What Should I Do?

Biofuel sign

The Case for Small Scale Biofuels

(or, Can you produce your own liquid energy slaves?)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 10:03 AM
,

You might say that I am a bit of an unconventional thinker. I generally take a different approach to things than what most people do, given the same stimulus. I believe I am in good company in that regard here at PeakProsperity.com. I clearly understand the controversy over employing biofuels as one method to prepare for the coming storm. Let me say right up front that I do not believe biofuels will allow our existing civilization to sustain its current high net energy lifestyle by substituting biofuels for oil. My argument for the application of biofuels is at a much more personal/community level. I have been asked repeatedly about what and why I am doing this, so I am posting this as a service to the PeakProsperity.com members who have questions that may not have been answered yet.

It was in 2006 that I first learned of Peak Oil. That topic is what eventually lead me to Dr. Martenson, who put things in a broader perspective for me. However, as the Three E’s go, it is clear that Energy has been my primary play, since it is what started me down my current path. At first, I must admit that I poured myself into understanding our energy predicament out of fear. Gratefully that has long since passed and I now have a tremendously satisfying hobby that actually produces wealth rather that consumes it. Although I have not always felt this way, I now view stored net energy as wealth the same way most people look at a bank account. What a comfort it is to be partially insulated from the whims of OPEC and my perceived inevitability of Peak Oil.

In early 2007, I devised my plan. Gasoline cost was rising, and I knew I could not stand idly by. Being an action-oriented person, I traded my gasoline-based truck for a diesel, and began my learning curve. First step: biodiesel.

With a little help from the Internet, a local biofuels club, and a lot of late nights tinkering, I began producing biodiesel (BioD) in my garage. Small amounts at first as I learned the techniques that produced the best fuel with the least waste. As I learned, I improved my processes, and was able to produce 100% of my truck’s fuel requirements within a year. As someone who drives quite a bit for work and other reasons, this was a major triumph. At $4/gal average for petro diesel at the time, I was able to contribute over $8,000 a year in savings to my personal budget. I approached this as a business would, using its profits, and re-investing those savings back into improving and expanding systems, oil sourcing, and knowledge. Here is the culmination of nearly 5 years of dedication to my hobby:

We affectionately call this the Meth Lab (for methanol… what were you thinking?)

Overview of 20’ x 20’ x 10’ custom made barn

Filtration and de-watering Setup

Centrifuge 

Biodiesel conversion setup

Wash and Dry tank

Bench, Grease trap, Hot H2O, etc

Finished product storage / delivery tanks

And here is a video that helps to put it all together and explain how it works:

While this post is not meant to be a full on tutorial of biodiesel production, I have provided the framework below. What I would like to address is a bit more important, namely what it could mean to your family and community. What if we wanted to ramp up personal biofuels production and see where it takes us? Where does it start and stop making sense?

I have a small hobby farm in a very remote community (where the above pictures were taken). It is very tightly knit, and people have been living with less than those in the big cities for, well forever. When you factor in rising fuel prices in a small farming community like this one, it makes life that much more of a struggle. There is a large Amish community, and I can say from personal experience that even they become impacted as fuel costs increase. I don’t see how anyone can escape it, but I believe changes can be implemented to minimize impacts. There have been some great posts in this series on issues like electricity generation and weatherizing your home, but the focus here is liquid fuels to build on what you may have already done in other parts of your preparations. 

I have been dabbling in growing and pressing canola on my small farm. In general, you will harvest slightly more than 100 gallons of oil per acre planted. That far surpasses the typical commercial BioD feedstock of soybeans, and the pressed cake can be used as feed for livestock (in the chart in the link, canola is listed as rapeseed). Anyone with chickens, goats, pigs or cows would love to get their hands on pressed oilseed cake.

With some success under my belt, I have gone out to local farmers and garnered interest in working together to use their skills, tools, and land to increase the oilseed production in our community. It is my goal to perform the communities pressing and processing needs, while charging only a small portion of the pressed oil in exchange for the services rendered. Currently, land is very cheap here, and much of it goes unused, or is fenced in thousands of acres at a time and used for grazing cattle or other animals. There is an abundance of tillable acreage that goes either unused or underused.

With the ability to produce as much fuel as is needed for a farmer on his/her farm, it is very hard to calculate EROEI. One school of thought would say that it is very high, since you are producing oil where there was none. Another would say you need to factor in things like the energy embodied in the tractor, the farmer’s house, the food he eats, etc. How much of the tractor and food to you attribute to oil production since he already had the tractor and was sure going to eat anyhow? I don’t have a specific quarrel with either method, but I can say with no hesitation that small scale has the potential to be greater than the 3.2:1 often quoted for (soy based) commercial BioD production. It would be my contention that EROEI of 3:1 cannot support the energy intense lifestyle we currently enjoy, even if there was enough land and resources to produce it for all without impacting food production. We need a higher EROEI or there is a highly diminished argument to pursuing biofuels.

The other key that I have not mentioned yet is that it is a self-sustaining process. Between the diesel tractors used to plant and harvest, the diesel engine used to power the press, the diesel generator used as a backup to the solar and wind power in place, and the ability to burn the waste glycerol as an input to the system, once you are running you produce far more energy than you consume in the production. I’ll take a very conservative, back of the envelope stab at putting some of this into perspective:

  • 10 acres planted
  • 1,200 gallons of oil produced
  • Tractors require 20 gallons for 10 acres production
  • Diesel genset requires 5 gallons for electricity input
  • 10 gallons used to press oil
  • 5 gallons used to process hardwoods for outdoor boiler

Total produced: 1,200 gallons

Total used: 40 gallons

EROEI: 1200:40 = 30:1

Now, I have handily forgotten a few inputs:

  • Methanol
  • Lye
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Seed
  • Tractor Maintenance
  • Transportation
  • Opportunity cost of land
  • Infrastructure for containment and delivery
  • Time invested
  • System maintenance
  • Misc

So clearly we are not at 30:1, but I do not have the data to accurately calculate what the actual number is. Things like seed are a first year problem only, as a portion of the harvest is kept to sow next year. Fertilizer is not a large expenditure due to the nature of the area with the vast quantities of manure available and the fact that canola does not destroy the soil nutrients like corn or some other plants do, and the same plot can easily be rotated with a complementary summer crop to get 2 harvests out each year. Pressed cake can be fed to livestock and the resulting nutrients re-applied to the soil. Natural Gas is the primary feedstock in fertilizer and methanol, further complicating the calculation. Methanol and Lye can be drastically reduced by using straight vegetable oil (SVO) vs. conversion to BioD. Most of the infrastructure is a one time purchase, and can be easily amortized off in the first year by petroleum fuel savings. Cost of land will vary widely based on location, but in my case approaches zero.

