Well, we’ve been busier than a squirrel collecting nuts before the winter….
Since it’s been WAY TOO COLD outside, we’ve been concentrating on collecting a whole bevy of neat new toy’s to help playing with Biodiesel all that much more fun….
So, without further adeiu…
Biodiesel Testing Equipment
In October, I had the opportunity to go to the premier Biodiesel workshop of them all. It’s the one that Iowa State University puts on twice a year.
Take some of the most influential Biodiesel researchers in the United States, throw them all into the same room, throw in some incredible material for them to teach from; much of which has been the reference guide of all of the biodiesel home brewers out there for years as well as the commercial Biodiesel production shops, and you’ve got an idea what this conference is all about.
It’s not cheap (runs $1,000 a head), but it’s a week long and it’s the most intensive and comprehensive Biodiesel workshop on the face of the planet! I absolutely loved the thing!
I absolutely loved it and I got to meet some of my Biodiesel hero’s…
The guy on the far left is Dr. Jon Van Gerpen. The mans a genius when it comes to Biodiesel!
But, I digress…we’re talking about Biodiesel Testing Equipment and what’s some Workshop that Graydons so excited about got to do with that, right? Well, actually, A LOT!
While I was there we made several batches of biodiesel. We intentionally screwed up several batches of biodiesel.
Then we tested the crap out of them!
Here’s a preview of some of the neat equipment we ran across…
This thing would measure water content with extreme accuracy. What a cool toy!
A really cool Gas Chromatograph….Rick of B100 Supply sells these puppies too so I thought I’d get a picture by one.
Hot Plates & Lab Equipment
Really, really cool Gas Chromatographs…
Separatory Funnels (I really drooled over those…)
Screamin’ Accurate scales (man I wanted one of those!!!)
Here’s some of the soap we made…
And then we took the biodiesel we made and walked into the next room and that’s when the REAL drool started….
As we shuffled into the room and took a seat we saw some interesting equipment on a table sitting up at the front. Dave Clements walked up & introduced some people from a neat company that claimed to have some really cool equipment to show off.
They told us that with little to no effort they could measure Total & Free Glycerin and the Free Fatty Acid content of any oil with great ease…
I thought, “Yeah, right…the only way they can do that is with a…..oh my gosh….with an ENZYME!!!!” We’d just learned about using enzymes to make Biodiesel and how good they are but how they don’t really work economically.
Well, I was right.
Right before my eyes they sampled some biodiesel, stuck it in some test tubes, mixed it (with this REALLY COOL vibrator), and then stuck it in this machine, pulled it out & then the results printed out. THAT WAS IT!!!
We were able to measure total glycerin without a GC!!! And there was no interpretation to do! It was that easy! It just spit out the objective results!!!
I HAD to have one (or figure out how I could get one so I could sell it).
Well, one thing led to another and I was able to procure distribution rights and I’m now proud to say that I carry the thing. It’s just incredible!!!
Here’s what it looks like:
More info on it here:
Ok, on to the next piece of equipment…
So, while I was there I also met this really cool group of people that have a Biodiesel plant in New Mexico. Over the next month or so we arranged to go out & see them at their factory & while I was there I again had the chance to see some more really cool toys.
It was here that I saw Amberlite and saw & heard first hand just how cool the stuff was. Man, talk about some incredible stuff! Makes Magnesol look so…..last year!
But, that wasn’t the neatest thing. While there he pulled out this thing that can only be called a jar w/ a gauge on it.
I asked him what it was & he said, “Wanna see?” Well, do dogs like to chase cats? Heck ya I wanted to see!
So, he pulls out this little packet of powder, pulls out a sample of oil & say’s, with this [oil] and this [packet of powder], you can test the water content of oil or biodiesel….”NO WAY”, I thought….I’d just seen this expensive piece of equipment back in Iowa that did the same thing, how in the world can something that small do the same thing?
Well, guess what…IT CAN!!! and it can do it with extreme precision (clear down to .005% water content).
It’s called a Water Test Kit and it was designed by Mobil 1 a while back to measure the water content of any oil. Mobil 1 had certified it and used it on a regular basis. Well, a company called Sandy Brae Laboratories bought the rights to it and now sells the thing…..well….as you can guess, it didn’t take long for me to get a hold of them too!
Behold, the water test kit!
The thing is just super cool!
