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50 gallon water heater with vacuum pump in action
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Hello,

First time posting to this forum but thought I would open up my methanol recovery unit design for criticism or suggestions.

Video showing the unit in action.

It definately works...although I have no way of measuring the purity of the methanol recovered. I have also tried to cook my bio and have had mixed results:

    The first time when the vacuum pump was turned on about 30 minutes after water heater had started, and clear methanol was recovered.
    The second time the bio was heated up for an hour or so until it began to boil on its own and then started the vacuum pump. The result was far different where this run produced both fuel and methanol mixed into the carboy.


I have no explanation for this...other than we could have over filled the water heater??? There's no way that the bio began to boil in the tank right? Even under a vacuum, it should have taken much higher temps to boil. I wish I had an inline temp gauge where the copper line meets the hot water tank. Any ideas where I can find one of those?

Thx,
Gaylen
 
Registered: July 08, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I use my apple seed reactor with vacuum recovery which is similar to your setup. I get clear methanol that is about 93% pure. I have found that using too much heat and or vacuum will boil off some of the glycerol and discolor the methanol. I have also found that slightly discolored methanol works ok.

I heat about 100 liters glycerol to 170 degrees Fahrenheit with about 10hg vacuum. I use coiled copper tubing in a 5 gallon bucket with running water to condense. I use the exhaust from the vacuum pump to bubble wash. This helps git rid of uncondensed fumes. It takes about four hours for all the methanol to boil off.

I am currently recovering about 25% of my methanol. I am not sure how much recovery is possible.

I am still experimenting to find the optimum temp/vacuum to use. I believe more vacuum makes the methanol harder to condense so I am tending toward higher temperature less vacuum.

I get maybe two liters of methanol from about 25 120 liters of bio-diesel. I haven't decided if its worth the effort.

I tried distilling bio-diesel and glycerin together and made peanut butter.
 
Registered: December 19, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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WOW!! Gaylen...Awesome...
 
Location: Ontario | Registered: April 13, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
have no explanation for this...other than we could have over filled the water heater??? There's no way that the bio began to boil in the tank right

quote:
I have no explanation for this...other than we could have over filled the water heater??? There's no way that the bio began to boil in the tank right? Even under a vacuum, it should have taken much higher temps to boil. I wish I had an inline temp gauge where the copper line meets the hot water tank. Any ideas where I can find one of those?

You could be boiling bio off ,and more likely some water. My guess is you've drained the glycerin out? I've been doing MR to my glycerin and found out after I purchased a hyrometer I had 9% water in the methanol. You might think about buying a laser thermometer to check temp's where the vapor exits the reactor. Harbor Freight sells them for @30 bucks.
 
Location: western new york | Registered: November 19, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Please remember that an IR thermometer is dependant on the emissivity of the material being measured.

A few wraps of electrical tape (emissivity of nearly 1) does wonders for the accuracy of the measurements.

Tony


2002 Ford Excursion 7.3l
1983 Mercedes 300D
GL processor
You're not finished when you lose,
You're finished when you quit.
 
Location: Tampa, Fl | Registered: April 27, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have a couple of suggestions if your interested;

The carboy should be insulated and the top packed in ice to help keep the methanol out of your vacuum pump oil. (My carboy is wrapped in silver bubble wrap that extends about 4" above the top of the carboy, I fill the top with ice and then wrap it all in a wool blanket)
I would cut the copper input tube in the carboy above the highest liquid level you expect to see, this will stop the bubbling in the carboy which in turn will also help keep the methanol out of your pump. (my pipe used to go to the bottom of my carboy too but I have since shortened it for better results and no bubbling action in the carboy.)
You should have the vac pump vented outside rather then venting into the area where there are many sources of ignition.
I can guarantee you are getting methanol in your pump with that configuration and the vapors are intern spilling into the area their, where I can count about 10 possible ignition sources without even trying. Unless you have some MAJOR air movement evacuating any fume build up that setup is an explosion waiting to happen. If your power was to hiccup for a split second and cause the vac pump to re-start it would likely ignite a sizable ball of fire around the vac pump that at the very least would cause you to soil your pants and at the worst lead to you being airlifted to the nearest burn unit, or morgue...