So where does this leave us? With the ability to produce our own fuel at an undetermined EROEI. Is it worth it? That is for you to decide given your personal circumstances. I think it is clear by now what I have decided. If ever there was an appropriate place for YMMV, this is it.

I view biofuels in the same light as weapons and PMs. They are not for everyone. They can be used as a tool to attempt to extract a desired outcome. It only takes a theft or a home invasion for some folks who previously would never consider gun ownership to begin to change their mind. For the folks who do not consider biofuels as a positive now, it is my hope I have convinced you that there is an alternative to going without when we happen upon our next oil shock. Unfortunately, if you wait until the next shock to get started, you will be a bit late to the party.

SVO vs. BioD 

Above I mentioned SVO as an alternative to BioD. As my experience has increased, I have been converting systems over to SVO to minimize energy and chemical inputs into my process. Here’s how it works in a diesel vehicle:

  • Start and stop your engine on BioD or petro diesel
  • Once the engine is up to operating temp, use the waste heat from the engine to pre-heat the SVO
  • Shut off the primary fuel input to the engine and replace it with heated SVO
  • When the vehicle is going to be shut down, purge SVO out of the fuel system to prevent gelling
  • Put BioD or petro diesel back in all the fuel system and lines for next start up

The issue of using SVO relates to the fact that viscosity is so much lower than diesel, and only obtains the correct viscosity to be pumped and sprayed through injectors once it reaches 140*F – 160*F. Think about pumping Wesson Oil or butter into your tank as opposed to petro diesel. Now think about how well that same butter runs around your frying pan once heated. Luckily, I’m not the first person to attempt this, and there are kits on the market that add the necessary heating loops, valves, and automation so that once installed, you can essentially forget about them and your vehicle will take care of running the appropriate fuel at the appropriate time. After spending some time analyzing options, it prompted me to make a vehicle change and incorporate a VegiStroke conversion kit from BioFuels Technologies. I was so pleased with this system that I further replaced my wife’s vehicle so we could both run SVO/WVO directly. The end result is that I get well over 100 miles to the gallon of BioD added to the main tank since once up to temp, you stop using BioD. Depending on your climate, petro diesel can be completely eliminated or only used in the coldest of weather depending on the gel point of your BioD and ambient temps.

SVO can come from feedstock you grow, or from the WVO you collect from restaurants or purchase from a renderer. I use a heated centrifuge setup to spin the oil at 6000 G forces filtering it down well below a micron, and eliminating water at the same time. No consumable filters are needed. Once centrifuged, it can be pumped directly into the vehicle. Again, these systems have been paid for many times over in savings at the pump. I am unable to accurately calculate EROEI of SVO, but I can feel it in my wallet without a doubt. If crude oil gets to some of the prices I have recently heard batted around, while the costs of goods that rely on oil may go up, the price at the pump will have little effect on my personal finances.

While I heat with wood, I know of several other people who use WVO/SVO as the heat source in their homes and shops.

Ethanol

I don’t have much to say on the topic of ethanol. While I do have some experience, it is not, in my circumstances, a viable alternative fuel. While it can be used in BioD production in place of methanol, and therefore may play a small role in my future, I find that the hands on time to produce, the energy and feedstock inputs (lower EROEI), the fact that it is highly flammable and hygroscopic (making it difficult to store in large quantities), the risk vs. reward for operating a moonshine still, and a few other factors make it a less desirable liquid fuel in my case. I know others that do use it with some success.

Algae Diesel

Currently a work in progress, algae does present the distant possibility of producing economical feedstock for BioD. The US military is pushing this R&D and have proven its ability to power a ship and planes can fly on algae power. Currently, the costs to produce a gallon of algae based BioD are so high it is not even a contender in the biofuels arena. I am watching this one closely because it has potential, and who knows what the military has discovered that we have not been informed of yet!

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is not a fuel source, it is a storage platform akin to a battery. Its EROEI is below 1.

Methanol

There is much ado in certain circles about the potential for a methanol economy. While I have no particular axe to grind, I think this is in the same class as hydrogen. Methanol is primarily manufactured from Natural Gas, although there are several ways to get there being the most simple alcohol. Again, it takes on the form of a battery rather than a fuel source, a battery that uses fossil fuels for creation.

An Overview of BioD production at the small scale

Collection

Every biofuel needs a feedstock. This is the basic rub as to why biofuels are controversial. If you take productive land out of use to produce fuel rather than food, controversy is a given. In my case, this started as waste vegetable oil (WVO) from local restaurants, which does not seem controversial to me on the surface. I started with a Chinese joint and a bar and grill that was known for chicken wings. I then added on from there, and before long was collecting more than I needed for personal consumption. So, depending on your point of view, I was converting a waste product into a 1:1 replacement for petroleum. Add to that that I employ ground that was previously unused for anything as land to convert sunlight into oilseed, and I feel I can sidestep most of the controversy personally.

I had a good relationship with my restaurants, and I was not charged for this oil. It was a win-win, and I made sure to treat them well and frequent their dining rooms. This is not as easy today as it was then because of the $1/gallon biodiesel tax incentive H.R 4853 signed by Obama in December 2010, increasing the value of yellow grease on the rendering market overnight to near that of a gallon of diesel! It is still very possible to collect, but if you are just starting out, be prepared to pay a little for the oil you collect.

Transesterification (Warning – Science Content)

When we make BioD from an oil feedstock, we are starting with a triglyceride (3 acid chains bonded to an alcohol, in this case 3 fatty acids bonded to a glycerin). While the actual triglyceride may be different depending on the oil feedstock you use, the process is essentially the same. This is the way I like to picture it:

Hold up your hand with 3 fingers extended. This is the triglyceride molecule. Your fingers are the acid chains, and your palm is the glycerin. Our goal is to cut off the fingers and bond them with another alcohol, each of which would become one molecule of BioD. In our case, we use a catalyst called lye (Sodium Hydroxide (NAOH) or Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) ) to do the separation, and a donor molecule of methanol takes the place of the glycerin. When the process is complete, the glycerin is separated from all of the fatty acid chains, which results in BioD and glycerin as a byproduct. While this is a bit of an oversimplification because not all feedstocks are created equal (for example, a well used cooking oil will have begun to break down and create Free Fatty Acid (FFA) chains that are floating around, not connected to any glycerin molecule, or they may be connected with a single bond i.e. monounsaturated vs multiple in polyunsaturated or fully saturated) it does not materially effect the process you use to make the BioD. It only effects the amounts of catalyst required to create the complete reaction. No matter what the feedstock is, you will end up with a hydrocarbon you can use in a compression engine directly.

So, how do we manage all these different potential feedstocks? The simple answer is we adjust our catalyst amounts based on measurements called titration.

Titration

SAFETY WARNING: Before attempting to work with any chemicals, please watch this safety video.