More info here…
Biodiesel Glycerin Based Soap
As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of Piedmont Biofuels. Well, a long time ago they bought some soap that me & Jack Jones made & they said they really liked it….well, I’d quit selling the soap because I ran out & they said they’d explore making it.
Well, about 4 months ago I received a nifty package that had Soap Kettle, Inc on it & contained some samples of soap in it with a letter from a soap maker that wondered if I’d be interested in selling her soap.
For those that have been in Biodiesel for a long time you quickly realize that it’s a very small world in Biodieselville and this was no exception.
Turns out this soap maker was making soap from glycerin that she’d received from Piedmont Biofuels that they’d asked her to make because they’d bought my soap so long ago and wanted to be able to show people that it could be done. Small world, eh?
So, after we got through the pleasantries and the “Holy Cow, You’re Graydon Blair?” and the “You mean you’re making the soap from Piedmont’s Glycerin?” we got down to business and started putting together a plan to get me some soap to test the market with.
So, now I’ve got soap that’s made from a soap maker that makes soap from glycerin made from Piedmont Biofuels biodiesel that came about because they bought some soap from me. Man, those Piedmont guys….they somehow fit into the picture of all things Biodiesel in one way or another….
Yep. I guess somehow I’m part of that small world. I consider it a great honor.
Now on to some cool things….
As many who’ve known me long will remember, I’m a big advocate of teaching others about Biodiesel. I give a lot of stuff away, I teach a lot of people, I put on workshops, I present a lot of presentations in schools, and I’ll talk to pretty much anyone that will listen to me about Biodiesel and why I think the whole world should be into it.
Well, I had a chance to do just that the other day.
I sit on the board of Utah Clean Cities. Occasionally Beverly Miller, who runs the Clean Cities program in Utah, will give me a call & tell me about some cool event that is requesting a Biodiesel expert.
This day was no different and I was thrilled!
Turns out something called a Utah Debate conference was being held and the topic this year was “Should Utah create an alternative energy policy?” I was asked to put together a booth for Biodiesel for it.
So, imagine a lunch room in a local middle school with the lunch tables organized in a big U. Imagine that you have to fill a whole table with Biodiesel stuff and then imagine that about 600 elementary age kids will be filling the room throughout a 3 hour period and it’s your job to convince them that Biodiesel is the way to go!
Well, it went off extremely well! Normally when I do these things I make about 20 or 30 copies of handouts and end up only giving out 10. So, for this one I figured it’d be the same. I made 20 copies of a really nice handout for these kids fully expecting I’d have some left over, printed up a bunch of other things to fill the table with & laid everything out.
I got everything laid out & ready and waited for the kids to come hoping they’d be somewhat interested in Biodiesel. Well, they DEFINITELY were interested! In fact, within one hour all of my handouts were gone and the kids were starting to take my single page handouts.
It was HUGELY successful! I had a chance to talk to lot’s & lot’s of kids and introduce them to Biodiesel for the first time. It was so fun watching their faces light up as I told them about how cool it was to make the fuel (I had LOTS of samples there to show off) and how good it is for the environment.
I think my booth was one of the more popular there as they just kept coming and coming. Question after question was answered and more kids kept leaving the booth with big smiles on their faces. I LOVED IT!!!
By the end of the 3 hours my voice was hoarse, my feet were tired, and I was absolutely thrilled to have been a part of it.
I even get to have some information published on their “debate” website so that even more kids will have a chance to be introduced to Biodiesel. It give ya a nice, warm fuzzy feeling inside when you know you’ve had a chance to influence that many of the future generations for good.
Here’s hoping at least a few of them keep pushing for Biodiesel and asking for it at their local gas stations and maybe even try to make some one day. As they say, it takes a village to raise a kid, hopefully I got to be a small part of that to a lot of kids.
So, that’s my thrilling adventure for the past few months. I celebrated my 4th year playing with Biodiesel last December and I’m still thrilled as ever to be a part of it. It’s just so cool that you can take garbage from a restaraunt, filter it a bit, add some chemicals and turn it into fuel! It’s just utterly amazing! It still excites me to talk about it and I still enjoy telling newbies how it can be made.
I know, I probably need my head examined, but if this is insanity, I like it!
Well, have fun folks & keep brewing!
That Rabid Biodiesel Nut from Utah