read 78 Deg. F. That means the insulation was doing it’s job of keeping the heat IN the processing tank.
When securing insulation to metal or poly tanks, we’ve found the HVAC metalized duct tape works best! Also, be sure & clean the exterior of your tank before applying the insulation. Otherwise, the tape won’t stick and the insulation will soon fall off. When insulating a poly tank, it’s always a good idea to leave a small slit down the side uninsulated so that you can still see the liquid level in your tank. No wider than 1″ should do just fine.
6- Heat Your Biodiesel Back Up BEFORE Water Washing
If you water wash your Biodiesel in an unheated room, be sure to bring the heat of the Biodiesel back up to at least 80 to 100 Deg F before attempting to water wash it. If you’re water washing with really cold water (say water temp below 50 Deg. F), I’d recommend heating the Biodiesel to 100-110 Deg. F (remember, the cold water will be like taking a cold shower–it’s going to cool the Biodiesel down as it flows through it REALLY FAST!).
If you’re using a BioPro Automated Processor, it’s pretty easy. I just flip the HEAT switch on before I start reacting a batch of oil and I don’t turn it back off until the batch is finished. This trick keeps the heat running even when the glycerin is settling out so that the Biodiesel is nice & hot when you wash it (it also makes the glycerin flow out of the tank easier too–especially if NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide, Lye) was used.
For other style processors, you can utilize heavy duty electric band heaters, inline heaters connected to a pump that circulates the oil past a heating element, or even something as simple as a drop in heater. The key here is to keep the temperature of the Biodiesel between 80 to 110 deg. F during all the washing. Keep a thermometer handy and measure the temperature periodically to ensure you’re not dropping below 80 deg. F
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are washing in a plastic tank and plan on heating it with a drop in heater, be careful not to let the heater tough the sides of the plastic tank anywhere; the hot element can melt the tank really fast and make a big mess (and potentially even a fire). Also, if you’re heating in a plastic tank, we strongly recommend monitoring the tank to make sure you don’t heat it too hot. Plastic tanks don’t hold up well much past 140 to 160 deg. F, so watch the temperature carefully. If you need an easy way to do this, grab one of our 12″ long stem thermometers and attach it to the tank so that it’s reading the Biodiesel temperature at all times.
7 – Wash Heated Biodiesel With Luke-Warm Water
Use luke-warm water (80 to 100 Deg F) to wash your Biodiesel with. Especially if you’re using softened water or washing a batch of Biodiesel that was reacted with Potassium Hydroxide.
Really hot water (water above 130 deg F) can tend to cause foaming and even exacerbate emulsions. Particularly if you’re using water that’s been softened by a household water softener. This is especially true when washing batches reacted with Potassium Hydroxide (KOH). Soaps formed from KOH tend to “suds up” much easier than Sodium Hydroxide reacted batches. If the Biodiesel itself is nice and warm, it doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue, but it can still occur if the water spraying onto it is too hot.
There’s also a few tricks for keeping emulsions at bay. The first one is to add some vinegar to your wash water or Biodiesel that you’re washing. Usually a gallon of vinegar to every 50 gallons of Biodiesel is a good starting point. The slightly acidic vinegar helps to keep the soaps from mixing with the water to the point of causing an emulsion. The second tip is that if you do unfortunately create an emulsion, all is not lost. Simply grab some rock salt, dissolve it in water, and add it to your emulsion and watch the emulsion melt right before your eyes! It’s a pretty cool trick and it works really well! Check out our full article on how this works.
8- Test Biodiesel For Soap Content To Identify When Done Washing
The reason we wash Biodiesel is to remove any soap that was formed during the production process. Typically, this takes about 3 water washes to get to the point where most of the soaps have been removed. Once you’re wash water starts to come out clear, it’s time to test the fuel for soap content to see if it’s ready to be dried.
A really simple test I recommend for checking gross soap levels in Biodiesel is called The Shake-Em Up Test.
The test is performed by pulling a sample of the fuel you’re washing and mixing it 50/50 with some distilled water in a glass container (any small drink container or even mason jar will work). Shake the container up well and then allow it to sit for about an hour. After about an hour, inspect the water that’s settled to the bottom. If the water is mirky or milky looking, you need keep on washing. However, if the water is nice and clear, then you’ve removed the majority of the soap from the Biodiesel.
Just a couple of notes about performing the Shake-Em Up test in cold weather
1) Use distilled water if you have it. If not, tap water will do, but minerals in the water can sometimes throw the test
2) Use warmed Biodiesel and warm or luke-warm water.
