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Thread: Ethanol v Meths

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Ethanol v Meths

    Hi,
    I'm new to this biodiesel lark, so please be gentle with me,
    I made some biodiesel from old cooking oil and it didn't work out although the test batch did. The recipe from the book 'From The Fryer to The fuel Tank' says don't use anything other than pure etanol or methanol, my chemical supplier told me that Methelated Spririt is the same as ethanol, my test batch worked fine with it but my big batch (60ltr) turned to solid fat. I know that too much lye results in a solid mass, but could my problem be due to using Methelated Spirit?
    Regards, Joby

  2. #2
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    Quote Originally Posted by joby View Post
    says don't use anything other than pure etanol or methanol,
    this says it all. methylated sprits IS NOT pure ethanol. i thought the chemical supplier would know bettter.

    Methanol should be cheaper anyway so try again.
    anyhow welcome to the forum glad to have another bio man here and goodluck with your bio.
    Cheers
    Nick.
    Harold 2002 Toyota Landcruiser 105 series. 4.2lt turbo glide turbo, Too lazy to make bio nowdays times money. 3'' lift.

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  3. #3
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    There is 5 - 15% water, in most methylated spirits.
    Water promotes soap production.
    It's probable that you have a bucket load of solid soap.
    Last edited by TroyH; 6th July 2008 at 06:55 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    Hello Joby, welcome to the forum

    You say your test batch worked out? That is interesting.
    Typically methylated spirits is 95% Ethanol (the bottle says 95% ethanol and the hydrometer says 95% ethanol) and the other 5% is probably water and that will NOT work. I know a fellow who was able to get Methylated spirits at a purity of 99+% and his did worked out too.

    Be aware that it requires more ethanol than methanol for the reaction , but off the top of my head I am not sure how much, maybe 35% ethanol (350ml Ethanol per litre of oil reacted).

    If you really truely had seperation on your test batch and have a layer of glycerine on the bottom of the test to prove it let us know and we can chase this further.

    Does you container of Methylated spirits say what the purity % is supposed to be?
    Last edited by tillyfromparadise; 22nd May 2008 at 12:05 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    Hi Joby,

    Like the others said, welcome to the forum.

    Indeed as Tilly has said, it is vital that you get as pure an ethanol supply as possible.There are two Methylated Spirits that I know of on the market (I have their MSDS docs verifying the ethanol percentage, both of which is 99.7%), that will have the purity you are after. One is Diggers and the other is Durobond.

    Yes, Methylated Spirits is more expensive but I am not sure which result you are after, whether you are hoping to remove the glycerine or by using ethanol to keep everything in solution as in OCH's version otherwise known as The Master Formula which you can view at: The Masters Forumula - Topic Powered by eve community

    With the above formula as you'll see from the thread, your adding ethanol but not removing it as you would do with methanol, so you'll end up with 1.25 liters of fuel instead of whatever the fuel amount is after the removal of methanol and glycerine. ( Tilly do you know what the average reduction in fuel is with the methanol method? I don't know it off-hand)

    There are a few on this site and others that are not fans of this formula (the above thread will clearly show that!), however I have used it in a number of generators, forklifts, bobcats, isuzu's and finally my Landrover Discovery TD5 without any problems.

    Oh, the one thing I did change with the formula's process was that I filtered down to 1 micron not 5 as specified as it's always better to be safe than sorry.

    Anyway, welcome again and enjoy the benefits of making your own BD!

    Cheers,

    Pete'

  6. #6
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    As a newbie I would recommend anyone stick with Methanol. Its cheaper, easier to mix with the catalyst and Ethanol is almost impossible to get without attracting attention.

  7. #7
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    I don't know what other people have experienced, but KOH mixes very easily with ethanol and you can buy both brands that I mentioned in any Bunnings outlet in NSW.

    Maybe it's different in QLD.

  8. #8
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    I don't know what other people have experienced, but KOH mixes very easily with ethanol and you can buy both brands that I mentioned in any Bunnings outlet in NSW.

    Maybe it's different in QLD.
    Both brands of what?

  9. #9
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    i read it that frontier means both brands of ethanol that he mentioned being able to get from bunnings. ie, diggers and durabond. these are available to anyone that walks into a bunnings store around this neck of the woods atleast. a weapon of mass destruction or not..

    this would be an expensive way to go about it buying ethanol in small quantities out of bunnings but it could be used to prove if it works atleast and thats not to say that you couldnt get the same 99.7 percent ethanol in bulk quantities off these companies for making up bigger fuel batches by getting on the phone and asking around.

    it seems to me that there is an entirely different reaction going on if there is the 250ml of ethanol coming back to you as fuel. like you are not producing the waste glycerides you would be when using methanol. in that, it may also be possible that a small quantity of water doesnt constitute the exact same problems you may have when using methanol with the same amount of water.

    im yet to read up on the difference in reactions but your not really using methoxide anymore nor are you needing to be disposing of the same amount of glycerides.

    if this fuel works fine and over the longer term then really the economics of using methanol vs ethanol isnt as cut and dried as methanol being a bit cheaper when buying in bulk. sounds like you get near to an extra 250mls per litre of fuel but someone would need to also compare and factor in whether the two fuels carry the car different distances or what.

    there is possibly also something in this fuel giving an advantage over gel temps and that should be as easy as putting the two types up against each other out in a 2 degree C night. something that your also not really having to worry about if your in QLD but could mean a lot for someone down this way.

    ill give this stuff a trial go and report back on it soon. then ill take some cans of both fuels on a long drive for a distance travelled comparison. then the costs/time estimates can be worked out to see if it is worthwhile. it may even be possible to blend both fuels together yet too.

  10. #10
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    Re: Ethanol v Meths

    Many thanks for all your info, I have been away for a while so have only just caught up with this excellent forum.

    What I may not have mentioned in my post was that the test batch definitely worked, (I still have it as a souvenir, clear as a bell with no floaties or sediment) but I used a different batch of vegi oil in the batch that went wrong. I used the same titration method with the big batch and got a result which specified more lye than was indicated as maximum expected by the book (From the Frying Pan to the Fuel Tank) and double checked it with two subsequent titrations but got the same result, the book states that if the Vegi Oil is older or more used, the ph may be lower than the maximum expected, so I thought that maybe the batch of used oil I had was ancient and the amount of lye indicated was correct.

    The methanol used in both batches came from the same can which states it is 95% ethanol.

    Many thanks for all your replies and welcomes.

    Kind regards

    Joby

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