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Thread: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

  1. #1
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    Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Hi all!

    I'm very new to biodiesel, but I've also been reading as much as I can on the subject. I purchased supplies to make a test batch using the Dr. Pepper method, and I'm not sure if my 1 litre sample is coming out as it should.

    Here's what I used:

    -1L unused canola oil
    -250ml methanol (from Whitey's)
    -7 grams of 98% caustic soda

    So, I mixed the methanol and caustic soda together, until I couldn't see any more granules of soda. Then, I added the oil (heated to about 50c) to my "Dr. Pepper" bottle, and finally, added the methoxide.

    After vigorous shaking, and a few minutes of waiting, I saw a layer of glycerol forming on the bottom. After about 16 hours, the layer is about 1 inch thick. The oil above that layer is cloudy, which is what has me concerned. I've read that it takes a while for the biodiesel to settle, but exactly how long should I wait before acknowledging that I've failed?

    I've attached a photo of my sample-Have I done something wrong?

    On another subject- Since I'm incapable of making my own appleseed processor, I've been looking at various ones that are on the market. I've read bad things about the Fuelmeister, and, since I'm looking for a processor in Australia, I was checking out the (expensive) Biomaster, from Bioworks.com.au. This processor looks like it suffers from some of the same shortcomings as the fuelmeister- made of plastic, and doesn't seem to come with a method of heating the oil externally.

    So, does anyone know of anyone selling quality processors in Australia? I've messaged Oily about his, and am awaiting his reply. Is there anyone else?

    Thanks,

    Justin

  2. #2
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    I'd suggest you didn't mix for long enough as you have followed the other directions to the letter.

    Within 12 hours I ended up with around two inches of glycerol (although not as dark as depicted in the method) with a clear layer of biodiesel on top.

    According to this you may just have to wait...

    http://www.biodieselcommunity.org/makingasmallbatch/ :
    You should now have a bottle containing lighter coloured biodiesel on top of a layer of darker glycerine.The biodiesel will be very cloudy, and it will take a day or two more for it to clear.
    Typically the glycerine layer is about the same or a bit more than the amount of methanol used.

    JourneytoForever has some remedies for reactions that have not gone far enough but the info is old and it may be better to start again if your washing doesn't work out.

    Good luck

  3. #3
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Yeah, I'm not sure what's going on. I mixed it for at least 10 seconds, and even went back a couple of times over the next hour. It doesn't seem to be clearing up anymore today, but perhaps I just have to wait... If I can't make biodiesel with new oil, what hope do I have of making it with used oil? I may have to look at running SVO instead.

  4. #4
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Its most lkely that you had too much NaOH, Sodium Hydroxide. New unused oil would need about 4 or 5 grams per litre. 7 Grams would give you and excess and what you are seeing is most likely a soap in the biodiesel layer. It will stay there held in suspension by the methanol.

    Your result is what I would expect under the conditions you made it in. Otherwsie it looks fine, I have not seen unused oil in my experience made into biodiesel I have always used waste oil. Glycerine layer looks good, just wash it very, very carefully. Gentle, gente is the way to go and this means a soft rocking at first, definately no shaking as this will cause the soap to bind with the water and biodiesel to form an emulsion.

    Give it a go and also try a second batch with say 4 or 5 grams per litre.

    Matt

  5. #5
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Thanks for the responses, guys. I'll try washing it this afternoon, and be careful to do so gently. I'll also try to make another batch with less NaOh.

    Justin

  6. #6
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Ok, I've washed the bio, starting off very gently, and then shaking more vigorously during subsequent washes. Because I'm a clumsy oaf, some of the mixture ended up on the ground, but most of it is still in the bottle.

    During the washing process, I noticed a layer of white foam between the water and bio. I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I drained it out while I was removing the water. The attached photo shows what my "bio" looked like right before I removed the last washing water.

    It's now outside, with the cap off, hopefully drying and becoming clear biodiesel....

    Can anyone tell me what the white frothy stuff was, and what I should've done with it?

    Thanks,

    Justin

  7. #7
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Hello Justin, congratulations on your success

    Everything you describe is absolutely normal.
    You used 7g NaOH instead of the 5g as per the instructions, but fortunately the World Famous Dr Pepper Formula uses 250ml methanol for just such an occurance.
    Because of the increased methanol and NaOH it is likely it would have taken several days for the biodiesel to clear if left sit in the bottle.

    Your wash looks fine.
    You can either put it in an open top container in the sun with a fly screen over it until it dries or put it in a pan and heat it on the stove. Stir continuously to insure you do not get any popping from water in the bidoeisel.
    Stop heating at 100deg C and remove from stove. The biodiesel should be clear and bright with water likely puddled on the bottom of the pan.
    Pour the biodiesel out and leave the water behind.
    If the biodiesel starts to cloud as it cools this means there is still water in the biodiesel so re-heat to 100deg C and stop. If there is any water on the bottom of the pan pour the biodiesel into another container.
    This will usually leave the biodiesel clear and bright at room temp, and ready to use.

    Tilly
    Last edited by tillyfromparadise; 31st July 2006 at 01:38 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Ok, since I can be rather impatient, I heated my bio on the stove, and the attached photo is the final result.

    How'd I do? Dumb question, but is there any way to test the bio, without actually pouring it into a vehicle?

    Justin

  9. #9
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Try the Warnqvist conversion test

    Mix exactly 3 ml of the biodiesel with exactly 27ml of methanol.
    If the biodiesel immediatly disolves into the methanol and nothing settles out and the methanol remains clear and bright, you have very high conversion biodiesel.

    Tilly

  10. #10
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    Re: Another biodiesel newbie needs help!

    Ok, I'll try that soon!

    Thanks,

    Justin

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