3) Let the bottle settle in a room where the temperature is above 65 deg. F
While a Shake-Em Up test does a fairly good job of letting you know if there’s still a lot of soap in the fuel, it’s doesn’t let you know just how much soap is actually there. To identify what the actual soap levels are, you’ll need to perform a Soap Titration Test on the fuel. We carry a full line of Soap Test Kits that easily let you measure the soap levels very accurately.
For many years the Shake-Em Up test was the only one recommended to test for soap levels. However, because the test is subjective (“Yep! Water looks clear!”), it’s not very good at letting you know what the actual sooap levels are. So, why should you care about this? Well, soap in Biodiesel is one of the leading causes of plugged fuel filters. Soap in Biodiesel also has the tendency to get thick and coagulate when it’s cold. So, if you’re planning on using your Biodiesel during cold weather, it’s extremely important to ensure you have removed as much of the soap as possible.
The ASTM Standard for Biodiesel doesn’t really have soap limits in it directly, but they do specify limits for Sodium and Potassium; which are believed to come from elevated soap levels in the fuel. So, by performing a soap titration test on your fuel, you’ll know if you truly have the soap levels low enough to start drying.
Dry Washing Note:
Performing a soap titration test on fuel that has been dry washed is particularly important. This is because it’s extremely difficult to see the soaps in dry washed fuel. Because no water is used to wash the fuel, the Biodiesel may appear to be nice and clear, but can still be loaded with soap. So, if you dry wash your fuel; and particularly if you plan on using the Biodiesel in colder weather, I can’t stress strongly enough, SOAP TEST YOUR FUEL!
9- Drying Washed Biodiesel Biodiesel needs to be adequately dried before it can be used in diesel engine vehicles or home heating appliances. This is particularly important when it’s being used in colder temperatures. The reason is that if it still has water, the water can drop out of the fuel and really cause havoc on your fuel system. However, drying Biodiesel in the cold can be somewhat of a challenge. So, just like drying the oil, we recommend utilizing a heat, circulate, and spray method.
This can be accomplished in your processing or wash tank, or by building a special drying tank such as our oil/biodiesel drying tank.
The reason this method works so well is that it creates much more surface area with the Biodiesel to come in contact with the ambient air; which then helps allow the moisture to evaporate faster out of the Biodiesel.
In other words, the secret is in the spray pattern. As the Biodiesel thins out and is sprayed into a vessel, air both below and above the Biodiesel allow the moisture to evaporate up and away! If you’d prefer not to build a dedicated drying tank, you can still get away with spraying the fuel using a Dry Pro nozzle to get the same effect; even if it’s in your processing or washing tank!
Just like drying oil, you’ll want to get the temperature of the Biodiesel up nice & hot. In the case of drying Biodiesel, we recommend getting it to anywhere between 80 and a 130 deg. F. The hotter the better (allowing for considerations for the vessel you’re drying it in ie. don’t heat it hotter than the tank can handle). In order for this method to work effectively, it’s extremely important that the top of the vessel be open to the air. Otherwise, as water evaporates and rises it’ll simply hit the top of the vessel, condense, and fall back into the Biodiesel making it wet again. So make sure you have a nice, wide opening at the top if you plan to use the Heat/Circulate/Spray method.
Also, you can speed the drying process up by blowing air across the top of the vessel. This will create a low air pressure above the drying tank and the moisture will get sucked up and away. We’ve seen it speed up the drying by quite a bit!
Biodiesel Water Limits: As with drying oil, this is where using a Deluxe Water Test Kit really comes in handy! Use it to measure the water content of your finished Biodiesel. The ASTM Limit for water in Biodiesel is no more than 500 PPM (0.05%), so be sure & test to make sure you’re within that specification. As indicated above, getting all the water out of Biodiesel is extremely important in cold weather. Otherwise, it can contribute to icing in the fuel lines, fuel tanks, and fuel filters plus, water can also cause corrosion to occur in the fuel system itself. Suffice it to say, you want to get as much of it out as possible.
10- Test The Gelpoint Of Your Biodiesel One simple test you can do on the Biodiesel you produce is to measure the temperature that it gels at. A simple method for doing this test is to take a jar of your Biodiesel and place it outside where you park your vehicle. Then, as it gets cold outside, watch the jar each morning to see if it’s gelling up. Placing a thermometer nearby is also helpful too!
