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What I've learned about vacuum systems so far
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Well, I just built my first vacuum system to help collect/transfer oil. I've used it twice so far to try to empty 180 gal of oil that was in my truck bed (in 55 gal drums) into an IBC tote behind my shop, and I learned that when it comes to transfering oil, GO BIG!

Here's my current setup. Don't laugh too hard. I started out with a 20 gal tank. I know its small, but I wanted something to start with that I could strap to my ATV. The IBC is behind my shop, which is behind the house in the back yard. It's spring time, so the ground is soft. The ATV is usefull for moving stuff through the yard right now without tearing it up too bad. I also knew that I'd want something smaller down the road to move small quanities from the IBC to my filter setup in the garage. I needed to be able to get the tank into the back of the truck by hand, and I also didn't want to break the bank starting out. So I bought a 21 gal vertical air compressor onsale from harbor freight ($150), stripped the compressor off, and installed my fittings. I'm using murphy's pump, and I have it set up with 2 male quick connect fittings. One on each end. My tank has a 1/4" valve with a male quick connect. I built a small addapter using a 1/4" nipple and two female quick connects. This lets me use a small section of air hose to go between the pump and the tank, and lets me swap back and forth between pressure and suction without having to buy a extra valves and fittings. I run it with a 12 V marine battery that I have for my trolling motor.

For my suction line, I started out using 3/4" everything because I could get it all from the same place (Utah biodiesel Supply). I ordered some of thier 3/4" banjo fittings and used 3/4" vinyle hose. I spent 3 hours using the set up the first evening and only managed to get 80 gal out of the drums. It was 40 deg outside, but I cold see the oil flowing quickly through the 3/4" fittings. It just took a while. To empty the tank into the IBC tote, I use a compressed air line hooked the tank and regulated to 20 pounds. I came to the conclusion that 3/4" just wasn't big enough if I'm wanting to move any significant volume, especially at cooler temperatures. So the next day I took a trip to my local hardware and Tractor Supply store, and picked up some 1 1/2" PVC suction line, 1 1/2" banjo style fittings, and the 1 1/2" valves and fittings that I was going to need to upgrade my setup. That evening I welded the new fitting onto the tank, and hooked it all up. WOW what a difference. The tank now fills in a minute or so, and 20 PSI pushes a LOT of oil out of a 1 1/2" line! I emptied another 60 gal in about 30 min, and most of that time was spent running the ATV back and forth, hooking things up, and waiting for the vacuum pump to charge the tank again. This is the set up that I have now, and it's working well for me.

The next step will be to get an 60~80 gal tank to use. I'm going to put bigger wheels on my 20 gal tank at which point it will be very usefull for things like filling my fuel tank this summer. I've planned on getting a tank this size from the beginning, but before I spent the money on one, I wanted to make sure that everything else was going to work out alright. I don't normally like buying things twice (like going from 3/4 to 1 1/2" fittings), but I didn't mind this time around since I knew there would be times when I would need a smaller, more portable tank anyway. I left the 3/4" fittings on it, and just leave the valve closed. The 3/4" fittings will work fine with my goldenrod, and a fuel nozzel.

Mark
 
Location: SW Indiana (Brazil) | Registered: August 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Update - I've learned a few more things now that my oil has settled well, and I've started filtering, mixing with D2, and using it in the truck. Probably the most important lesson has been this. When you have fluid in a tank, and you apply air pressure, even small amounts, to force the liquid out, when the tank runs out of fluid, MAKE SURE THE END OF THE TRANSFER LINE IS SECURE! I have been filtering the oil into a 55 gal drum using sock filters. I use the 20 gal tank previously mentioned, and I apply around 15 PSI to it, stick the end of the poly line (which has a 3/4" brass hosebarb, steel coupling, and 6" black pipe nipple on the end) into the top of the sock filter and crack the 3/4" valve open back at the tank. I stick the hose end into the filter far enough that it stays put, and I keep an eye on the oil level in the sock and adjust the valve accordingly to make sure it doesn't overflow. Well, when the dank ran dry, or at least started to, the end of the hose jumped out of the sock filter and coated a section of the garage wall with oily mist. After it was all said and done, and since nothing was really damaged, it was pretty funny, but it could have turned out pretty bad.

A couple of other things I noticed. If I charge my 20 gal tank with vacuum, down to around 25 inHg, and then fill it with oil, it only pulls in about 10 gal of oil. If I start with an uncharged tank, stick the fill line into the IBC tote, hook up the vac pump, and let it fill that way, it only takes a minute or two for the tank to be completely full. At that point the vacuum pump acts more like an injection valve and begins spraying an oily mist about 20 feet across the yard. Turns out that Veg Oil makes a pretty good weed/vegitation killer.... I need to come up with some kind of check valve to go between the tank and the vac pump when I use a smaller tank like this. Or at least some kind of buffer. I'm thinking about mounting the pump to a 5 or 10 gal tank and using it as a surge tank. I can run 1/4" ro 3/8" poly tube from the surge tank to the tank which will significantly reduce how quickly the oil can enter the surge tank. The poly tube is also translucent so I can see when it starts to happen and shut the vac pump down way before ti becomes a serious problem.
 