Play safe!
Cheers,
Jon
 
Location: Wellington County, Ontario Canada | Registered: February 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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I will put this here as well:

Just be very very careful. I used this method for some time and it works well. With that said, your pump will suck up methanol and not an insignificant amount, at least 100ml and up to 500ml. (will depend on batch size, temp and time. If you don't believe, remove the oil collector thing on the exhaust port of the vacuum pump and using a plastic hose barb for now rig a hose from there to a Mason jar with a lid on it. Put two holes in the lid, one for the hose from the vacuum pump and the other as simple vent. (want to be safe run a long exhaust hose to the outside if you are doing this in a garage.) You will see just how much methanol you have been pumping into the garage (from your video) Since you are using a AC Evac pump, you can put canola oil in it instead of synthetic oil and just collect the bio and glycerin from the pump and put it in your next batch.

As for the dark color in your pic and that someone else asked about. When using a vacuum you will get some bio/glyc/water in yuo collection tank. I believe it comes from when the flow from the pump hits the surface of the liquid in the water heater. It causes a splash. Some of the vapor is bio/glyc/water and gets carried into the collection tank.

Alternative method. I have been playing around with meth recovery for about 3 years now. I think I have tried most combinations and the best one I have found is very close to what Graham Laming first wrote up. Basically, add another T off the pump to another vent at the top of the processor. Plumb a venturi in the line. Now you also need to vent your collection vessel to the outside of the garage, peferably with that hose you are using in the video that goes to the vacuum pump. Now when the bio goes through the venturi, this will suck clean air into the processor causing an elevated pressure in the tank. However, since the collection vessel is at a lower pressure, this 'high pressure' air now full of methanol will escape through the condenser and into the collection vessel. Its the exact same thing you are doing with the vacuum pump except instead of lowering pressure to create this differential, you are raising it. The benefits of the venturi are numerous. 1) Saftey - big time. 2) It still took forever using the vacuum pump. I was expecting it to be done in 1 hour and it took 5. I think having clean air in the processor head space makes a tremendous impact and with the vacuum you don't get that. This is only a conjecture. Bottom line, vacuum was not magic. 3) Simplicity. Over time, you will have to deal with the gook that is created in the pump with the methanol and oil. Holding the vacuum is tough. All those braided hose will become brittle with bio and crack with the vacuum.

Good news is if you switch to the Venturi, you can still repurpose the vacuum pump for getting oil into the reactor. Switch it on and suck up oil! You can do the same for methoxide inejction.

Some tips if my advice makes any sense.
1. JB weld the 1"-->3/4" bushing in the outlet of the harbor frieght pump. That's where they leak from. Also, that clean out screw. I have tried every piece of teflon tape out there and simply those threads stink. You can always unscrew it, the JB will crack. If you pump doesn't seep there now it will and will if you add anything creates pressure down the line.
2. Ryan Herco has the Mazzei injectors HERE. Get the 584-PP. JB weld two female couplings on the end of these. It makes them much easier to plumb as I found the plastic to metal threads seeped. Also be carful tightening plumbing on one end while grasping the other. The Venturi will twist and snap. (Yes I did that.) also, the venturi needs an elbow or 6" length of run on it on the outlet side to create suction. (the flow needs to come back together. Don't do that and viola! The suction port becomes and geyser. (did that as well.) There is a little ball in there to prevent the geyser, but it will still leak without following my instruction above.
 
Location: Los Angeles | Registered: March 25, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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measure the purity?
you might have 10% water in you methanol..not so good.

but are you just trying to get all the methanol out? regardless of purity?

-dkenny


'84 bluebird school bus, DD8.2L turbo( 4/2011, the bus tranny has died..Frown 8.23.11 bus driven to scrap yard Frown )
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD Smile - the wife's
99 dodge 2500 5.9l 24v..-mine Smile
everything run B100 when its warm enough Smile
 
Location: RTP, North Carolina | Registered: December 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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