If you notice that the Biodiesel has gelled, then it’s a good time to note it. Given enough cold nights, you’ll be able to get a good feel for the temperature at which your Biodiesel gels at. In general, oils that are less dense (Canola & Safflower Oil) tend to gel at lower temperatures than oils that have higher density’s (Soybean, Peanut, Olive, & Coconut Oils). You can lower the temperature at which your Biodiesel gels at by adding kerosene or petro diesel to it. You can see what blend level is ideal for your area by creating several blends in separate bottles and leaving them outside and watching them over several days. Given some time, you’ll be able to find the optimal blend of Biodiesel to kerosene/diesel fuel that will keep your fuel from gelling on you.
Several years back, we did a biodiesel gel point study. We made Biodiesel from several different kinds of oils, placed samples of them outside, and then let winter in Utah happen. The results were pretty drastic! Our Canola Biodiesel sample by far did the best while our Peanut Oil sample gelled really fast! The Soybean Biodiesel sample was pretty close to our Peanut Oil Biodiesel sample, while the Corn Oil Biodiesel sample was about middle of the road.
A note about anti-gel additives:
In general, diesel fuel anti-gel additives have no effect on lowering the gel temperature of Biodiesel. Study after study has born this out. While there are anti-gel additives on the market that specifically list Biodiesel as a fuel they will treat, most people find that the results are minimal at best and that any benefit afforded by using the anti-gel additive isn’t worth the money paid for the additive. In other words, diesel fuel or kerosene work much better and are much cheaper than any Biodiesel anti-gel additive available on the market. In our own testing we did see decent results with Amsoil Cold Flow Improver, but it wasn’t a significant effect.
My general recommendations are to start with a 50/50 mix of Biodiesel to diesel fuel and test from there. The oil you’re using to make Biodiesel from may vary somewhat, but by testing the gel point of your Biodiesel as well as what blend works best for your climate, you can help avoid getting stuck on the side of the road with a gelled up fuel filter in the cold.
11- Filter Finished Biodiesel Our final tip for making Biodiesel in cold temperatures is to filter your finished fuel through a Biodiesel compatible fuel filter. We filter our fuel through a 10 micron GPI fuel filter attached right to the side of our BioPro 190 Automated Biodiesel Processor and have seen really good results with it.
We make sure our fuel is well washed so we average about 2,000 to 3,000 gallons through our filter before we have to swap it out. Pre-filtering your Biodiesel through fuel filters also saves money too! Our GPI Fuel Filters or our Golden Rod fuel filters are typically a heck of a lot cheaper than the on board vehicle fuel filters. They’re also a lot more convenient to replace when one plugs up vs. plugging the one on your vehicle on the road somewhere.
As for what micron fuel filter to pre-filter with, we recommend identifying what the micron rating on your vehicle fuel filter is and then filter down to at least that level. For example, our GPI & Golden Rod fuel filters both filter down to 10 microns. If you need to go smaller, we recommend using one from the Bio-Tek line of Cim-Tek branded fuel filters. They even offer them in a water separating version called a Cim-Tek Bio-Tek Microglass Hydroglass fuel filter.
Adding one of these fuel filters to a fuel transfer pump is a breeze too! Our Golden Rod fuel filters come with the mounts built into them and our GPI fuel filters can be ordered with a mount that connects right up to any 3/4″ hose fitting.
Since fuel filters are so inexpensive to purchase and easy to install, we highly recommend using them all the time. Plus, if you use them to pre-filter your Biodiesel through in colder weather, it’ll be just one more preventative step you can take in keeping your fuel from gelling up on you in your vehicle.
What To Do If Fuel Gels Up: Sometimes no matter what steps you take to make your Biodiesel, it still gets so cold outside that the Biodiesel can gel up on you. If this happens, all is not lost. Simply move your vehicle into a heated garage, point a heat gun or even a hair blow dryer at the fuel filter and heat it back up, or even use a “trouble-lamp” (metal caged lightbulb on the end of an extension cord) near the fuel filter to warm it back up enough to get the engine running again.
We also offer a really nice line of fuel filter heaters as well that can help keep you running Biodiesel in high blends even when it’s cold outside.
Check out our video we did highlighting these cold weather Biodiesel tips & tricks as well!
So, there you have it! Our tips & tricks for successfully making Biodiesel in the cold! We’ve had several customers all over the world successfully make and use Biodiesel all winter long by using these simple, easy to follow tips. So, if you’re up to brewing in the cold, now you know how! Happy brewing!
One of the easiest ways to remove water from oil & Biodiesel is to heat & circulate it.
This can be done in a number of ways, but a really easy method for doing it is to build a simple dewatering tank using a 55 gallon drum, a transfer pump, a heater, and a spraying nozzle.