Location: SW Indiana (Brazil) | Registered: August 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When you have fluid in a tank, and you apply air pressure, even small amounts, to force the liquid out, when the tank runs out of fluid, MAKE SURE THE END OF THE TRANSFER LINE IS SECURE!


Been there. Done that. AGREED!!

quote:
the vacuum pump acts more like an injection valve and begins spraying an oily mist about 20 feet across the yard.


Try it sometime with the pump outlet pointed at the rear window of your truck. Vaporized vege oil careening off a flat window makes a very pretty, and very messy, rainbow in the air!

quote:
I need to come up with some kind of check valve to go between the tank and the vac pump when I use a smaller tank like this.


That's about how I handled it; I added a 1gal clear plastic tank between the main tank and the pump. I watch that small tank like a hawk when I think its getting close. The oil goes in slow enough that I have, so far, always been able to kill the pump or shut the valve before that 1gal clear jug fills up and the oil hits the pump. I just used the biggest home water filter housing I could find that was clear. Rated for 250psi, so it has no problem handling 27 inHg vacuum.
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Ryan P.:

Try it sometime with the pump outlet pointed at the rear window of your truck. Vaporized vege oil careening off a flat window makes a very pretty, and very messy, rainbow in the air!


Very cool! The kids would really like to see that! LOL


quote:
That's about how I handled it; I added a 1gal clear plastic tank between the main tank and the pump. I watch that small tank like a hawk when I think its getting close. The oil goes in slow enough that I have, so far, always been able to kill the pump or shut the valve before that 1gal clear jug fills up and the oil hits the pump. I just used the biggest home water filter housing I could find that was clear. Rated for 250psi, so it has no problem handling 27 inHg vacuum.


That's a good idea. I'm not sure 1 gal would be enough for me, but maybe put a pair of them in sequence. While I don't have a lot of oil related useds for my 10 gal tank, I wouldn't mind plugging the 3/4" coupling that I welded in and converting it back to an air tank. I've got another one just like it (but no wheels) that I like a lot. It would be nice to have one with wheels Smile
 
Location: SW Indiana (Brazil) | Registered: August 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Update - I've converted my 10 gal tank to be a surge/buffer tank like I mentioned, and it's working well. Only problem so far is that the 3/8" PTFE tubing that I'm using with it is not holding up very well to being kinked when I'm not careful with it. I'll switch to a braided line which should eliminate that problem.

Using the 50gal water heater is working well. With no pre-charge, I'm able to fill it with oil in about 10 min with my 12v Vac Pump. I welded some 1 1/2" nipples on it and installed valves and female banjo fittings. Works well. On the discharge line, I made an adapter to step down from the 1 1/2" line to a 3/8" line. I hooked 15' of 3/8" line to it and found that the discharge rate happened to be just right so that it didn't over flow my sock filters. I've got 3 stuffed together. One is 75 micron, one is 5, and the outter one is 1 micron. I've got a filter head for them, but haven't used it yet. That will be the next step. I didn't want to clean the front of the gargage out, so the 25' of line was long enough to reach from my tank wich was on my ATV cart, to my filter system which was towards the back of the garage. Nice to get lucky once in a while.

Long term, I'm going to have to break down and buy an actual pressure tank and mount it to a trailer. I picked up 150 gal last night. Long story, but it had a lot of grease in it, and it was in over a dozen differnet drums. The up side is that it only took me 2 hours to get it sucked up and pumped into barrels in the back of the truck. The down side is that it took me 2 hours to suck it up and pump it into the back of the truck. With a trailer mounted system, I could have easily been done in 30 min or even a lot less. I could have had the tank pre-charged with vacuum, I wouldn't have had to pump it back out into seperate drums, the system wouldn't have had to lift the oil/grease 6' in the air to get it into drums, and I wouldn't have had to start over with zero vacuum every 50 gal batch. For now I'm happy with what I have though. It fits my budget, I'm learning a lot on it, and it will move reasonable amounts of oil relatively quickly.
 
Location: SW Indiana (Brazil) | Registered: August 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you are going to use PTFE tubing and are worried about it kinking whick it will eventually and a flexible situation. You need to use Convoluted PTFE Tubing, This will give ytou the flexibility that you are looking for and keep all the properties of the PTFE. The only tricky part is that you are going to need to cuff the ends so that you can attach the Tube to your fittings.

Convoluted PTFE Tubing

With Cuffs

Hope this helps.
 
Registered: February 09, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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