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  #1  
Old 07-07-2005, 11:03 PM
lietuviai's Avatar
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Question Why bother with making biodiesel yourself?

I just started running WVO and began wondering why do some go through the additional trouble (and expense) of refining their WVO into biodiesel. The 617 engine will run fine on WVO. I admit my experience with WVO is very limited but I feel I have filtered it well and it flows fine through my fuel lines. Refining WVO into biodiesel appears to be a time and labor consuming process not to mention you end up with hazardous waste that you must dispose of properly. I feel I have enough work cut out filtering and storing WVO and then disposing of the biodegradable gravy and crumbs I have left over from the filtering process.
Why bother going through the extra effort?
Feel free to chime in and share your opinions here.
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:13 PM
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Good question, I just roll up to the commercial pump, insert my card, lift the handle and begin pumping either B20 or B99--it's that easy.
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  #3  
Old 07-08-2005, 01:29 AM
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Vegetable oil doesn't burn as cleanly or have a very high cetane compared to biodiesel. I personally don't want the hassle of two tanks and switching over, nor do I want to risk cold oil gumming up my daily driver's engine.
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Old 07-08-2005, 02:22 AM
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Not all types of WVO are created equal. Different ones have different iodine numbers. Basically what this means is the potential for polymerization under heat and pressure. The catch-22 with triglycerides is that the ones with the least potential for polymerization are the saturated fats. (Bonding between triglyceride molecules to form polymers begins at the double bond(s) in an unsaturated molecule) Trouble is, the saturated fats are the ones that are often semi-solid at room temperature. Some oils, like soy and canola, are enough of a happy medium that you can get away with it in a 617 by going through all the rigamarole of dual tanks, preheat, etc. But others will wreak havoc quickly. You wont get away with it with any oil in any of the new commonrail direct injection systems. I'm obviously a believer in biodiesel. Rudolph Diesel did indeed invent his engine to operate on peanut oil, but that was before they had modern injection pumps. Ok, enough out of me.
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Old 07-08-2005, 02:24 AM
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By the way, if you want to make biodiesel without the effort, czech out www.agreneregy.com.
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  #6  
Old 07-08-2005, 03:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lietuviai
I just started running WVO and began wondering why do some go through the additional trouble (and expense) of refining their WVO into biodiesel. The 617 engine will run fine on WVO. I admit my experience with WVO is very limited but I feel I have filtered it well and it flows fine through my fuel lines. Refining WVO into biodiesel appears to be a time and labor consuming process not to mention you end up with hazardous waste that you must dispose of properly. I feel I have enough work cut out filtering and storing WVO and then disposing of the biodegradable gravy and crumbs I have left over from the filtering process.
Why bother going through the extra effort?
Feel free to chime in and share your opinions here.
I'm still in the process of converting my 617 to SVO, so my opinions are not real well founded yet, but...seems like bio-diesel would be a lot more reliable on the ol' engine. I have wondered about the hassle of disposing of the waste from making it myself and I've heard it's pretty messy.

BTW, are you using an in-line oil heater? I'm installing a Neoteric currently.
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  #7  
Old 07-08-2005, 09:22 AM
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I never run WVO, but since last year when I ran into my cache of SVO (peanut oil) making Bio is a no brainer. While SVO runs OK - and our weather supports SVO 80% of the year the loss of line power is not a good compromise. Removing the glycerides and adding methane to boost the cetane is the way to go, and IMHO better than dino hands down.
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  #8  
Old 07-08-2005, 10:06 AM
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It depends on your usage. I have wrestled with the WVO-biodiesel question for over a year now. I have three diesel vehicles so conversion to WVO on all three will be time consuming and expensive. I am quite sure that the conversions will also require periodic maintenence to keep them in good working order. Adding complexity to vehicles that are already old doesn't seem like a good idea as I already am playing catchup most of the time in this regard.

The other issue is space. I don't really want to give up trunk space for a fuel tank. The MB gets used on long distance trips and the trunk is usually full. Space is at a premium in the work truck. I can barely fit all the tools I need on big jobs as it is. Sticking a 20-30gallon tank in there isn't going to help any.

Making biodiesel is a fairly simple process. Making the 50-60gallons a week I would need is a different story. I am in the process of gathering all the pumps, barrels, filters, etc. that I need to collect WVO and also looking for a suitable stainless barrel to convert into a biodiesel processor. Since I live in a cold place the biodiesel would have to be made indoors. This means the processor must be very well designed, leak-proof and vented to the exterior. Not an easy feat.

Right now biodiesel is winning in the pros and cons. I figure if I can build a decent processor it will be cheaper than the WVO conversions on all three vehicles. Once the processor and tanks are operational the actuall making of biodiesel is not all that time consuming.

The other thing is my "fleet" is in flux. I may be getting another VW, newer TDI as well as a diesel box van for work. This means more conversions, etc. If I have the biodiesel processor up and running I can fuel any diesel vehicle I choose to buy.

I can get 90+gallons of WVO a week if I need it. Collection, filtering, storage, etc. of the WVO alone will be a challenge. I am going to try and make it as automated as possible. This will still require a fairly large collection trailer and a means to pump the WVO both into and out of the collection barrels, then into the storage/filter units at home.

Getting rid of the glycerine will be an issue as well. I think I can simply dump it back into the grease dumpsters from my source. I don't plan on methanol reclamation at this point but maybe in the future.