Titration is a test performed on a feedstock to determine the amount of base (KOH or NAOH) is necessary to neutralize any FFAs in the feedstock. It is essentially a method for determining how to create a neutral PH in the feedstock. It involves using a specific amount of feedstock, a measured amount of isopropyl alcohol, a PH indicator like Phenol Red or tumeric, and a prepared solution containing a known quantity of the catalyst you will use for the process. The solution is carefully added to the sample until the color changes to alert you to a neutral PH. A calculation is then performed to determine the total amount of catalyst needed for the amount of feedstock you will be processing. That’s all the brainwork necessary; the chemicals do all the heavy lifting from there.

Mix Chemicals

Now that you know how much catalyst you need, we need to get the system prepared. First, we measure out the correct amount of methanol, in my case 8 gallons because I process 40 gallons of oil at a time, and SLOWLY stir in the catalyst. This will create an exothermic reaction as you create methoxide from the 2 chemicals, so care must be taken to add in the lye slowly.

Prepare the oil

During all of your chemical preparations, the oil was added to the reaction vessel and being heated. In my setup, all water and contaminants to below 1 micron have previously been removed. We need only to heat the oil to 140*F.

React

Once the oil is at temp and the methoxide is ready, it is slowly added into the reaction chamber and stirred for about an hour. The pump is then turned off, and the mixture is allowed to react, and then settle into its 2 phases, BioD at the top, and glycerol at the bottom. This is made clear in the middle jar below.

Separate

After the phase separation is complete, the glycerol is easily removed from the bottom of the tank and saved for pre-processing on the next batch. What remains is BioD contaminated with small amounts of methanol, lye, and soap. This is the cloudy yellow top layer in the picture above. The glycerol is the dark substance at the bottom.

Wash and Dry

The BioD is then pumped into the wash / dry tank for processing. I do 2 - 3 40 gallon batches at a time in the wash tank, so the next batch of oil is pumped into the reaction chamber at this time, another titration, and the process is repeated.

Once my wash tank is full, the BioD needs to be processed to strip out any remaining contaminants and soap. That is performed first by adding a mist of water to the BioD, and allowing it to slowly pass through to the bottom, collecting water soluble contaminants along the way.

An aquarium bubbler is then added, and the slight bubbling aids in further washing the BioD by lifting the water gently back to the top and dropping it thru again for another pass. You must be careful not to over-agitate at this point, or you will make soap.

After the BioD is completely washed of contaminants, the drying head is engaged along with the fan and heat, and water is driven out of the finished product. Once completely dried, the BioD is ready to be pumped into the tank.

If you want to know more details, you could do much worse than spending some time on Graydon Blair’s site, Utahbiodieselsupply.com. Here is a link to a group of video tutorials that will help you make sense of all of this.

Additionally, you may remember Graydon from a 2 Beers with Steve podcast where he talks about his entry into BioD and what it meant to him.

While I have no personal or financial connections to the companies introduced in this post, I do endorse them as a great place to start should you be interested in the gas station free lifestyle.

- Ready

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72 Comments

patrickhenry's picture
patrickhenry
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
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Posts: 76
Fantastic - thank you !

Ready - Absolutely fantastic article !  By far the best and most comprehensive write up I've seen on small scale bio fuels.  Thank you for the time and energy it took to create this informative piece !  It answered many questions for me as a hobby farm owner.

ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
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Biofuels

Fabulous, Ready! Thank you!

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
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Posts: 546
Biofuels

Awesome Ready!

The more we know and assess our options - the better off we will all be!

Thanks!

EGP

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 912
your welcome

Very welcome guys.

Good to see you again Doc Peters!

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Great Article, Ready!

Ready,

That's just a fantastic article and you've made me want to try, or at least watch/participate in the process a few times.  What an asset you are and will be to your community.

Having liquid fuels at a reasonable cost in times of exhorbitant costs or actual scarcity will be a dividing line between the haves and the have nots.

Energy is the master resource, it is true wealth.

Congratulations on mastering the process.

joemanc's picture
joemanc
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Posts: 834
Awesome

That was excellent reading Ready!

Farmer Brown's picture
Farmer Brown
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You da Man!

Ready,

This is awesome.  Excellently done - thank you very much.  I could actually get started based on this and the resources cited.  No excuses for me now! 

FB

Nate's picture
Nate
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Posts: 461
Really outstanding post,

Really outstanding post, Ready.

I made some BioDiesel on a small scale to see if I could use wood ash "extract" for the catalyst.  I soaked the ash in water for 30 minutes and filtered it.  I dried the filtrate and ground it to a fine power.  It had a pH of ~9.5, which is substantially less than NaOH but a bunch safer. Bottom line is that it was basic enough to perform the transesterification. 

Really, have you had problems with the base reacting with the galvenized plumbing?  I think PVC would be a better route to go.

Be CAREFUL if you attempt this!  Invest in good  safety gloves and goggles.  Even injesting a small amount of methanol can cause blindness.  NaOH and KOH are very strong bases.  If you work with them and your hands feel slippery, it means you have converted the fats in your skin to soap.  (been there, done that.) 

Nate

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 912
slippery

Nate, I always wondered why I couldn't hold on to anything while working in the lab - everything slipped out of my hands.

Seriously tho, you make an excellent point about safety that I probably should have been more obvious about - this stuff is mild compared to a lot of chemicals used in industrial processes these days, but still VERY DANGEROUS if used improperly. I personally know one gentleman who lost his airplane hanger with the plane in it due to carelessness making BioD. You cannot take methanol risk too seriously.

As far as the galvinized plumbing, I don't have any where it will come in contact with a base. The plumbing on my BioD processor is black iron or PVC. What you are seeing that is galvinized is in the pre or post filtration setups.

Patrick, you know how to reach me if you have questions. I hope you do dive in, with your climate you could put my EROEI to shame. Totally different class of plants and almost no issues with using SVO all year round. I'm a bit jealous.

Chris, thanks for the kind words and helping me see the big picture.

jturbo68's picture
jturbo68
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Posts: 193
BioDiesel

Hi All,

I have been making BioDIesel from Wast Veg. oil for about 4 years.  Usin virgin canola would be really sweet, but it works qute well with waste oil as well.

My Method is a little different, using a Hot Water Heater as a reactor and distilling off the excess methanol or  bubbling

instead of Washing/Centrifuge.

I have a process that works quite well and can discuss further should anyone want some ideas getting started.

Thx,

John

ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
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Thanks, Rog! I'll have to

Thanks, Rog! I'll have to make the drive down to Missouri and see your setup one of these days!

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Posts: 422
Lister Diesels

Roger,

Very useful and helpful article on alternative fuels. I really appreciate your efforts. We are in the process of getting our local farm production expanded here with a new potato patch project and a seed bank underway.

We also have several folks interested in making biodiesel so your article is very timely.

I sent you a private e-mail with the contact for the Lister diesel motor. He has one available which he is willing to part with so good luck on the acquisition.