The basic theory is that spraying heated oil in a thin film will help the water to more easily evaporate. This creates a large surface area for the water to escape from the oil (air on both sides of the thin film) and with the oil heated, the water can more easily escape.
To accomplish this, you’ll want a spray nozzle that creates as fine of a film of oil as possible but doesn’t turn the oil into a mist. While misting the oil will work, it’s a sure way to also cover the rest of your work area with oil.
Making The Spray
To create the oil film, you can cut a notch out of a pipe and cap the end and run the heated oil through the pipe, or you can purchase pre-built nozzles, such as our Dry Pro Nozzle. The goal is to simply make a fan like spray in as wide of a pattern as possible.
Heating The Drum
The next step is to be able to safely heat the oil in the drum. We’ve seen everything from drop in bucket heaters, to heater spears (see Rilla Biofuels for a sweet, pre-built inline heater), to inline heaters that the oil circulates past on it’s way to the nozzle. But one of the safest methods is to attach a band heater to the outside of the drum.
This keeps the heating element away from the oil and also has the added benefit of evenly distributing the heat through the oil. Basically, you just need a reliable way to heat the oil up in the drum before it starts being circulated.
Circulating The Oil
Once the oil is heated, it’ll need to be circulated through the nozzle. One of the easiest ways to do this is to weld a fitting to the bottom of a drum (or attach a bulk-head fitting) and attach a transfer pump to the drum to pump the heated oil up to the nozzle.
The pump can be pretty much anything available. We find the inexpensive 1″ transfer pumps work really well. For piping, we recommend using black steel as it’s heat resistant and won’t break on you as easily as PVC Pipe or clear tubing might.
Plumbing The Tank
Nothing special here. You just need to connect the barrel to the pump, the pump to pipe, and the pipe to the nozzle as close to the top of the drum as possible.
Here’s a basic layout we came up with that uses as little plumbing as possible, but you can use whatever works best for you:
Once you get it all plumbed up, give it a test with some water to make sure the plumbing is all sealed up (water is a lot easier to clean up than an oil leak). Once you’re leak-proof, you’re ready to go.
We do recommend adding a by-pass valve though as we show in the diagram. This allows you to control how aggressively your spray nozzle spray’s and also makes a handy way to transfer the oil out of the tank.
Instructions For Using The Tank
1) Fill the tank up about 2/3rds of the way full
2) Turn on the heater and bring the oil temperature up to at least 100 deg. F
– The hotter you can get the oil, the faster it will dry
3) Turn on the pump and start circulating the oil
How Fast It Dry’s
If your oil is REALLY wet (flunks a hot pan test something terrible), then it can take several hours to dry. But if it’s just slightly wet, usually 2-6 hours can get the job done. If the ambient room temperature is low (ie. below 60 deg. F) or if it’s really humid, it can take longer to dry, but given enough time, it’ll dry the oil out.
Tips & Tricks
- Adjust the spray of the oil so that it’s not spraying too hard to cause oil to come out of the drum (use the by-pass valve)
- Place a fan next to the drum & blow air ACROSS the top of the drum (not into the drum & not sucking out of the drum, but across the top).
- This creates a low air pressure above the drum and the moisture will get sucked up & blown away faster
- Plumb a temperature gauge into the plumbing. Usually just above the pump or just before it goes into the tank are ideal spots.
This article is a simplified version of what happens at the molecular level when Biodiesel is made. It’s meant to help you understand what’s going on when Biodiesel is produced and can help you trouble shoot any problems you may run into when producing Biodiesel.
Biodiesel starts out in the form of an organic oil molecule called a triglyceride. These are molecules with three fatty acid chains connected to a glycerol backbone.
To make Biodiesel, a catalyst is needed; either Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) or Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). The catalyst is then dissolved into methanol to create what is called methoxide. The oil is heated and the methoxide is mixed in and the chemical reaction begins.
As the catalyst is mixed with the oil, it breaks the chemical bond between the fatty acid chain and the glycerol back bone. A methanol molecule then attaches to the fatty acid chain and a Biodiesel molecule is created (technically called a Fatty Acid Methyl Ester).
This process, technically called transesterification, repeats itself until all the fatty acid chains are stripped away from the glycerol backbone and reacted into Biodiesel.
[METHANOL--FATTY-ACID-CHAIN] = BIODIESEL
So, this is the way it happens in theory. Break the bond between the fatty acid chain and glycerol and attach each fatty acid to a methanol resulting in Biodiesel molecules. This all happens in sequence meaning that each fatty acid chain is broken away one at a time.
