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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Make Biodiesel out of Used Cooking Oil

I had been very lazy to blog about food lately, and I have not even started packing for my trip to Canada!

But last night, I somehow got into reading about biofuel and biodiesel.

We all have heard about global warming...many of us want to contribute to delaying if not preventing its catastrophic effects.

I read about how the Philippines has been making biodiesel and how it targets to be a major supplier to developed countries...As usual and as I expected, there is a huge manufacturing company involved, making use of coconut oil. Of course, this does minimal to help alleviate poverty, and while it provides job opportunities for coconut farmers, it does not address the potential of recycling used cooking oil and EMPOWERING the ordinary people. I read in a forum about some Filipinos already homebrewing it, but the latest was 2004. Was there a move by the government to suppress household production of biodiesel?

I PLAN TO SOMEDAY MAKE BIODIESEL out of used cooking oil collected from nearby restaurants (if I can get them for free). But, thinking of how ubiquitous carinderias, eateries, and small restaurants in the Philippines are, I could not help but post about it here. For a start, it will be a very good science project for high school students, not only because of the issue of recycling, but also looking into the issues of alternative fuels and less carbon emission into the environment to lessen global warming, use of resources naturally abundant in the Philippines, and empowering even the common household in my beloved country in that they, too, can lessen their need for fossil fuels and can even start generating income from this (if government allows).

Why I want the high school science project as a starting point -- the high school students usually have the right chemistry background and guidance; they can easily request to "haul away for free" the waste cooking oil used by restaurants (who would be glad to get rid of the "waste" without having to pay for disposal, and who would shy away from charging the students a fee); and they can easily generate funds through solicitation letters for other materials/equipment they would need to make the project.

The diagram for the process is shown here. The biodieselcommunity.org provides a very comprehensive resource for those who want to make it on a small scale (as small as a liter) or on a larger scale.

The small batch making is simple enough to be carried out using ordinary materials (and that's how I plan to start). Families who wish to make it on a larger scale (but still small compared to the big oil manufacturers) might find use of the diagram of the "Appleseed Processor found here (needs some engineering/plumbing know-how - I am expecting that a lot of scientifically-inclined Filipino HS students will find this interesting). Negotiating for Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) is a very interesting read for gathering the most important raw material, but this will be needed only if families start making their own biodiesel out of WVO from nearby restaurants.

For the common household who want to experiment first to come up with one liter of biodiesel, here is a recipe, from the "World Famous Dr. Pepper Technique." (Dr. Pepper is the soda brand of the bottle they used in this process.)

World Famous DR Pepper Technique (Pat Pend)
The idea for the Dr Pepper Technique came about one day many years ago (it seems) when I was trying to figure out an inexpensive way of making my first few test batches of biodiesel.

I will assume that if you are reading this for the information then you are new to Biodiesel making, so just a few words of caution:

THESE ARE DANGEROUS/POISONOUS CHEMICALS.
COMMON SENSE MUST BE USED.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND THE SAFETY OF YOURSELF AND EVERYONE/EVERYTHING AROUND YOU.


METHANOL IS A POISON WHICH CAN BE ABSORBED THROUGH YOUR SKIN, BY INHILATION, OR CONSUMPTION.
METHANOL CAN CAUSE BLINDNESS AND DEATH.
METHANOL IS AS FLAMMABLE AS GASOLINE/PETROL.
CARTRIDGE RESPIRATORS DO NOT WORK WITH METHANOL.

SODIUM HYDROXIDE (Caustic soda, NaOH, lye) can cause severe burns and death. wash off with water.

Long-sleve shirt, full shoes and trousers are recommended, no shorts or sandals.
Wear chemical proof gloves, apron, and eye protection.
Always have running water available to wash off any splashes.
DO NOT INHALE ANY VAPOURS!.


Now that I have managed to scare you, just realize that Methanol is the fuel used in most Model airplanes. In the USA methanol is available in small quantities as HEET brand fuel line antifreeze (Yellow bottle)
Lye is an every-day drain cleaner.
Both are freely available in most large shopping centres.


MATERIALS REQUIRED
1 litre oil- new or used
NaOH (lye/ caustic soda), at least 6g. Used as a drain cleaner and can often be found next to the Drano.
Methanol at least 250ml. HEET® Gas- Line Antifreeze in the yellow bottle is methanol and readly available in most auto supply stores in the USA.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED
1- 2 litre (1.9 in US) Dr Pepper Bottle in sound condition with tight fitting top and dry inside.

1-measuring cup to measure out 250ml methanol
1-scales to measure 6- 7g NaOH
OR
1 teaspoon measure metric or imperial.

1- container to mix the methanol and NaOH in which makes methoxide.

1- Funnel

THE TECHNIQUE:

OIL PREPERATION

If using waste oil, take one litre and heat to at least 120 deg c to remove all water. If water is present the oil will spit and pop and carry on. If there is a lot of water this could get very violent, so be careful.
Once the water is gone (Oil becomes calm and there is no more spitting and popping) let the oil cool.

If you are using new oil from the bottle it should have no water in it, so in this case just heat to 55deg c when you are ready to mix.

MAKING THE METHOXIDE
WARNING: METHOXIDE IS A POISON!
DO NOT BREATH VAPORS.
WASH OFF ANY SPLASHES.
DO NOT MIX THE METHOXIDE IN A PLASTIC SOFT DRINK BOTTLE AS THE NaOH ATTACKS THE PLASTIC AND YOU WILL QUICKLY BE SHAKING A BOTTLE FULL OF HOLES WITH METHOXIDE GOING EVERYWHERE.