Coop

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Great read, Ready Am a

Great read, Ready

Am a farmer and interested in BD production.  Press type? Heated? Any experiments with diferent seeds and their yields?

Robie

jturbo68's picture
jturbo68
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Posts: 193
Oil Types for BD/SVO

Robie,

The general feeling in the BD/SVO commuity is that canola is hard to beat in terms of its low temperature til gel point and its clean burning nature.  SoyBean oil is the other typical fuel.

When I have looked at SVO ( Straight Veg Oil) there are proponents out there that will try and burn only Cannola as they have had issues with engine coking from Soy Oil..

In terms of Biodiesel made from WVO ( Waste Veg Oil), I have never had an issue with combiing a mix of cannola and soy as my stock, although I prefer Cannola by far as it seemes to gel at a lower temerature during the winter ( Down in the low to mid 20s F).

John

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Thanks John, I've everything

Thanks John,

I've everything to grow, harvest and store seed. Its getting it to the oil state that seems to vary. Press type and whether its preheated changes yield. Sunflowers,BOSS, is what i think would grow in my area(edge of zone7 and 8). I never thought about diffent oil sources having different gel points, I do like the idea of having human consumption as an option for raw VO.

Do you press?

Robie

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 912
screw press

Robie,

I did a quick look and could not find a pic of my press, but it looks very similar to this:

And does 8 tons/day running off my tractor PTO. Cold press.

You can still grow canola in yur zone if you choose. If you like to dove hunt tho, sunflower is the way to go!

cnbbaldwin's picture
cnbbaldwin
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Posts: 58
Great article with

Great article with references for more study.  I echo everyone's plaudits for your writeup.  Your setup looks great.   Since you have obviously worked out many of the kinks through trial and error would you be willing to take the time to actually list the actual equipment (and suppliers used) with a flow diagram of your process?  I sense a lot of excitement and a "maybe I can do this" attitude from several in the CM community myself included, but would hate to repeat a lot of rookie mistakes.  After searching for more than a year and a half my wife and I have just purchased a small farm with about 14 tillable acres.  Looking into the feasibility of  biodiesel production was one of my next projects and you have given me a great head start here.  As Chris said the availability of liquid fuel is certainly one of our greatest challenges and lies much too near the horizon for my peace of mind.  Whether you can contribute more detail on your process or not thanks again for a wonderful article.

cnbbaldwin's picture
cnbbaldwin
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John, You replied "My Method

John,

You replied "My Method is a little different, using a Hot Water Heater as a reactor and distilling off the excess methanol or  bubbling

instead of Washing/Centrifuge"   I would be very interested in this variation.  Are you saying that that you have eliminated entirely the wash step with hot water heat?  That would seem to be quite a simplification.  You mention temp of only about 140F is required.  Do you happen to use solar to heat the water?

Bruce

JAG's picture
JAG
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Posts: 2490
Complete Awesomeness

Thank you Rog,

In my "scrooge-ish" opinion, this is hands-down the best contribution to this community that I have read yet. I know your time is at a premium, so I really appreciate you sharing your hard earned experience with us. Have you read anything about using duckweed as a feedstock for biofuel? I'm not sure that the duckweed biomass would be efficient in oil extraction, but you just can't beat its production rates (excluding algae, of course). 

Pacific Domes is working with Rudy Behrens to develop small-scale duckweed production facilities to generate electricity. It is really is an intriguing design, if it's realistic, especially if one could generate liquid fuel from duckweed as well.

Thanks again for the info and inspiration!

Captain Duckweed

jturbo68's picture
jturbo68
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Posts: 193
cnbbaldwin wrote: John, You

cnbbaldwin wrote:

John,

You replied "My Method is a little different, using a Hot Water Heater as a reactor and distilling off the excess methanol or  bubbling

instead of Washing/Centrifuge"   I would be very interested in this variation.  Are you saying that that you have eliminated entirely the wash step with hot water heat?  That would seem to be quite a simplification.  You mention temp of only about 140F is required.  Do you happen to use solar to heat the water?

Bruce

Bruce,

When I started making biodiesel years ago, I washed the biodiesel to remove the suspended soaps and residual methanol.  I found the washing process to be the source of most of my issues and on a number of occasions I inadvertantly created 'glop'.  This is more likely when using WVO (Waste Veg Oil), which is what I use today.  Virgin oil is more forgiving in the wash process as I understand.  Also washing is a temperature sensitive process.  You can get away with a more agressive washing process in the summer than in the winter, or you would need to heat your wash water, which can help, but takes a lot of extra energy.

I moved away from washing using a process developed by an englishman named Graham Laming.

http://www.graham-laming.com/bd/ecosystem/state_diagram_new.htm

Essentially, this process works because, if you can remove the residual methanol from the biodiesel,  the soap in suspentionion can now settle out, eliminating the need to water wash.

The process differs from water washing in that once the biodiesel is made, I distill out the excess methanol ( Which can be used for future batches).  Then transfer to a settling tank and let it sit for about 2 days.  The Soaps settle out of suspention and the fuel is ready to use.

I can post some pictures of my setup if there is an interest. 

I use an old HW heater and element as a reactor/mixing  vessel as they are cheaply available, can handle a lot of heat without melting, the HW Heater element is a really cheap heater and is insulated to keep the biodiesel warm while waiting for the glycerin to settle.

John

cnbbaldwin's picture
cnbbaldwin
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John, Thank you for the

John,

Thank you for the further explanation and link regarding a washless BD process.  I would be very interested to see your pics.  This is a great discussion we have going on BD production. 

Thanks everyone.

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 912
Basic setup

Bruce,

The basic setup is called an appleseed processor. You can see some pics here. It is a very simple and inexpensive setup and makes a good starting point.

As far as washing and drying goes, I have eliminated "glop" or an emulsion by changing my system and techniques over the years. I water wash hot BioD with hot water (heated in my outdoor furnace). I use the right heads and the right flow rates, etc. Also, I use KOH vs. NAOH as the catalyst which makes washing easier and more successful. So much of this is oil dependant however, that we are putting the cart before the horse a bit here. For example, if you have a high titrating WVO as the feedstock, you will do things differently than using virgin, or good qualilty WVO. If you can give me an indication what your feedstock might be, summer and winter ave temps, and the amount of space you have to work with, I can make some recommendations with links to additional reading. 

I can tell you it is a rewarding hobby if you enjoy science and chemistry, enjoy tinkering on tractors and autos, are willing to dedicate the time, and have the space to do it where you are not worried about a little oil spill on the floor (or 70 gallons running down the driveway). Generally speaking, you can do this with a small initial investment of $200, like an appleseed, and then grow from there if you re-invest your savings back into the hobby.

Here's an example of 2 guys building the king of the appleseed with separate drywash (uses ion polymer rather than water to wash BioD) in a day. Even this is way overkill to get started:

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JAG wrote: Captain

JAG wrote:

Captain Duckweed

High praise indeed capt'n!