To help the explanation out, it’s important to know that a glycerol molecule with 3 fatty acid chains is called a triglyceride. If it’s lost one fatty acid chain and only has two still connected it’s called a diglyceride. And if it only has one fatty acid chain left, it’s called a monoglyceride (Tri=three, Di=two, and Mono=one). If there are no fatty acid chains attached, it’s called Free Glycerin.
So, that’s how it happens in theory….in the real world, things are much different. What usually happens is that before the catalyst & methanol even get added, many of the oil molecules are already missing fatty acid chains.
This occurs naturally as the oil ages or as the oil is used in fryers under extreme heat. This means that waste vegetable oil tends to have a lot of diglycerides and monoglycerides in it (glycerol molecules missing some of their fatty acid chains). The older the oil is or the longer it was used under heat, the more of them there are.
When the fatty acid chains break off through aging or through heat, we refer to them as free fatty acids (or FFA’s). This is because they’re not hooked to any other molecules. There’s a lot of fancy chemistry that explains how they break away from the glycerol molecules, but for the purpose of this article, let’s just assume that the chemical bond that held the fatty acid to the glycerol has “rusted” away. This means that each “free-fatty acid” has one end that’s rusted and there’s a bit of rust still left on the glycerol backbone. We’ll designate the rust with an r.
(MONOGLYCERIDE EXAMPLE WITH “RUSTED” BONDS)
When we try to make Biodiesel with free fatty acids in the oil, these free fatty acid chains start attacking the catalyst and form soap.
[CATALYST-rFATTY-ACID-CHAIN] = SOAP
If there’s enough free fatty acids in the oil, we end up with lots of soap and not enough catalyst left over to break all the bonds of the remaining tri, di, and monoglcyrides molecules. In other words, we end up with soap, unconverted oils (tri, di, & mono’s), and some Biodiesel. I like to call this mixture partially reacted Biodiesel; because there’s still so much unreacted oil left in it.
To counter this problem, we do something called an oil titration on the oil. What we’re doing when we titrate oil is measuring how many free fatty acids there are in the oil. Think of it like literally counting all the fatty acid chains that have broken away from glycerol molecules.
Once the free fatty acids are all counted (the titration number), we use that number to tell us how much extra catalyst to add to the reaction to ensure we react all the free fatty acids into soap. Then, when we’re done making soap, we still will have enough catalyst left over to break the bonds on fatty acid chains still attached to glycerol molecules which is then reacted with methanol into Biodiesel. We call making Biodiesel this way a “base reaction”. A strong base (KOH or NaOH) reacts with the oil and methanol to make soap and Biodiesel.
The more free fatty acids that a given oil has, the less Biodiesel we will get out of it. This is because we’re reacting fatty acids into soap instead of Biodiesel–remember, it’s the fatty acids combined with methanol that make Biodiesel. If there’s a lot of free fatty acids in the oil, that means there’s a lot less fatty acids left that we can make into Biodiesel. So, the higher the titration a given oil has, the less Biodiesel you’re going to be able to get out of it.
So, to get well converted Biodiesel, we always titrate the oil, add the extra amount of catalyst required to “neutralize” the free fatty acids into soap and then still have enough left over to fully strip the remaining tri, di, and mono glycerides of their fatty acid chains and react them into Biodiesel.
And that’s the basics of the chemistry behind how Biodiesel is made.
Check out the video below for a visual example of this article using my hands.
Want an easy way to load and unload your ArborPure, Eco2Pure, or BD-Zorb wooden dry wash media from your dry wash tower? Then check out this awesome trick sent in by Kyle Schueller from New Mexico!
Kyle loads his wooden fiber media into disposable paint strainers first and then loads them into his dry wash tower. This makes it a cinch to load the tower and makes it incredibly easy to unload the tower once the media is spent!
Whether you’re using a SpringPro T76 like Kyle or one of our other great Dry Wash Towers, this trick will make loading and unloading your fiber media a breeze!
This method won’t work with Ion Exchange Resin because it expands too much, but it’s perfect when using wooden fiber media!
Click on any of the pictures below to see a bigger version of the shot!
Cut a tote in half and place it near the dry wash towers
Tilt the dry wash tower forward and attach a chute. The chute can be made out of a cut up 5 gallon bucket
Get a 5 Gallon Bucket and some paint strainers
5 Gallon Paint Strainers with elastic bands work best (you can pick these up from a hardware store such as Home Depot
Place the paint strainer inside the 5 gallon bucket with the elastic band around the top
Grab your fiber media and a scoop
Fill the bucket until it’s about 7/8 full
Pull the top of the filter off the bucket and bring the ends together
Clip the top together with a large paperclip
Remove the strainer and prep another one
You can put the filled strainers in the tote in preparation for loading the tower
Place the strainer with the top up inside the tower. Then gently push it all the way into the dry wash tower with a metal rod
Once all of them are in the tower, use the rod to hold them in place.
