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DIY Biodiesel You Can Make at Home


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#1 shroom57

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 07:21 PM

This is an article I'm working on for one of my websites and thought you guys might get some use out of it. For those of you that are familiar with various extractions :teeth: this should prove quite simple.

Biodiesel automobile fuel is soaring in popularity as conventional diesel fuel prices continue to rise and concerns for the environment are increasing among individuals and businesses alike.

Home made Biodiesel is not only possible, but it’s being produced by people just like you and me everyday to meet their personal needs of not only transportation, but also home heating and cooling.


Biodiesel is technically a fuel that can be burned directly in any conventional diesel engine without modification, that is made from BIOlogical or organic materials. Unlike petroleum diesel, Biodiesel is a renewable resource produced from vegetable oils and animal fats. DIY Biodiesel also has the added benefit of helping the environment by reducing the pollution caused by burning petroleum diesel.


A simple way to explain making your own Biodiesel is that you are chemically substituting a component in vegetable oil with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst that is not used up but is necessary to make the process possible. Basically you add methanol and sodium hydroxide to warm cooking oil, shake it up, and when it settles you’re left with Biodiesel, soap, and glycerin (a type of sugar)!


If you’ve ever made oil and vinegar salad dressing the principle is the same. In fact, one of the ingredients (cooking oil) IS the same!


A WORD OF CAUTION BEFORE WE BEGIN, Methyl Alcohol (Methanol) and Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) can be very dangerous if not handled properly. Prolonged exposure to the fumes of Methanol can cause BRAIN DAMAGE and allowing Lye to come in contact with your skin can cause SEVERE BURNS!


That being said, painters use methanol to thin paints and people clean their clogged drains with Draino on an every day basis. Wear gloves and protective clothing and work in a well ventilated area and you should have no problems. Use your brain and treat this with respect and you should have no problems.


Let’s Get Started:

You’ll need a 2 liter plastic bottle with a lid (a soda bottle will work), a plastic funnel to fit the bottle, a measuring cup with metric measurement markings, a one pint glass mason jar with a tight fitting lid, a pot large enough to hold a liter of cooking oil, a cooking thermometer,and either a set of scales or kitchen measuring spoons.


Add to this some plastic gloves, a face shield or at least eye protection, and a good lab apron if you can find one. That’s it, you’re ready to go.


Now for the ingredients: You’ll need a one liter bottle of cooking oil. Get something cheap since you’re not going to be actually frying anything in it. The methanol is available at almost any building supply store in the paint section or at an auto parts store as a gas drying additive. Heet is a popular brand. Just make sure the contents say methanol or methyl alcohol. Finally, the sodium hydroxide is simply household Lye used for unclogging drains. Red Devil is a well known brand, as is Draino crystals. Just make sure the contents are only Sodium Hydroxide as some drain cleaners contain acids and other chemicals that you don’t want.


Here’s the Recipe:
Heat the one liter of cooking oil in a large pot either on the stove or a hot plate until it reaches 130-140 degrees F or 60 degrees C. Use the cooking thermometer to monitor the temperature.


While the oil is heating, in a well-ventilated area, measure 250 ml of the methanol and pour it into the pint jar. Quickly measure 4 grams of Lye (NaOH) and slowly add it to the methanol and seal the jar with a tight fitting lid, preferably plastic.


Slowly swirl the jar until the NaOH is totally dissolved in the alcohol. This can take several minutes and the solution will begin to heat up. Don’t panic, it’s supposed to get rather warm.


When the oil reaches temperature, carefully pour it into the two liter bottle using the funnel. Take your time, hot cooking oil is not something you want to spill, especially not on you! Once all the oil is in the bottle, add the methanol/NaOH mixture to the bottle using the same funnel.


DO NOT BREATHE THE FUMES OR ALLOW THIS MIXTURE TO COME IN CONTACT WITH YOUR SKIN! If there’s anything dangerous about this entire process, this is it. Just be careful!


Put the top on the 2 liter bottle and screw it on TIGHT. You’re going to be shaking this rather vigorously and you don’t want it leaking on you. Shake the bottle for 30 seconds being sure to give it at least 30 good shakes.