If I could figure out how to convert algae or duckweed into BioD economically, I'd need a pretty big staff to count my piles of cash. There might even be a job in it for you, but you would need to be able to stomach PMs as well as FRNs. Tongue out

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I am speechless ....

What you have been able to accomplish is very impressive.  The only problem I have with people like JAG, EGP, mooselick, yourself, is that you leave me feeling very inadequate.  If I could find a way to do 1/10th of what you guys are doing, I think I would feel pretty good about myself and my family.

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I am speechless ....

Me too.  And I wish I was a good 20 years younger as well!

Don't take this as criticism, but I think doing without is not only possible........  but also a whole lot easier!

Mike

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Commercialized Yet?

Wow, great stuff, Ready! There's hope yet for ordinary folks who want to get crackin'.

It sounds like after years of having people do this, it would be awesome if we had more readily-available commercialization of the product, just as you can buy a big $5,000 or $10,000 wood-burning furnace or solar water heating system, or a Vegestroke kit.

A farmer could buy his own small home system that does the pressing, titration/testing, processing, etc. and tells you how much you have to input of what chemicals, based on the canola or vegetable oil input/quality.

Is there anything on the market like this already?

Poet

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This is pretty close,however

This is pretty close,however electricity is neccessary:

http://www.utahbiodieselsupply.com/biopro380.php

Got the link from "Ready's" original post. Its quite a good deal if you;ve the neccessary infrastructure in place.

robie

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Comercial systems (most) not ready for prime-time

Poet wrote:

Wow, great stuff, Ready! There's hope yet for ordinary folks who want to get crackin'.

It sounds like after years of having people do this, it would be awesome if we had more readily-available commercialization of the product, just as you can buy a big $5,000 or $10,000 wood-burning furnace or solar water heating system, or a Vegestroke kit.

A farmer could buy his own small home system that does the pressing, titration/testing, processing, etc. and tells you how much you have to input of what chemicals, based on the canola or vegetable oil input/quality.

Is there anything on the market like this already?

Poet

Poet,

In a word, yes there are "commercialized" systems out there. BUT, most have incorrect or incomplete information and processes. The most common systems out there have calculation sheets that are off, safety controls are suspect and the last time I looked, most used PVC pipe in process critical systems.

C.

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Ready - Fantastic clean set-up!!

Ready,

What a great write-up and a fantastically clean work space for bio-d!!!!

How do I know? I have been producing, learning, making mistakes, and experimenting with bio-d and wvo since 2005. (minus the last year or so since I have moved and left my entire processor system back home)

I started with small batch bio-d and even taught my (at the time) 12 year old daughter how to do a "Dr. Pepper" batch, explain the process and it won her 1st place in a science competition.  So the science isn't much harder than high school chemistry BUT it does not mean that it is as safe as H.S. chemistry.

I have built an "Apple Turn-Over" processor and then converted it to Graham Laming's Eco-System Processor.

I have built a methanol recovery still.

I settled and dewatered the wvo traditionally and by using Graham's system to dewater as well as recover the first round of methanol.

In the end, I moved away from bio-d and more toward wvo use. Why?

Traditional "washing" of the bio-d was very water intensive and put methanol into the waste stream.

Glycerin disposal required methanol recovery for safety (even though I made the "best" glycerin soap)

Methanol and lye safety

The Eco-System, while making recovery of methanol easier and as pointed out required less washing it was still energy input intensive.

Time required to "run a batch" became more of a chore than a pleasure.

So, in the end, I used wvo, dewatered, and filtered (never got around to building/buying a centrifuge) and blended up to 50% in a diesel Jeep Liberty and an '83 Mercedes 300SD. Didn't put a two tank system in either car. Sadly, competition for the wvo sources led to some guys either stealing from my collection barrels or, in one case, someone paid the restaurant owner for the oil. After hundreds of gallons used, I had no problems with my cars. BUT I religiously dewatered and filtered the oil. I found that the time I took for collection, filtering, and dewatering did not pay. That was sub $4/gallon diesel.

My wife was glad to see me leave the set-up back home along with the "lifestyle". However, not that diesel is $4/gallon she even asked me if I was going to "start-up" again. I told her that she would have to secure wvo soures. I still evaluate the "quality" of a restaurant by the quality of their fired foods. In fact one of the first restaurants we ate in here in NC has the best fried "pickles and chips". I said to her, "hey babe, I wonder what type of oil they..." She interrupted me and said, "Don't even think about it!"

I suppose, if I could secure wvo supply and find the time to collect, filter and dewater... I would not hesitate using wvo again!

C.

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robie robinson wrote: This

robie robinson wrote:

This is pretty close,however electricity is neccessary:

http://www.utahbiodieselsupply.com/biopro380.php

Got the link from "Ready's" original post. Its quite a good deal if you;ve the neccessary infrastructure in place.

robie

Graydon is well respected in the community of biodieselers. Nothing is quite as easy to use as it looks. Feed stock varies, humidity, temp, etc.

If anyone is interested, I would suggest Goggling "Dr. Pepper Method" and read, read, read. Oh, and get a diesel if you don't have one.

C.

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  Ready, What a great post

Ready,

What a great post on an awesome project (hobby?). I've long pondered personal energy solutions like methanol/alcohol a la David Blume or a Green steam engine to generate electricity, but you've tipped my thinking towards BioD or SVO. Is this method economically scalable, down to a smaller level of production, say something proportionate for a field of one or two acres? I notice here that sunflower (BOSS-- Black Oil Sunflower Seed) oil has a yield per acre just slightly less than rapeseed. I'm in Southern California where I would think that the warmer climate would reduce the gel and viscosity issues, but water to irrigate crops is somewhat scarce. I'm thinkin' sunflower seed oil might be the winner for me. What do you think?

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Awesome write-up, Ready

A really great combination of DIY, prep for Post-Peak-Cheap-Oil, and SHTF Entrepreneurialism.  Makes me want to become a BioD Sheik.

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Hello Earthwise, I don't

Hello Earthwise,

I don't think I would appproach growing your own seedcrop one or 2 acres at a time. The machinery to plant, harvest, press, and degum takes a broader base of oil produced to become economically viable. There are a couple other options however:

1   Collect WVO from resturants, schools, hosptials, recycling centers,

2   Pay for your oil from a renderer. This is not a great option any more since BioD was subsidized by Obama Dec 2010. WVO is now $.40 a pound, putting it slightly less than diesel. When this subsidy expires, this may become an option again.

3   Work with a farmer who already has the tools to grow some for both of you. He grows, you process, share the result.

Good luck.

R

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Sheik Sager

Baron Von Sager has a nice ring to it.

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RNcarl wrote: I suppose, if

RNcarl wrote:

I suppose, if I could secure wvo supply and find the time to collect, filter and dewater... I would not hesitate using wvo again!