Place the bottom back on being careful not to let the strainer get caught between the lip of the tower and the bottom plate (you can use the ram-rod to keep the strainers in place), tighten the bottom plate, remove the chute, swing the tower back into place, and reconnect the fittings.
Load the tower with biodiesel through the top, cap everything and you’re done!
To remove spent media, swing the tower back out, attach the chute, place a pan under it and drain biodiesel out of the tower
Remove the bottom dry wash tower plate and let it drip into the catch pan
Here’s a close up of what the bags will look like
Reach up into the tower and pull down on the strainer
Here’s a shot of removing the third strainer
Here’s what it may look like once it’s out.
Reach up into the tower and retrieve the second strainer. You can also use the ramrod from the top to push them downward to make them easier to reach
Pull on the strainer and remove it from the tower
If the last strainer is difficult, remove the pan and use the ramrod
Here’s a shot of what they look like once they’ve been removed.
Use the ram rod to remove any remaining debris inside the tower. The tower is now empty and ready for new fiber media!
As part of the bill, the $1 per gallon Biodiesel Blenders Credit was extended through the end of 2013. The incentive offers those producing commercial grade biodiesel the opportunity to apply for a $1.00 incentive for every registered gallon of biodiesel they produce in 2013. The bill also means that any registered biodiesel that was produced in 2012 also qualifies for the credit. Or in other words, some producers just got one heck of a late Christmas present from the US Federal Government!
So, is this a good thing? If you want my opinion, the answer is a resounding “No!” Why you ask? Well, here’s my take on it…
Originally the $1/gal incentive was put in place to give biodiesel producers some incentive to produce commercial biodiesel in the United States. The theory was that the credit would help make biodiesel a more affordable alternative to using diesel fuel. Unfortunately, it didn’t (and still doesn’t) work out that way. Here’s why.
When the tax incentive is in place, the price of new and used cooking oils is simply higher than it is when the incentive is not in place. Usually by about a $1/gal higher.
How does this happen? Simple economics of supply & demand. The suppliers (new & used oil producers) simply set the price that demand (biodiesel producers) will accept. When the incentive is in place, the price goes up. When the incentive isn’t in place, the price goes down (because biodiesel producers can’t “afford” to pay the extra premium and thereby drive the price down.
So, if the price of the feedstock (new & used oil) goes up, then the value of the incentive to the biodiesel producer just went out the window! It benefited them nothing! The money simply went to the oil suppliers (who, last time I looked, weren’t hurting for money).
How do I know this? Well, for the last few years I’ve been tracking what the price of waste vegetable oil runs. I noticed that whenever the tax credit expires, the price for feedstock drops down by about (big surprise) $1/gal within 6 weeks of the expiration date. And, when the tax incentive gets reinstated, the price of feedstock usually comes back up by $1/gal within 6 weeks of the reinstatement.
So, with the tax credit reinstated, guess what? Oil prices have already started to climb! [Oh! Say it isn't so!] Funny how the economics of supply & demand seem to still work in our modern world.
Here’s where my data comes from.
I use the USDA National Weekly Ag Energy Round-Up pricing sheet. It’s updated every Friday by the USDA and includes all sorts of commodities pricing. The one’s I’m particularly interested in are Crude Soybean Oil and Yellow Grease (waste vegetable oil). The prices are in pounds and I use 7.56 lbs of oil in a gallon to come up with dollars per gallon.
Before the credit passed, here’s what the figures were:
Yellow Grease – $2.57 to $2.76/gallon
Soybean Oil – $3.39 to $3.58/gallon
The report posted on Friday, Jan. 4th, 2013, the pricing was:
Yellow Grease – $2.57/gal to $2.84/gal
Soybean Oil – $3.49/gal to $3.58/gal
That’s roughly an $0.08/gal increase for Yellow Grease and a $0.09/gal increase for Soybean Oil. Yep! It’s already taking effect THAT FAST!
So, is the tax credit a good thing? Sure! If you’re in the organic oil business, it’s awesome! You’ll be making about a $1/gal more for your oil in the coming weeks! Life rocks! But if you’re a commercial biodiesel producer buying your oil, it kind of sucks. You’ll get that nice chunk of change from the feds for 2012 that the oil suppliers didn’t get their grubby hands on, but in 2013, I predict that you really won’t get to see any of it because the price of your oil will simply go up by $1/gal and eat any benefit you were getting right out from under you.
