I have been making biodiesel now for the past 2 years and my concern on recovering the methanol has gone up pretty high. I am on here now going through different forums and reading about this and that. I guess you need to do it do understand what some people are talking about. I have never made a still so I am trying to figure out what to make. If I understand this right, you need a container that is vapor proof to start with. Drill and tap in a water heater element with a control temp device. Copper vapor tube running up out of the container into some type of cool down. I was thinking about a small radiator with a fan? Then a hose running down into another sealed container with the recovered methanol. If I understood that correctly, I also heard the magic temp is around 147 degrees to evap. methanol from the glyc? The temp will go up once the methanol start evap. and once it hits about 190 degrees it's pretty much done? If you have pictures of any of your setups that would help me on my way.
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I have posted pictures of my setup so have others.
190F isn't done..I seem to remember that done is closer to 240F, but most don't run that high or that long..I stop at 205F
research reflux columns...
fan cooled radiators make great conedsers..that's what I use..
mine built from a water heater.
methanol/glycerin mix will start boiling around 170 and go up depending on ration. pure methanol boils at 148.xxF.
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This is my set up. Be sure to check out the old version too as there is a parts list there as well as a how-to make the coil for the condenser.
Methanol begins evaporating at 148.5F. My pot temp gets to 260-265F before I am through with recovery. You can get away with less but not if you are planning on using it for soap making afterwards.
For a more professional still, be it pot or reflux, Moonshine Still has excellent step by step instructions.
** Biodiesel Glycerine Soap - The Guide
- on 5 continents helping people make & sell soap from the Biodiesel Glycerine.
First, decide if you are going to build a completly different setup for distilling or are you going to use your existing reactor. I chose to use my existing appleseed reactor. I had already modified my reactor so that the heating elements were in-line with the pump so there was no plastic lines that would be seeing the extreme temperatures needed for meth recovery. This lets me distill methanol right after I make a batch of bio before it goes into the wash tank. I also can use it for distilling from glycerine (I wait until I have about 30 gal before doing glycerine) but then you have to clean out the tank before starting the next batch of bio.
Keep in mind that whatever you use, you will be dealing with liquids at temperatures well over 200 degrees - plastic won't take this for long. I've run mine as high as 250F. (I actually hit 270 one time when I forgot to shut it off - I now have timers and high temp limits to prevent this!)
You will need some sort of condenser. You can use a radiator and air for cooling or you can use water for cooling. The Graham Laming Condenser is popular - it's what I used. Basically it's a 1/2 inch copper tube inside of a 3/4 inch copper tube. Details Here
Inserting a Reflux column between the boiler and the condenser helps a great deal with purity but this can be added later after you get the feel for the basics.
When circulating & heating either bio or glycerine in the tank, the temperature of the liquid steadly climbs to well over 200 degrees (or whenever you decide to stop). The methanol vapor starts boiling off when the liquid passes 150 degrees or so. The temperature of this vapor before it hits the condenser stays in the 150-160 degree range while the liquid keeps getting hotter and hotter. When the vapor temperature starts to climb it indicates that there is something else making the vapor beside methanol - most likely water, which reduces your purity.
Keep in mind that the methanol you distill is not as "potent" as the fresh stuff - you will need a bit more to get the same results.
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