Thanks for the input to the thread Carl.

While pouring WVO thru a sock filter can be a bit tiresome, you can certainly start out SVO that way pretty cheaply. Once you start saving money, a centrifuge makes light (I think) pleasurable work of filtering. Resulting oil is far superior in quality, and I can do a weeks worth of oil usage in a couple of hours with only 10 or so minutes of hands on time, and I never touch the oil. Once you get to this point, it is not laborius in the least. Then again, my system is so overboard anyone else's that I have ever seen, it can only be classified as a hobby, and something I clearly enjoy to put that much effort into it. I get how others could look at all this and just wonder why????

Collection can be very easy too. It's all in how you think it thru. I use a super sucker which will suck a 55G drum clean in about 2 minutes even in the dead of winter. Mounted to a trailer, the vacuum builds on my trip to the collection point. I jump out, open a valve, whistle a quick tune, and I'm gone. Once home, put her in reverse and spit it back out at the same rate.

Again, this is a several year process, and I started out with a DC gear pump and this stupid contraption my boys named Olive Oyl that rolled onto the bed of my truck and had 2 rubbermaid brute trash cans as the holding tank. It worked, and I collected a TON of oil that way, but it was 1/2 hour at each pickup point, and I had to come home in between to empty out. Now I can pickup 250 gallons in one trip.

I now have a pickup from a non-restaurant that gives me 50 - 60 gallons of high quality oil per week. So in a single stop, I can pick up over 200 gallons once a month. That is efficiency, don't you think?

So look at it this way:

Total pickup time: 45 minutes on a bad traffic day. Most of that is driving.

Total filter time:      3 hours, of which about 20 minutes on the high side is hands on.

So, for 3 hours 45 minutes out of my weekend (most of which is not direct hands on time) I get the equivalent of 3000 miles of driving for "free."

The numbers work out just fine if you do it right, and re-invest your early savings into collection and filtration systems.

Example of a super sucker:

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Thanks For Links On Commercial Solutions

Thank you, Robie Robinson and RNcarl, et al. for the links on the commercial solutions.

The prices don't look too prohibitive at all for an upstart young entrepreneur, though sourcing methanol and feedstock would probably require more work and effort.

Just speculation, of course (I'm a suburban dweller), but I wonder if it would make more sense to be an early adopter or wait until the commercial solutions become commonplace (and cheaper) throughout rural America as oil prices continue to skyrocket!

Poet

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Hi Poet

While I do appreciate the ease of use of the BioPro, I'm not sure I would elect to go that way were I you. If you look closely, there is more to it than electricity and methanol. You will also be adding NAOH, and believe it or not sulfuric acid. The acid is used to pre-treat the oil to convert free fatty acids into a molocule of BioD, and reduces the titration value (PH) of the oil, which in turn requires the use of less catalyst, but really is intended to allow nasty, overused WVO to be successfully converted to BioD while keeping yeilds up and soap down.

That was a mouthful. Bottom line, this device (with all of it's goods and bads) has to be created for the lowest common denominator. As such, it is somewhat wasteful, very overpriced, and not very flexible.

Now, if you are willing to use your brain to process rather than leaving it to a machine, you can build a system and the building to house it in for less than the cost of the BioPro.

In terms of now or later, the biggest issue most folks have is feedstock. If you have a way to obtain WVO or SVO pressed, then I don't see a benefit to waiting. I know a lot of biodieselers, and I only know of one who has (the original) BioPro. I just don't see a lot of potential for a company to get rich making these machines currently. We tend to be tinkerers by nature if attracted to this hobby, and most are going to roll their sleeves up and build the system they want for a fraction of the price. I guess what I am saying is that waiting for the market to drive invention may take longer than you might expect. Now if oil goes to $200, that will obviously change things a bit but there will clearly be a lag between cost going up and deliverable product...

Testing the water on feedstock collection should be a first step. If you have freinds or family in the restaurant biz, are neighbors with the school lunch lady, know the maintenance man at the hospital, or simply frequent a restaurant where they know you, it doesn't hurt to start asking questions. Once you have a steady stream of oil, your options become a whole lot wider. Even if you decide not to process it yourself because you don't yet have all the equipment, you can sell it on craigslist for $3 per gallon to someone who will. Put an add up for WVO and they will come runnin!

Cheers,

R

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   Amazing setup ready....

Amazing setup ready.... ! reminds me of some of the deluxe homebrew setups I occasionally lust over.

You can use the rape seed oil for electricity generation too ?

So in principle, you have transport, heating, electricity, human and animal food from one crop...*wow* !

Feed some chickens the oilcake and you have endless mayonnaise!! *slurp*

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Where to get all the supplies

The biggest hurdle is where do you get all these supplies when Oil becomes unavailable or just rediculuously expensive?   I believe your making a poor assumption that these will be available when oil become unavailable. If you planning on Biofuels to replace your fossil fuel inputs, you will need to provide the means to produce methanol, Lye and most import Vegetable oil. FWIW: The production of Vegetable oil with reasonable extraction yields requires industrialize production. Typically the Oil is extracted from plant matter using a powerful solvent, such as hexane or SuperCritical CO2. Hexane is separated from the oil and reused, but there are losses (evaporation, absorbtion) that must be made up from stock. its impractical to manufacture hexane onsite, and hexane is also a known carcinogen. A simple press will only extract a small fraction of the oil in the feedstock. Solvent extraction is required to be effective. Food grade Vegetable oil (Canola, Corn, or non-virgin Olive oil) is typically extracted with hexane.

http://www.gemco-machine.com/Oil-Press/Small-Oil-Press.html

Soybean Oil Extraction by screw press yield approximately  10% to 16% of the oil. Soybeans contain approximate 20% oil by weight. So 10 Pounds of Soybean will yeild at the very most 5 ounce of oil, Probably less then 3 ounces in real world conditions. Transesterification of oil into biodiesel has an approximate yeild of 75%, which means 10 Pounds of soybeans yields approximately 3.75 to 2 ounces of biodiesel. Assuming a screw press is used for extraction (no solvents).

Mostly most people will need every acre of tiable land to ensure enough food is available. Consider that every year you will need to plan about 2.5 to 3 acres to feed a single person for a year (much more if you expect to include meat protein in your diet). Consider into your figures what happens when a crop is lost to poor weather, disease or infestation. One must grown substantial more food than is consumed to ensure there is enough in the even of a less than perfect growing season. Be prepared to have seasons where 90% to 100% of the crop ruined, becuase it does happen. The news is filled with devestating crop losses in many regions.

