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Is meth recovery worth it?
Hey all,

I have a modified appleseed, 55 gal drum in place of water heater, that I just finished rebuilding with cone bottom tanks and wood chip filter columns. I'm now considering methanol recovery but wondering if the effort and expense is worth it. Currently I demeth prior to filtering using the bubble method although I am concerned about the vapors building up in my garage (I think the ridge vent I had put in with my last roof job is taking care of it) and what environmental affect it might have.

What percentage of meth introduced into the process can be reclaimed? If I use 8 gals per batch, how much could I expect to get back out?

Are most people collecting the by-product than distilling the meth out of it in a seperate process or distilling the meth directly from the reaction vessel?

I utilize a 5% pre-wash to reduce soap content, will that affect the recovery process?

My most recent purchase of Meth cost me a bit under $2/gal, with that I wonder if I can recover enough meth to make it worth the effort and expense. Time and money are short these days.

Where's the beef?


Dana Knight "dckfly"
Boulder, CO

Chevy Silverado Duramax
3 VW TDI (wife and friends)
Location: Boulder, CO | Registered: May 13, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hey dckfly,

Using the whole batch demeth as an example, putting in 8 gal. getting back about 3.5 gal.

Not to bad.
Registered: June 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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$2/gallon is a good price for methanol now, but that will probably change before long. When I started producing it was about $4 to $5/gallon. At $2/gallon it is still worth reclaiming. The Whole Batch Demeth is very promising.
Location: Chambodia | Registered: December 31, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What I've read and observed is that most people that recover methanol do it in batches, and only bother recovering from the raw glycerin. They water-wash the biodiesel, which removes the residual methanol, along with the residual soaps and glycerin. Methanol isn't easily recovered from wash water, and I know of no-one doing it.

The glycerin layer contains most of the recoverable methanol (about 2/3 of the left over methanol) and is more concentrated than the biodiesel. That reduces effort. Also, many folks worry about the effect distillation will have on the biodiesel, but don't care about "harming" the glycerin.

Of folks brewing biodiesel, I'd guess less than half recover methanol. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who runs workshops and the like, in case my estimate is way off.

I save the raw glycerin from summer processing until winter, then recover the methanol all in one batch. It's easier to condense the methanol vapors in cold weather. I mix the slightly wet recovered methanol at about 1:5 or so with fresh methanol for making biodiesel.

Recovery from the entire batch is a relatively new method(s). There's a lot of interest in it, but I don't read of many people using it yet. It is growing in popularity. It requires a little more complicated technique to insure the fuel is unaffected, but the ability to recover over a third of the methnaol you started with makes it quite attractive. It also reduces pollution.

BTW, ridge vents will NOT help methanol vapors escape - they're heavier than air and collect on the floor, looking for an ignition source or someone's metabolism to absorb into.

Location: Moses Lake, WA, USA | Registered: August 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post

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I don't recover from the biodiesel, although I do demeth it before sending it through resin beds. My distilling unit for the glycerine layer is just a water heater converted for that dedicated use. This link is to the new system, and for an explanation of how to build the condenser there's a link from that page to the old system where a parts list is included. (those who have the condenser page bookmarked will not lose it as the URL is the same).

The methanol that I recover is done in 32Lt batches of glycerine while doing other phases, like processing, or demething or filtering/purifying, or all of the above simultaneously. I then take the recovered methnaol and put that into a dedicated drum from which I then pump out 2Lt's for each 14 Lt's fresh per batch for a total of 16Lt's. I have found that doing it this way allows me to meter out the recovered methanol vs the fresh and thereby reduce the overall cost of a batch while keeping that much more methanol out of the ecology. I also use the fully demethed glycerine for soap making so it's important that it is fully demethed. The value added of soap making from the glycerine layer further depresses the overall financial outlay for this hobby once it is understood and done properly.

** Biodiesel Glycerine Soap - The Guide
- on 5 continents helping people make & sell soap from the Biodiesel Glycerine.

Location: :-) Great White North eh ? | Registered: December 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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