Making Biodiesel at Home Part 1

Hi! My name is Graydon Blair and on behalf of Parley’s Diesel Performance and Utah Biodiesel Supply, we’re now going to show you how to make a large batch of biodiesel. We’re going to show you how we collect out oil, we’ll talk a little bit about how we filter our oil, how we transfer that oil into a biodiesel processer, how we do the process, and then how we use the fuel. We’re going to talk about various things along the way so let’s get started.

First of all we have a shop, that we go out and collect oil in 55 gallon drums. We put these drums behind restaurants that we’ve contracted with, and they put oil into these drums, and then we bring them back to this shop on the back of a truck. We have a lift-gate on the back of the truck so it makes it really easy to swap them in and out. A lot of people try to collect oil using pumps, they’ll go and they’ll actually pump the oil, and we tried that for a little while, but a lift-gate was just so much easier. They’re about 2,500 to 3,500 dollars but they are the best thing in the world. If you get one be sure you don’t let your uncles, aunts, friends, and everyone else know because soon you’ll be transporting pianos down the street. They’re just a wonderful piece of equipment to have on a truck. However, what we have when we go to collect oil is, we’ll bring a barrel back here, bring it right to about here, and then we’ll get out a filter. And this looks nice and kind of grimy. It’s a four-hundred micron baron filter. We put it over the barrel, and we filter the oil. Once our filtered oil is done we’ll haul it to a production facility that I’ll show you in a moment, and we make the biodiesel.

I want to tell you a little bit about what we use here. Remember in our smaller setting we talked about using methanol, lye, and oil. Well, up here is our methanol. This methanol is a 325 gallon tank. Most of you won’t need anything this large, but we make so much fuel we get this delivered to us. Then we go through it and we take it back to our area. You can get it pretty cheap when you get it this way. This is a 55 gallon drum. This is typically how methanol is purchased. This is one common way. The easiest way to transport it home, it can be put on the back of a pick-up. And then when you get it home you get to transport it into the back of your biodiesel processor.

These are our glycerin barrels, and as we produced our fuel if you’ll remember right we had our byproduct of glycerin. So we just take that glycerin out of the machine and we’ll come over here and we pour this glycerin right into these barrels. The glycerin’s going to contain crude glycerin, some soap, some catalyst, and some methanol. We cap these barrels up, we use our lift-gate, we throw it on the back of the truck, and we haul it over to a waste water treatment plant where they take it off our hands. They add it to their methane digester which produces methane gas they use to run their generators. We get rid of it that way. They don’t charge us for it, we don’t get paid to get it taken off our hands, but it’s a nice way to get rid of it. Once we get the glycerin out of here we then can take the fuel out of here and make biodiesel with it. I’ll show you in a moment how we make the fuel.

After we have our oil filtered, in a drum such as this, we get a sump pump. And all this is is a good old cheap sump pump from Home Depot, Lowe’s, what have you. We’ve mounted a big pipe on it, and a tube, and we use this to fill the machine full of oil. We just turn it on, it works great, we put these drum on dollies so that we can move them over to our equipment, and we’re able to make biodiesel. A moment ago we showed you some methanol. This is a methanol drum right here. This is just a pump that we’ve attached to it so that we can quickly pump methanol into our machine. We’re going to make a batch today so you can see how that works as well. Methanol, oil, and then if he pans over to my side over here, this is lots and lots of catalyst. This particular catalyst contains potassium hydroxide, and we use it to make biodiesel. Remember it takes methanol, oil, and catalyst to make fuel. Behind me is on the right is fuel. This is biodiesel that we have produced in our machines. We’ll show you how that’s done, and this fuel is ready to use in diesel pickups. Again remember it’s being made for about a dollar a gallon, and we are able to save ourselves a lot of money by using what normal people would throw away. Welcome to biodiesel, we’ll show you how to filter, we’ll make a batch, and be on our way.

Once we’ve brought our oil into our warehouse we have to filter it. In order to make biodiesel it’s a really good idea to filter it so you get all your crustys and crunchys out. This is just a 55-gallon drum strainer. It’s a 400 micron. It’s the one that we personally use. It looks kind of gross and uky but we’ve probably put about 3,500 gallons of fuel through this filter. So they’re really durable and they last long. It’s just a poly based filter. You can get them on most sites. Take a look at my site I carry them as well. We’re going to put the filter on, we’re going to take our oil and just simply poor it through it. Now, oil coming from restaurants is really gross, and nasty. As you see there are some crustys and stuff in here, and as you notice it doesn’t like to go through this really quick so we get ourselves a spatula with rounded corners, and we just scrape back and forth to let those crustys go out. So this oil is just going to filter through. Can you hear it filtering down in there? Once it’s filtered we’ll take it into our lab or into our shop and make biodiesel. So we’re going to kind of let this sit here for a while while we go do that. One thing I want to show you though, a lot of times you’re going to get really thicky crap oil and you need to get rid of the crustys. So we cut a car boy open which is what your going to typically get oil in, and we just scrape it into there. So again I’m just moving back and forth real slow. You can see some of those chunks that I’m getting out of that. It’s usually food particles and stuff from the grill, it’s French fries, just all that stuff they put in the oil over at the restaurant that you really don’t want in your fuel. Particularly in your truck, okay? I’m just going to filter that out, and our next step is showing you how we load our machine, full of oil. Then we’re going to make a batch. So we’ll see you in a second.

Our next step is we’ve filtered the oil so now it’s time to make the biodiesel. Remember from before, to make biodiesel you need a heated mixture, so I happen to have sitting next to me one heck of a heated mixture. This is a stainless steel piece of equipment with a giant mixer in it, and a big heater on the bottom. It allows me to make biodiesel very quickly, and in a fairly automated fashion. Now to make biodiesel you don’t need something like this, but we make so much that we like it. Let me tell you just how much we make. You’ve seen the fuel sitting behind me a minute ago. Last year alone we made 6,800 gallons of fuel that we used in a wide variety of diesel pickups. Anything from an 07 Duramax down to a 93 F350 to the stapid large DT466 with an international harvester engine, and we’re running biodiesel in all of those. We have a Ford, Chevy, and a Dodge that we run it in so we’ve got it all across the gammit. We know about what it’s going to do. We’re in Utah here and we are cold outside and in the winters we are starting to blend. We make primarily our biodiesel from canola oil, canola is wonderful cold flow added diesel properties, so when it gets down to about 50 degrees we start blending. Before that we can pretty much handle it. Some of our diesels are a little bit more sensitive, others aren’t. Pretty much if it’s a diesel it will handle biodiesel, and handle it really well. That’s anything from dump trucks, to big earth movers, to farm equipment, to tiny little TIs. You name it if it’s got a diesel engine in it and it’s direct injected or indirect injected chances are it will run on biodiesel. Believe it or not, Rudolph Diesel when he made the biodiesel engine his goal was to have an engine that was ubiquitous with all sorts of oils, and biodiesel just happens to be one of those that will run in it.

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2 Responses to “Making Biodiesel at Home Part 1”

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