A more practical solution would be wood-gas, which does require chemical supplies. Wood gas uses combustible biomass (Wood, hay, etc) that is combusted in a gasifier to produce Wood gas (or refered to producer gas) consisting of Hydrogen and carbon-monoxide, Oxygen and nitrogen, This gas is feed into an engine (gasoline, diesel or Natural gas power engines). An engine running on producer gas will produce about 30% of the power compared with gasoline or diesel. Other than Biomass, no chemicals or supplies are required, Only the materials required to construct the gasifier and connect it to the engine are required. Woodgas was widely used during WW2 and after when Fuel became unavailable. Farmers turned to Wood-gas to run farm machinary, not biodiesel (as Rudolf Diesel has intended when he designed the diesel engine)

Note: Handling Lye and Methnol is hazardous. Methenol poisioning can occur if it touches your skin or inhaled. Lye is very caustic and will burn flesh to the bone,  Washing lye with water can increase the damage caused, since water will feed anhyrogous lye causing it to aggressively attack flesh.. A solution of Sodium bicarbonate (works with both acids and bases). Eye contact with either Methanol or Lye will result in blindness or at least impaired sight in very small quantities. Extreme caution and good safety equipment is required at all times when handling these chemicals.I noticed in the video that the operator adding Lye into the batch did not wear the proper gloves as there was skin exposed that would be easily burned if some of the lye touched on his exposed forearms. You need to wear full arm gloves when handling Lye.  That said Producer gas is also poisonous and does require safety precausions too.

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TechGuy wrote: The biggest

TechGuy wrote:

The biggest hurdle is where do you get all these supplies when Oil becomes unavailable or just rediculuously expensive?   I believe your making a poor assumption that these will be available when oil become unavailable. If you planning on Biofuels to replace your fossil fuel inputs, you will need to provide the means to produce methanol, Lye and most import Vegetable oil.

OK, not sure if you read the article, these things were addressed. I use very little methanol and lye, (both of which I CAN make myself) and I grow veggi oil.

TechGuy wrote:

FWIW: The production of Vegetable oil with reasonable extraction yields requires industrialize production.

Sorry, this is simply false. True, industrially it is done chemically. People do this with a screw press in real life every day. Seriously.

TechGuy wrote:

Mostly most people will need every acre of tiable land to ensure enough food is available. Consider that every year you will need to plan about 2.5 to 3 acres to feed a single person for a year (much more if you expect to include meat protein in your diet). Consider into your figures what happens when a crop is lost to poor weather, disease or infestation. One must grown substantial more food than is consumed to ensure there is enough in the even of a less than perfect growing season. Be prepared to have seasons where 90% to 100% of the crop ruined, becuase it does happen. The news is filled with devestating crop losses in many regions.

Got it. We should just give up and roll over since everything is going to pot and we won't have anything, must rely 100% on ourselves, and there is only one solution, which is...

TechGuy wrote:

A more practical solution would be wood-gas, which does require chemical supplies. Wood gas uses combustible biomass (Wood, hay, etc) that is combusted in a gasifier to produce Wood gas (or refered to producer gas) consisting of Hydrogen and carbon-monoxide, Oxygen and nitrogen, This gas is feed into an engine (gasoline, diesel or Natural gas power engines). An engine running on producer gas will produce about 30% of the power compared with gasoline or diesel. Other than Biomass, no chemicals or supplies are required, Only the materials required to construct the gasifier and connect it to the engine are required. Woodgas was widely used during WW2 and after when Fuel became unavailable. Farmers turned to Wood-gas to run farm machinary, not biodiesel (as Rudolf Diesel has intended when he designed the diesel engine)

I'm not going to get into a debate over provider gas. I can say that I have personally tried it, and summarily dismissed it. The fact that everyone else has with the availibily of liquid fuels should say something as well.

Have you actually tried any of this stuff, or is this all opionion based on what you have read over the net?

BTW - Rudolph Diesel - his early designs were based on coal dust. They were later adapted to penut oil. Common misconception, propagated over the internet, that he designed his engine so the peanut farmer could produce his own fuel. That was an afterthought. 

Now, let me say this. You miss my point completely on this post. You are also making a lot of assumptions. For example, if petroleum is no longer available, neither is my job. Therefore, I move to the farm, no more commuting, my diesel useage drops to 10% what it is now. It's all realative.

I wish you better luck on your provider gas than most of the rest of us. Please let us know how many miles you have clocked on it so far.

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LOL

Ready wrote:

Got it. We should just give up and roll over since everything is going to pot and we won't have anything, must rely 100% on ourselves, and there is only one solution, which is...

DUCKWEED!!!!!!!!

C'mon Ready, keyboard cowboy-up already. Who needs the real world and all its trials and tribulations when we can generate so much self-esteem by pooh-poohing the work of others????????????????? (Damn.... I broke a nail on the "?" key)

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Conical bottomoed cylinders

Hey Ready - where do you get those conical bottomed cylinders, and what are they made of?  Just wondering as they look like they would make excellent clarifiers for my aquaponics system and I can't find them here in the size I want. 

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Keyboard Cowboy

JAG,

Reading that back, it sounds a little snippy. I'm glad you got a laugh out of it, which was the intention.

Patrick,

These guys have just about every config you might want:

http://www.plastic-mart.com/class.php?cat=19&gclid=CPHZnpTx9qgCFUcKKgodQ1FEVA

but are not necessarily the best prices. If you tell me what size you are looking for, I'll help you find the right one.

Cheers,

Keyboard Cowboy

Edit to add: Ace Roto Mold is the big manufactuerer here in the US. Perhaps you can search for a distributor of their products in CR?

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Farmer Brown wrote: Hey

Farmer Brown wrote:

Hey Ready - where do you get those conical bottomed cylinders, and what are they made of?  Just wondering as they look like they would make excellent clarifiers for my aquaponics system and I can't find them here in the size I want. 

If you can't buy one you could try to make one like this guy: http://www.gardenendeavors.com/rack/conepage.html

Though this retrofit example probably doesn't have enough diameter for good settling of solids.

Best....Jeff

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OK, not sure if you read the

OK, not sure if you read the article, these things were addressed. I use very little methanol and lye, (both of which I CAN make myself) and I grow veggi oil.

Just to clarify, You say grow soybeans and and extract oil from them using a screw press? So how much Oil do you yield (Bushel/Weight) so we can get some real world figures. From the article and some of the comments it appears to me that you where using recycled Oil, and that you had not done the actual extraction process yourself. Please provide details on the methods you use to harverst, remove the chaff, drying,  storage and extract the oil from the crop. That would much more useful information than the transesterication process. I am interested in what equipment you used to harvest the soybean from the field, since typically that requires very expensive AG hardware. Where did you aquire the screw press and how much did it cost? How much soybean can your screw press process per hour? 