While the oil is cooling mix your methanol and NaOH(lye) to form the methoxide.
Use 250ml of methanol. This is more methanol than most people use but will help insure a successful first batch.
If you are using new oil this will require 5g (about half a Teaspoon) NaOH.
For used oil, you should do a titration to determine the correct amount of NaOH to use.
However, if you do not have the materials to do a titration, just use the imperical quantity of about 7g NaOH as this amount almost always achieves seperation. If you do not have a scales, this is about 1 level teaspoon measure (metric or imperial).

NaOH and Methanol do not readily mix, so if you are doing it by hand a bit of time and patience is required. Don't sniff the fumes. CARTRIDGE RESPIRATORS DO NOT WORK WITH METHANOL
For quickest mixing, start with the methanol at JUST body temp (not warm). As you mix, the temp will increase substantially. This is normal. Make sure ALL the NaOH (lye) is disolved. This may take 10 minutes or more.
Hand mixing can be accomplished using the back of a spoon to stir/crush the NaOH granules ina coffee cup or glass; OR placing methanol/NaOH in a glass bottle with a tight fitting top and shaking/ swirling until ALL NaOH is disolved.
After ALL the NaOH has disolved, top up to 250ml with fresh methanol, as there may be some evaporation during mixing.

MAKING THE BIODIESEL!
When the Oil's temp has dropped to 60 deg c or a bit less, using a funnel, pour the litre of oil into a DRY 2 litre Dr Pepper bottle (in a pinch any other brand of bottle will do).
Take the mixture of methanol/NaOH (commonly called methoxide on this forum) and pour on top of the oil using the same funnel.
Remove funnel.
Screw the top down TIGHT onto the bottle.
Shake vigerously for about ten seconds/ 40 good shakes.
NO appreciable pressure is generated during this mixing.

Now place the bottle on a table.
If you were using WVO you will probably observe the oil change colour from a "Light Chocolate milk to a rich, darker brown."
Then, as if by magic, within 10 minutes the by-product (commonly refered to as glycerine on this forum) starts to settle out and form an increasing layer on the bottom of the bottle.
Be sure to notice that you can see a very definate, slowly sinking line towards the top of the Biodiesel as the glycerine slowly settles.
Within an hour, most of the glycerine will be settled out.
This is referred to as seperation.
NOTE: Neutral has shown through GC tests that although one 10 second shake produces very useable Biodiesel it is in fact not ASTM conversion standard.
To produce ASTM conversion biodiesel requires titration and a further four- 5 second shakes over the space of an hour.


If you used New Oil, the colour change is not nearly as great and you may have problems seeing much of a colour change at all.

You should now have a bottle containing lighter coloured biodiesel on top of a layer of darker glycerine.
If you reacted New Oil the glycerine layer on the bottom will not be much darker than the oil you started with and the biodiesel will usually be very light in colour.
The biodiesel will be very cloudy, and it will take a day or two more for it to clear.

If it does not work out come onto the forum and see if anyone can figure out what went wrong.

And that is all there is to it. Only a little magic is involved.

Remember, after producing in excess of 53,459 litres of biodiesel in any calander year using this process, please make royality check out to Tilly From Paradise and send it to me through your favourite Numbered Swiss bank account.

CARTRIDGE RESPIRATORS DO NOT WORK WITH METHANOL

A few cautions: DON'T mix the methanol and NaOH (lye) in a plastic bottle as NaOH attacks some types of plastic. Once mixed it is quite acceptable to mix your biodiesel in a Dr Pepper plastic bottle.
Do NOT store unused methoxide in plastic bottles. Some plastic will degrade over time when in contact with methoxide.

DO NOT allow any WATER into any steps of this procedure.

Methanol boils at about 65 deg c. DO NOT mix until the oil is below 60 deg c.

Again, these are dangerous chemicals and care is necessary, especially if there are children in your home.

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND YOUR SAFETY AND THE SAFETY OF EVERYONE AROUND YOU.

I have Up-Sized the Dr Pepper technique by using a 20 litre plastic drum (longish and skinny) and make 14 litre batches. I simply lay the drum on a wooden "cradle" and place the center of the cradle on a pipe and rock back and forth for 3 or 4 minutes.
I then decant the mixture into a "finishing" container and so am ready to process another 14 litres straight away.


Now that you have a Litre of Finest biodiesel you will probably wish to wash it and this is quite easily accomplished using the World Famous Dr Pepper Wash Technique (Pat Pend).


So now that is added to my list of "Want-To-Do" in the future. I will start with producing a liter, then, if I manage to convince my husband to build me the Appleseed Processor, move on to a higher scale of production, at least for personal consumption, mainly heating our house during winter.

And yes, I am a wannabe homesteader, who wants to take part in the "Sustainable Living" and "Voluntary Simplicity" movement, who wishes to be "off the grid," and who does not share the interests of those whose dreams include "world travel" and whose top hobby is shopping (I am so against commercialism of Christmas and Halloween and other Holidays). I may sound so foreign to a lot of Filipinas now, but I know I am not alone (hi stef!) in this.

3 comments:

  1. I saw something on TV about this. I am interested with bio-diesel because my husband drives a diesel truck and it would be great if we can recycle used oil.

    The person I saw on TV recycles the oil himself and he has a 'lab' in his backyard. He invested like $5K in his equipment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi KK,
    that's a very expensive setup, but I am sure he started with the project after trying small amounts and testing on his vehicle first.
    I still have to convince my hubby to help me set up the same kind of facility, probably smaller, but only after I have made some trial-and-error experiments first.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi to all,I want to share about the envirotub.Envirotub is used for cooking oil collection and disposal.Keep update more things in the blog.

    grease disposal

    ReplyDelete

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