Progress Report Jan 19

Lots of progress this week.  Got three 1700 gallon storage tanks, new processor manifold installed, several feedstock sources secured, and methanol and catalyst sources firmed up. 

Established the online webstore this week as well and have all stocked (and some not) equipment and product listed, priced, and inventoried.   I’ll set the link on the main page once we’re ready to go live with the store. 


New Reactor Acquired

We acquired our new 900 gallon stainless steel jacketed processor today.  We will begin installing it this week, and once connected to the waste oil boiler to heat the jacket, we will be able to process up to four 900 gallon batches per day.

Methanol Recovery

My brain is literally overloaded with information about methanol recovery.  I’ve been researching stills, vacuum pumps, chillers, and testing methods until I’m just plain numb.  It’s a critical step in the overall process of making biodiesel, since we can recover between 30 – 50% of the methanol used.  At over $2.00 a gallon, that’s a significant savings.  Plus, since methanol is toxic, the EPA gets a little concerned if you just start pumping methanol vapors into the atmosphere.  Our biodiesel reactors are vaporless, so that’s not a concern, but we do want to get back as much methanol from the biodiesel and glycerol as possible. 

My initial attempt was to use a counterflow chiller made in my garage.  It worked, really well actually, but the energy required to heat the mixture until the methanol evaporated is too excessive.  That’s where the vacuum comes in, by lowering the boiling point.  I think Morgan and I have a pretty good idea for a working model to use at the scale-up plant using a combination of hot water heaters and vacuum pumps, but for large scale production, we’re still investigating options.  I’ll post pictures of the contraption(s) when I can. 


Production Continues

We’ve had great success with the pilot plant facility in generating some great looking biodiesel. The PH and Specific Gravity are right on, as appears to be the flash point. Can’t really check much else with the simple lab equipment we have right now, but so far, it looks like we’ve got a good handle on producing spec fuel that meets ASTM D-6751.

TBI B100 showing specific gravity of .88
TBI B100 showing specific gravity of .88

See Through Biodiesel

Made another 100 gallons today. Took my retain samples to test against, but just putting it in a beaker to start testing I had to stop and take a picture of it. This is about as good as it gets from WVO. Color is fine, clear as a bell, smells clean. A sample burned in the generator emanated that nice “french fry” smell that everyone always comments on about biodiesel. Actually, I think it smells a little more like egg rolls or tempura, since most of the oil we’re using comes from Asian restaurants. About 50% of the oil we get is rice bran oil. I didn’t even know you could get oil from rice bran, and it’s never listed in any documenation about oil composition, but it makes pretty good biodiesel. See for yourself.

Sample of B100 pulled from 12/10/2005 batch

Magnasol Wash

Tried making a small batch (35 gallons) by “washing” it with Magnesol instead of a water wash. It worked, but boy was I unprepared for the process of filtering the Magnesol out of the wash. The pump, filters (30 micron, 10 micron, 1 micron) were just pissed about having to filter this stuff, and kept clogging. For a small batch, I figured a whole house water filter with a 1/2 hp pump would get it. I was wrong. I finally got it all filtered, but it took several days, several filters, and several dozen temper tantrums.

Next try will be to load a high capacity sock filter with the magnesol in the sock. Coupled with a big pump, I’m hoping this will have better success. What’s Magnesol? See

Sample of B100 after being washed with Magnasol