Now, let me say this. You miss my point completely on this post. You are also making a lot of assumptions. For example, if petroleum is no longer available, neither is my job. Therefore, I move to the farm, no more commuting, my diesel useage drops to 10% what it is now. It's all realative

No, I did assume no fuel required for job commute. I was refering to getting the chemicals need to for transesterication which are typically purchased from a chemical supplier manufactured using industial processes and fossil fuels to get it delivered to you. . You didn not discuss in your article that you were producing your own Methanol and Lye.  If you are indeed producting your own Methanol and Lye, I would be very interested in the proceses you used to make them. Please provide the details. Understanding the processed required to DIY produce Lye and Methanol would extremely useful. Please discuss all of the equipment and what inputs you used to produce them, and what your yields are. How much can you make per batch?

I am sorry, if I comming across negative, but its all too common to see people discuss DIY processes without providing the details on how to provide all the inputs without access to industrial production. They tend to discuss the easy parts only, and ignore they most difficult tasks required for true DIY project. if your going to discuss Biodiesel production. Lets have a complete understanding of the process from A-Z! I am sure everyone would be interest in a complete DIY system.

Sorry, this is simply false. True, industrially it is done chemically. People do this with a screw press in real life every day. Seriously.

I understand that. but I recall reading that screw extraction yields are very low, typically 10% to 16% (see the link I provided in my earlier) post. If you are able to provide much higher extraction rates with a screw press, I would indeed be very interested. My understanding is that with solvent extraction, the typical yeild is between 55% and 69% extraction, which is multple times more effective than screw extraction. Is this False?

Thank You!

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JAG wrote: Farmer Brown

JAG wrote:

Farmer Brown wrote:

Hey Ready - where do you get those conical bottomed cylinders, and what are they made of?  Just wondering as they look like they would make excellent clarifiers for my aquaponics system and I can't find them here in the size I want. 

If you can't buy one you could try to make one like this guy: http://www.gardenendeavors.com/rack/conepage.html

Though this retrofit example probably doesn't have enough diameter for good settling of solids.

Best....Jeff

Awesome!!  I'd seen another "how-to" on this somewhere else, but I couldn't follow it all.  This is perfect!

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Techguy...

I'll give you another chance to read the post before I respond. Perhaps you can rephrase your questions (and tone would be nice too) once you understand what was written. I'll get you started. In your opening sentence, you start by misquoting what I wrote. I never said I grow soy.

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I'll give you another chance

I'll give you another chance to read the post before I respond. Perhaps you can rephrase your questions (and tone would be nice too) once you understand what was written. I'll get you started. In your opening sentence, you start by misquoting what I wrote. I never said I grow soy.

I'm sorry, I indeed in correctly misread. It's Canola. Can you please elaborate how you handled and processed Canola and how you pressed it to extract the oil and provide the yields you achieved.

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Pressing

Why sure.

I use a John Deere row planter behind my Mahindra tractor to plant the canola seed which I originally purchased from a group at University of Kansas (similar geography to my farm) where they were testing canola for best oil production in our conditions. There's a name for it, but I can't think of it right now, KU-XXXXX something or other.

I irrigate the crop when necessary (not often) with the 3 acre lake I dug up the hill from the field. I put a 4" pipe thru the levvvy over to the top of the field with a valve on it. The pressure I get with all that water weight is quite a sight! The lake is about 25' deep where the pipe is, and is about 50' above the field.

I windrow the canola when it is ready to be harvested with an Allis Chamlers mower / conditioner being pulled by the Mahindra. The conditioning rollers are set loose to eliminate seed breakage.

I then let it dry in windrows unitl the average is 10% moisture. Usually 2 days to a week. I say average because the canola does not mature at the same time from the top to the bottom of the plant, so there is going to be a variation from top to bottom and row to row as to the actual oil content in each seed.

I then harvest with my AC All Crop 66 PTO Combine. This will clean the seed so well that it is ready to go directly back into the planter or press without further processing. Again, this is pulled and powered by the Mahindra.

I then let the seed dry a bit more using air and sun - passively.

I then use the PTO off my Kioti tractor to drive my screw press. The way to get a good oil delivery from a screw press is as follows:

Start out slow with the jaws wide open. This doesn't press so mush as start to crack the seeds open and get a good slush of seed, oil, and husk going. Then, once it's really well lubricated up from the oil, I slowly start to crank it down until I get good oil with no husk. At this point I can go one of 2 directions.

1 - trying to keep oil in the seedcake for animal feed - just speed up the tractor and run it.

2 - trying to get max oil and dry cake - close it down more, keep speed low, measure temps on the output oil and don't let it get too hot. 160* F is too hot.

#1 will give you faster production and better feed. #2 will give you more oil.

Everything you just read is powered by a diesel engine.

I've got pics and videos of all this stuff, I just don't have them right here. JAG and others have seen the pics, and Aaron Moyer has seen it in person, so hopefully we can get past this sticking point that I am not really doing this and don't have a clue. I've got well over 100,000 miles on grease under my belt. I may not know crap about gold, inflation, or derivitives, but this is something I do know.

Next you will probably have concerns with the amount of farm gear that is needed. Again, I would ask you to read the post in the spirit in which it was intended. That is:

People who are farmers already have this gear

People who are just starting out, the target audience for this post, will not. That is why I focused on WVO and the process rather than the farming. You notice Robbie didn't ask how to grow or harvest a crop - he already does all that.

People reading this are more likely to want to do BioD than SVO, since it does not require kits to be installed into the vehicle. This is not what I primarily do anymore, I use predominantly SVO. The post was written the way it was for the intended audience.

I will also say that you and I are coming from a very divergent belief set. Apparently, you think that at some point in the near future, oil and natural gas will be unobtainable, and we will be required to grow 100% of what is needed to sustain our families. I disagree with this at a core level. That being said, you can take what you like from this article, if anything, and fit it to your belief system. I do not think either of our belief systems are incompatable with this post. If you read the responses, you will see Lye can be made via hardwood ash (I just so happen to heat with wood in an outdoor furnace) and I mention that Ethanol can be produced in small quanitities as a replacment for Methanol for use in BioD within the post. I also mention to Poet that 2 - 3 acres does not justify the farming equipment, and he should partner with someone who already has it, or go the WVO route.

I leave about this time every Friday to head to the farm, and I don't do much internet stuff while there, so this will be my last post for a few days. I hope I have put some of your concerns to bed. If not, we'll pick up next week.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 627
Ready is right, gettin' the

Ready is right, gettin' the seed and gettin' it clean is the easy part.  Storing it is slightly dicey for me if its as small as rapeseed,i'l guess .8-1.4mm seed size. Finches are our biggest problem they'll clean us out in our area. combining cleans'em, ie. no need to cut and windrow, just combine,then bale hay stem/straw/etc. and plant next crop.(graze katahdin sheep,no dairy as the high oil makes the milk/cheese/butter taste odd)

I get the sense folks are pickin' on Ready, usually these are people who've never sweat for aliving.

OBTW, I'll grow and combine on yield share anyone who is serious about BioD in our area. Southcentral VA.

 

Robie, a poor typist and tired of picky folk

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