Put the bottle aside and let it settle. After only a few minutes it will change color to a dark chocolate brown. After about an hour the darker layer of glycerin will begin to settle to the bottom with a lighter amber colored layer (the biodiesel) on top.


The entire process will take from 24-48 hours so just forget the bottle and clean up your tools and utensils. Wash everything thoroughly (preferably outside) and store it away. Never use any of this stuff around food, ever again!


Washing your fuel:
Once the mixture has had a chance to settle, the next step is to pour off the top layer of Biodiesel. Carefully pour the clear layer into another container, being careful not to get any of the dark stuff with it. The darker layer (glycerin) could technically now be used to make soap, but since that’s another process, you can now just discard it.


Wash the two liter bottle thoroughly with hot soapy water and rinse it well. Now, using the funnel, pour the Biodiesel back into the bottle and gently add about half as much lukewarm water as you have Biodiesel to the bottle. If all went well, you should have about a liter of Biodiesel so add 500 ml. of water (about two cups).


Wash #1):
Gently rotate the bottle end for end for about 30 seconds. This is not a vigorous shaking like before, but a gentle agitation. Set the bottle down and if you were gentle as instructed, you should see the water and biodiesel layers begin to separate almost immediately. The water layer will rise to the top and should be a milky color. After about 10 minutes, remove the lid and using your thumb as a valve pour off the milky water layer.


Repeat this process for washes #2,#3, and #4, but gently agitate the bottle for about a full minute on these. You show notice the water layer getting more clear after each wash. You can drain it into a clear container and compare each one if you wish. (You should shake each succeeding wash just a bit harder than the one before).


Final Wash:
Repeat the above steps, only shake vigorously this time. You may have noticed that the water and oil take a bit longer to separate each time and that tiny bubbles of water form in the oil. This is what you want and is perfectly normal.


Dry it and use it!
Allow the finished product to settle in a dry area for a couple of days, pouring off any water that rises to the top. You should be able to read a newspaper through it at this time.


If everything worked out right, you can actually just pour this in your tank and burn it. You might want to pour it in and then top of your tank, but it should work just fine. You may even notice a cleaner, better smelling exhaust!


Congratulations! You just made your first batch of Biodiesel! Obviously, you’re going to have a hard time putting a dent in your fuel bill making a liter at a time, but if you’re like me you’ll want to expand this into a larger operation and start making a big difference in your fuel bill by making larger amounts.

#2 Hippie3

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 05:40 PM

interesting,
need a few illustrations/ pictures of the process and equipment
i'd like to give it a try,
oil prices will sky-rocket again,
bet on that.

#3 lysergic

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 07:37 PM

Another great legitimate use for all that lye you've got laying around
:reb:

#4 growurown

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:54 PM

seems like there should be more to it doesnt it

#5 roc

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:36 PM

Next time you travel to central NC please stop in for a tour...

http://www.biofuels.coop/

Public is Welcome every Sunday afternoon and if you live near you can join the coop.

#6 0xyg3n

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 04:28 PM

I was reading an article in the newspaper today describing how much vegetable oil is being stolen from behind restaurants. It was said that about 40% of the oil is stolen from their drums each week. This has been going on for years, but not a lot of people are aware of it.

#7 Phx

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:42 AM

I was reading an article in the newspaper today describing how much vegetable oil is being stolen from behind restaurants. It was said that about 40% of the oil is stolen from their drums each week. This has been going on for years, but not a lot of people are aware of it.



Well usually these restaraunt owners have to pay for someone to come and collect the spent oil. So all you really have to do is find some small restaurants and ask them if they would like you to take away the waste for free...most of the time it's yours for free....no need to steel imo.

#8 August West

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:44 AM

Well usually these restaraunt owners have to pay for someone to come and collect the spent oil. So all you really have to do is find some small restaurants and ask them if they would like you to take away the waste for free...most of the time it's yours for free....no need to steel imo.


actually,

in my area, wvo is such a hot item that restaurant owners are being paid by those collecting the oil.




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