While you’re there, be sure & check out the Alternative Fuel Refueling Infrastructure Tax Credit as well. It also was given a new lease on life through 2013 and offers up to a 30% credit for commercial biodiesel refueling equipment or up to a $1,000 credit for personal refueling equipment. By the way, because the BioPro’s (BioPro 150, BioPro 190, BioPro 380) come with fuel transfer pumps, they qualify for this credit!
So, while the Biodiesel Tax Incentives & Credits aren’t perfect, if you’re set up properly, they can be a boon to your operation!
To get a good understanding of where the oil comes from, the students grew soybeans and discussed how the crops produce soybean seeds that can be crushed to make vegetable oil.
Next, it was time to make some biodiesel!
Vegetable oil, lye, and methanol were procured and the methanol & lye mixture was made up into methoxide. Next, student used small sealable 16 oz water bottles to heat the vegetable oil up in a microwave. A big focus of the project was on safety, so students were required to use gloves and protective eye wear throughout the project.
Methoxide was then added to each students bottle and the mixing commenced!
Once everything was mixed, all the small bottles were dumped into a larger sealable container.
Next came settling! The glycerin slowly settled out of the biodiesel produced and was drained off and removed.
After the glycerin was removed it was time for washing the fuel! Some of the biodiesel underwent a water wash while the rest went through a simple dry wash using oak saw dust to remove the remaining soap!
Next, the fuel underwent testing for any remaining soap using the Shake-Em Up Test.
Once the fuel was complete, it was added to a diesel powered lawn tractor and the clean, renewable biodiesel helped to mow the lawn!
Teacher Kurt Wertman believes the program was a huge success as it introduced students to something they’d never seen before! Biodiesel! He said the kids really enjoyed the project and said that before they started, some of the students didn’t even know the difference between a gas or diesel engine but now they were making a green, alternative fuel , understood how diesel engines worked, and had some real hands on experience working with this great alternative fuel!
In addition to the project, the students learned the basics of agriculture with seed growing and had a chance to see the end result of all the hard work farmers put in (namely a renewable fuel that could fuel the schools tractor!) They also had a chance to work with math in figuring out the formula’s for making the biodiesel, learned some basic chemistry, and also had a lot of fun!
We want to give a heartfelt congratulations to Warrior Run Middle School and to teacher Kurt Wertman for the great work they’re doing in teaching students about this exciting renewable fuel!
If you’re planning on running Biodiesel in your diesel engine when it’s cold outside, here’s a few tips & tricks to help you keep everything running smoothly
1) Know The Gel Temperature Of Your Biodiesel
Biodiesel tends to gel up at much higher temperatures than diesel fuel. Because of this, it’s very important that you know the temperature that your own Biodiesel gels at so that you can plan accordingly.
Believe it or not, the kind of oil that you use make your Biodiesel from will have a big effect on what temperature the Biodiesel gels at.
For example, Biodiesel made from peanut oil tends to gel at relatively high temperatures (around upper 40′s to low 50′s) whereas Biodiesel made from canola oil or safflower oil can usually stay liquid clear down near freezing.
To identify where your fuel gels at, grab a glass jar, fill it with your Biodiesel, and set it in a refrigerator for a good 8 hours. Monitor the temperature during this time (a good pocket thermometer works great!) and watch your Biodiesel for signs of gelling up.
If your fuel doesn’t gel in the refrigerator, put it in the freezer and monitor it’s temperature every few hours while watching for signs of gelling. At some point, you’ll see it start to gel up. It usually starts at the bottom as a haze and then the haze thickens into a gel.
We usually keep a jar of the Biodiesel we make in a jar on top of a garbage can located outside in the cold. This way if the jar is gelled up in the morning, we know we’re pushing our luck running on the Biodiesel.
2) If Possible, Park Your Diesel Vehicle In The Garage
While this isn’t a complete cure-all, it keeps the cold wind from blowing on the fuel tank while parked. Also, the temperature inside an enclosed garage will usually stay a bit warmer than outside. This slight increase in temperature can help to keep the fuel in the tank from gelling as quickly.
Also, if you can’t park your diesel in a garage, another trick is to place a lightbulb under your vehicle’s fuel tank and point the light at it (think halogen trouble lamp). You can also place an incandescent light bulb near your fuel filters as well for the same effect. The heat given off by the light bulb will help to keep your fuel tank or fuel filter warm which can help prevent the Biodiesel from gelling.
