Using the Appleseed style of Water Heater processor, If you are using say 55 gallon drums for flash & storage tanks - I assume you should be using a 40-50 gallon WH processor. That said, can you use a larger Water Heater for the processor around 80 gallons and only actually fill/produce the 35-40 gallons in it that max the 55 gallon drums will hold? I plan on using a pump to circulate the batch in process.
Sure, nothing says that you have to run the processor full, or at any certain percentage of its capacity, after considering headspace for expansion and so forth. You may give up some efficiency running it light, but I'm not sure it would make enough of a difference to concern you.
One important caveat, though: if you are using the standard submerged heating elements in the water heater processor (as opposed to external inline heaters, for example), make absolutely sure that your liquid level covers all elements at all times. Otherwise, the best case scenario is a very quickly burned-out element, and the worst case scenario...methanol vapors go boom, flaming hot oil in mid-process is blown everywhere, and your fiery attached garage ultimately burns down your whole house. (The hyperbole is intentional because the issue is real. I removed the upper element in my processor altogether and plugged the port, just to avoid any potential issues. Approached correctly, the appleseed is a fine processor design and quite safe. I've made thousands of gallons in one...though admittedly not recently.)
I've read that thoroughly, it just doesn't say anything about using a larger water heater to produce smaller batches.
Understood. That was my main question really - could I process smaller amounts than a processor's total capacity. Ergo running at 50% or so in an 80 gallon WH processor to transfer to 55 gallon drums.
What in-line style heating elements would you recommend using if not using the water heater elements themselves?
Another question..... what would be the most cost effective way to dry wash? I see there are quite a few people running sawdust or wood chips in PVC it looks like? Most people I have talked to say to stay away from water washing in the cold and in general for newer Diesel motors.
I've always liked the simple evaporation of the methanol and then filtering off the soap. If you have NaOH soap, its a firm soap and that makes it easy. If you use KOH, the soap is more gel, but using thicker filters (doubling up the standard filters) it accomplishes the same thing.
No water consumed. No sawdust consumed. Nothing consumed, except electricity to warm the biodiesel up and circulate, circulate, circulate until testing shows its good. Then you can even winterize it still warm and run it knowing it never had a chance to form any precipitate.
And when you get a feel for how long it takes to get the soap out at a certain temperature, just always go that long at that temp., plus 10% or so for safety.
I should have been more clear. I used the regular water heater element in my appleseed processor -- but only the bottom / lower element. I removed and plugged the upper element, just to reduce the chance that it would ever be powered while not covered in oil. The single element was adequate to heat the oil, and if memory is reliable, I was making about 40-gallon batches in a 50-gallon processor.
As for inline heaters, mine were homemade and still relied upon water heater elements -- but they were not used in a standard tank heater. I did not use them for biodiesel production, but more with my WVO experiments. For example, I cleaned ("filtered") my oil for WVO use in a centrifuge, essentially removing all particulate. Heating the oil greatly increased the speed and effectiveness of the centrifuge process. I used standard black pipe and fittings to build an "inline heater" using a standard water heater element. I'm sure there are pictures or plans around here somewhere. Then I positioned this setup such that the element was at the lowest point in the system, and guaranteed to be covered by oil any time it was powered and the system was running.
I can't help you with the dry wash questions, as I never bothered with that. I always water washed and found it to be easy and effective. As long as the fuel is dried afterwards, I think all the "modern engine" caveats are mostly nonsense. Dry fuel is dry fuel, regardless of how you get there. I have run homebrew biodiesel (up to and including B100) in everything from a John Deere tractor to tens of thousands of miles on a W210 Mercedes E-class (two-tank conversion, using B100 and WVO) to tens of thousands of miles on a Volkswagen Touareg V10TDI. Other than a periodic filter change, I never had a fuel-related problem. Along with various ranch implements, I currently drive a Dodge Ram with the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel. The truck has seen some biodiesel, but admittedly less than my prior vehicles -- the result of limited time to make my own fuel and relatively inexpensive current diesel prices. (For future searches and posterity, I believe I paid $2.30/gal at the pump earlier this week.)
The concerns regarding DPF (diesel particulate filters) and after-injection of biodiesel are well-covered, so do your research depending on the make and model of vehicle you intend to use. Most of the associated issues are surmountable with one method or another -- e.g., reduce biodiesel percentage with D1/D2 blend, increase frequency of lube oil changes, etc.
Maybe it should say something about that.
Its ok to run partial batches as long as you don't expose a water heater to air when heating.
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