If I can make excess biodiesel I have several friends who will buy it from me. I figure that charging enough to cover my methanol usage+charge for electrical usage should make biodiesel a much cheaper option than it normally is. As long as I am cheaper than the pump, I'll have no problem selling it. I know this is highly illegal so it will be cash only and only to very close friends. My methanol source is cash only too so this would leave no paper trail at all.

We'll see.... RT
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  #9  
Old 07-08-2005, 10:28 AM
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RT, I would not get rid of the glycerine in the grease dumpster. You may run into some hassles, such as the renderer getting pissed about you polluting his product. Once the methanol is removed, it can be landfilled, quite easily if you have an excess of 5 gallon cubes (like I do, it's how I get my oil).

And yes, some vegetable oil is more suitable to use straight, like canola or peanut. However the oil I get is all soy, and that crap doesn't even need heat to polymerize, so I keep it out of my engine.
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  #10  
Old 07-08-2005, 12:13 PM
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I guess some engines are less tolerant, but I use straight wvo using my original tank. When it gets cool, I'll blend kero or RUG. I spend about 3 hours on collecting, filtering, and fueling my car for each 35 gallons. If I had to buy chemicals, heat the oil a couple of times and process it, it would be a lot more time, a lot more dangerous and a lot less environmentally friendly, at least in my view.
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  #11  
Old 07-08-2005, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenknots
I guess some engines are less tolerant, but I use straight wvo using my original tank. When it gets cool, I'll blend kero or RUG. I spend about 3 hours on collecting, filtering, and fueling my car for each 35 gallons. If I had to buy chemicals, heat the oil a couple of times and process it, it would be a lot more time, a lot more dangerous and a lot less environmentally friendly, at least in my view.
Pretty sure we are all talking about the same engine here, it's just the risk tolerance of the driver that varies.

I'm not sure how kerosene or gasoline is more environmentally friendly; at least the methanol used in making biodiesel isn't methanol any more, and burns a heck of a lot more cleanly.
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  #12  
Old 07-08-2005, 04:59 PM
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The methanol used today is very toxic. I don't know toxic biodiesel is but I imagine it is because of the products used in making it. I do know that my WVO is not toxic. I would also have a problem disposing of the by-products from making bio-d.
Also I've seen by adding RUG to WVO causes a wax formation. I saw this when I tried rinsing the 5 gallon cubes with RUG to use them as WVO fuel cans. It left a layer of wax in the bottom and sides.
If I had to convert another car or two to run on WVO, I would. Looking back it really wasn't that difficult and the second or third time around would now be easier. I'll just have to drive and see if it holds up long enough. Its still only a novelty that will have to prove its reliability before I try any more.
I run an inline fuel heater that uses coolant to heat it.
The only reason I kept the 300D as long as I did was so I could convert it to run on WVO. If I couldn't run on WVO, I'd get rid of the 300D and go back to driving gassers.
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  #13  
Old 07-08-2005, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
As long as I am cheaper than the pump, I'll have no problem selling it.
You don't think the neighbors will say anything about the gas pump in the front yard next to the road?
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  #14  
Old 07-08-2005, 05:29 PM
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[QUOTE=lietuviai]The methanol used today is very toxic. I don't know toxic biodiesel is but I imagine it is because of the products used in making it. I do know that my WVO is not toxic....QUOTE]

Biodiesel itself is completely nontoxic. I should say properly processed biodiesel. If you leave methanol in it, then of course it is toxic.

As a WVO user for several years, I can say I am perfectly happy to go that route rather than making the biodiesel. I am a chemist and for a couple years managed an oilseeds chemistry research lab. I made methyl esters several days a week for fatty acid profiles on the GC and had no desire to do the same thing when I went home.
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Old 07-08-2005, 05:39 PM
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learning curve

Hi,

WVO has somewhat of a learning curve. I think you need to play around with it before saying it is easier than BD. I have converted two SVO cars and had some real hair pulling experiences with animal fats clogging my filters when filling them with filtered WVO. This is a problem BD people don't have. Before I settled on a consistent oil source, I was shopping around and got all kinds of junk oil and had to deal with clogged filters - home filters and car filters. Whenever I would get cocky and think I had it down, a home filter would leak and contaminate my fuel and clog the oil circuit in the car. It took some time to be able to identify good WVO, collect it properly and then use the optical particulate meter mounted in my head to tell if my filters had failed.

I've never used biodiesel but I can see when it would have been nice. When making it, it gets thinner and the junk settles out faster. A thinner fuel filters way faster too. The animal fats also separate - this is key, your enemy with WVO is animal fat, it will clog your pre-filter and car filter. I still use one home water filter every 50 gallons of oil so their is cost.

If I didn't have my diesel circuit to fall back on, I'd be on the side of the road many times. Nowadays this is never a problem but man, I cannot count the times in the recent past the car would get that high speed stumble only cured by switching back.

Biodiesel is also good for people with short commutes. I have a 5 mile commute one way to work. I warm my car on dino then switch over and then purge out when I pull up to my office. The problem is I burn about 50% dino and 50% WVO. If I had biodiesel, I could burn it all the way in. I've tried starting and stopping on WVO, you can do that in a warm area but my car protests loudly.

So, I can see some advantages to BD. I like what people say, "convert the car or convert the fuel". It really depends on who you are and what your needs are. You are clearly pretty handy so WVO is a no brainer.

BTW-forgot to post a reply to your other request about tanks, I like to use a 6.5 gallon boat tank from Walmart. Out in CA we don't really have to heat our tanks to make sure they flow. I just use heat exchangers and heated filters.

Cheers,
Yoko
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