(TIP: If you do use a halogen lamp, be sure not to place it too close to the fuel tank; remember, they can get extremely hot, we just want to WARM the tank, not burn a hole through it.)
3) Keep The Fuel Tank As Full As Possible
A full tank of Biodiesel takes much longer to gel than half a tank and a half tank will stay liquid longer than a quarter of a tank will. It’s simple thermodynamics. A large body of liquid will retain it’s temperature longer than a smaller body of liquid will. So, keeping the tank as full as possible can help increase the time it will take for the Biodiesel to gel up on you.
4) Blend With Diesel Fuel Or Kerosene
Blending diesel fuel in with your Biodiesel will help lower the temperature at which it gels. You’ll need to experiment with your particular Biodiesel to identify which blend ratio will work the best, but if in doubt, add more diesel fuel!
A good rule of thumb is that if the temperature will be dipping below freezing, a 50/50 blend is a good place to start. We usually can get away with a 70% Biodiesel/30% diesel fuel blend using canola based Biodiesel throughout the majority of our Utah winters. Temps here usually are in high 20′s to low 40′s during most of the cold months and occasionally can dip down into the teens.
Our rig, a 2003 Ford 7.3 diesel, is parked in a heated garage at nights, but sits out in the cold all day long. If we know it’ll be in the teens, we usually increase the diesel fuel percentage to about a 50/50 mix. If it’ll be down below zero, we don’t even bother using Biodiesel (it’s not fun getting stuck on a freeway with a gelled up fuel tank when it’s that cold outside).
Also, if you plan on blending, add the diesel fuel to the tank FIRST; then add the Biodiesel. We learned this trick years ago and have found that it helps the diesel fuel to blend with the Biodiesel much better. Another trick is to immediately drive the vehicle for a while after be blend the fuel in the tank. The motion of the vehicle helps to slosh things around in the tank & gets everything well mixed.
5) Use Biodiesel Anti-Gel Additives
While there aren’t a lot of great anti-gel additives for Biodiesel available, there are a few that we’ve heard work alright. The problem is in the actual chemical make up of Biodiesel itself. Turns out it’s REALLY hard to keep the crystals from forming that cause fuel gelling in Biodiesel. It’s possible to slow them down, but once they get started, it’s next to impossible to stop them from continuing to form.
While both of these additives can help, diesel fuel, or good old kerosene, tend to work much better.
6) Get To Know Your Onboard Fuel Filter
Fuel filters with smaller micron ratings tend to gel up quicker (ie. 5 micron or smaller) than larger micron fuel filters. Also, smaller fuel filters can gel up faster too.
The location of the fuel filter can also play a role. If it’s hanging down low on the vehicle where the wind & elements can get to it chances are it’ll gel up faster than a fuel filter mounted right up near the engine. If possible, insulate your fuel filter! Even some cheap foam insulation or foil bubble-wrap can help.
Also, always pre-filter your Biodiesel through a fuel filter with a micron rating equal to or less than your on board fuel filter. If possible, pre-filter the fuel at ambient air temps too! This will help filter out the junk plus, it can help filter out some of the thicker particles that tend to plug up on board fuel filters. It’s always better to plug a pre-filter in your garage than it is to plug your on-board fuel filter on the side of the freeway.
7) Install A Fuel Heat Exchanger
One of the cool ways to keep your Biodiesel from gelling up while driving on a cold day is to install a heat exchanger. These work by exchanging the heat from engine coolant through metal tubes to heat up tubes with Biodiesel flowing through them.
While this won’t work immediately on start up, once the engine is up to temperature, your Biodiesel will stay nice & toasty warm as it flows through the exchanger. It’s best to install the heat exchanger before the fuel filter to keep the filter nice & warm and free of gelling fuel. Click here for an example installation diagram
We’ve heard great reviews from people using our SpringPro 250 Heat Exchanger and find it to be a great tool to keeping Biodiesel from gelling.
8) Install A Fuel Filter Heater
If you’d like to have almost instant heat when you start your diesel, then you can install a fuel filter heater!
We offer both a coolant heated fuel filter mount as well as electric fuel filter heaters that can deliver heat almost instantly to a fuel filter. These are extremely popular among Biodieseler’s and work extremely well! The electric heaters can be wired to a switch and come in two sizes to fit most fuel filters available. In tests performed by our customers, they have been found to be extremely effective at allowing the fuel to flow through the filter without gelling up. If it’s super cold outside, you can leave the heaters on while you drive or if you just need a burst of heat initially, they’ll do the trick quite well!
So, there you have it, 7 ways to keep you running Biodiesel in the cold! Happy travels & keep warm!