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House Fire

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April 25, 2010, 03:37 PM
House Fire
if a batch of fuel goes bad in the conversion process — as it often does with amateurs

-when did your last batch go so bad that it required disposal? I have been reading here for years, I can't recall anyone who has had to throw out a batch of biodiesel because something when wrong in the conversion. I have yet to meet a bad conversinon that can't be fixed!
-btw, I agree with much of what is said, but when it comes to crap I have to speak up! Tom

" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
1994 GMC 6.5 Tubo 2005 Dodge ram 3500, 3 VW's 2000, 2002, 2005.
April 25, 2010, 04:14 PM
john galt
Ah, so it is the frequency of bad batches thrown out that was the 'load of crap'. Well put.
I suspect that the members of this forum, and computer literate BD makers in general have a much better success rate than the average idiot who learned how to make bio-deezul from a buddy at the bar.
"Oh yeah, that bio-deezul is easy-peesey to make. Getcha some drano and gas line anti-freeze mix um up and toss it in with some old chip-fryer oil. Stir it up with a paint mixer on a drill then leave it sit for a week. The good stuff comes to the top, throw the rest away. Sometimes it snots up on ya, but when that happens just dump it and start over, what the heck, it's free...

It's impossible to make the world idiot proof, human nature will always provide a better idiot.

April 26, 2010, 03:25 PM
john galt
Take cooking oil and make biodiesel in your own garage

April 26, 2010, 04:56 PM
Ryan P.
So many news stories and it seems like they all feature some form of plastic processor. Sheesh...
April 26, 2010, 08:19 PM
Making biodiesel is like anything else, if it is done carefully and conscientiously and follow safe prosedures, home brewers can successfully turn out batch after batch of alternative fuel. Its the ones who do stupid things who get in trouble. But people do stupid things all the time. A neighbor spilled gasoline while filling up his lawnmower. He wanted to clean up the spilled gas so he grabbed his wet and dry vacuum. It's good for wet stuff, right? As soon as got enough gas in the drum and the fumes got to the motor, the sparks from the brushes ignited it and blew the thing to smitherines. The ensuing fire in his garage was put out by the fire department. They also cited him for having more than 10 gallons of flammable liquid in his garage. (not sure if that's a local law, a state law, or even a law at all and the firemen were just tee'd off at his stupidity)

The article on the fire in Maine suggest that home brewers should contact the fire department to let them know about the biodiesel set up. I would be very hesitant to do that in my town. If I did, they would immediately have the town counsel pass an ordinace against it. The police deptartment got an ordinace passed on security alarms. They were upset because a few people were having repeated false alarms so the ordinace made anyone with an security alarm register with the town and pay a registration fee. The registration had to include a layout of the outside and inside of the property and buildings, a primary and secondary contact person, the system had to be inspected by the town and maintained by an alarm company (who also had to register and pay a fee). So instead of punishing the offenders, they burdened the entire town. Ans many people just disconnected their alarms rather than go through the BS and pay fees and fines. And that's exactly what would happen with home brewers.

So I strongly suggest to stay smart, stay safe, think about what your doing before you do it . . . and stay underground, very deep underground.

"This biodiesel tis a cruel and heartless mistress we home brewers have chosen"
April 27, 2010, 10:34 AM
Ryan P.
Is it silly to assume that if any sort of fire occurs in my set-up, that I will be present to simply TELL the firefights when they arrive that there is vegetable oil, methanol, etc. in the structure?

I realize this doesn't leave me covered if I am not THERE, but if I am not there, just about every last thing in my shop is unplugged. That's something my dad taught me: you never know when some stupid mouse or random leak could short out a drill or anything, so just unplug everything. Only the freestanding tools stay plugged in in my shop overnight: 220V welder, air compressor, bench grinder, and drill press.

The only situation where I leave myself somewhat vulnerable is when I am asleep. I occasionally leave something circulating overnight on a timer to shut off in 4hrs or so. But if a firetruck pulled up my my house, that WOULD wake me up and I could just say, "Every last significant quantity of flammable liquid in the shop is on the south wall: 500gal of WVO toward the west side, 50 gal of methanol in the center, 35gal of biodiesel to the east side."
April 27, 2010, 05:18 PM
Jon Heron
Is it silly to assume that if any sort of fire occurs in my set-up, that I will be present to simply TELL the firefights when they arrive that there is vegetable oil, methanol, etc. in the structure?

Yes, it would be very silly to assume anything of the sort. Even if you are present you may be incapacitated and unable to communicate or do anything anyways.

I say the same thing to those who choose to build no safety's into their setup and fool themselves into thinking that it is safe because they are always there to monitor it. This notion is completely illogical and ignorant to how things happen when they go bad. Any number of a million things could happen that can and will take your attention away from what ever it is your doing, brewing or otherwise.
There used to be a guy on here that went by the handle of RNCarl, he was brewing a batch one day and inadvertently ran his skill saw through his hand. He told the story on here about how thankful he was to have had a timer on his setup because he forgot all about the thing until he got home from the hospital many hours later...

Shat happens, be prepared and never assume that you will be present to clean up the shat after it has run through the fan. Smile


Simple schematic for a pump and heater control with a high limit
Sensor for the biodiesel/glycerin layer
April 27, 2010, 07:27 PM
john galt
Safety guidelines, safety procedures and safety equipment are all important because:
Anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the most inconvenient time in the worst location.
...and that's being optimistic.

This also explains why hobby BD makers brag they can make fuel for less than a dollar a gallon while commercial producers claim they're loosing money without the $1 per gallon tax subsidy. When you factor in the cost of making BD safely, plus insurance, building, and labor costs, then the overhead can become more expensive than the product.

April 30, 2010, 09:16 AM
He wanted to clean up the spilled gas so he grabbed his wet and dry vacuum. It's good for wet stuff, right

That's almost as funny/scary as the customer who had to tow his (gasser) Beatle in to the shop because he broke the key in the ignition switch after a "tune-up" I fixed the broken key and decided to open the rear deck to see what other wonders he performed.

He had the high voltage lead going into the fuel filter! Of course the fuel line from the pump went into the coil. Nice one, idiot. Then I thought about this for a minute, how did he get so lucky? If he hadn't broke the key, and tried to start the car, blammo! As a mechanic I couldn't have come up with a better external combustion device if I tried. Sweet. Who is this patron saint of idiots anyway?

Brian Rodgers

Home of the biodiesel drinking bears.
2005 Jeep Liberty, 2003 VW Jetta TDI
1992 Dodge Dually Cummins Peirce Arrow Dumpbed
July 31, 2011, 03:46 PM
john galt
Fire from biodiesel kit destroys Cougar Mountain home early Sunday

July 31, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 1:15 p.m. July 31, 2011

Fire roared through a Cougar Mountain home early Sunday morning after a backyard biodiesel kit started the blaze.

Just after 6 a.m. Sunday, neighbors reported flames and smoke shooting from a house in the 17000 block of Southeast 60th Street, a tree-lined neighborhood between Cougar Mountain Zoo and Cougar Ridge Elementary School.

Firefighters discovered barrels and other equipment used to manufacture biodiesel behind the home. Investigators later determined the biodiesel kit started the fire.

“The fire began in the middle of that process, outside of the home, and came into the home from there,” said Lt. Troy Donlin, a Bellevue Fire Department spokesman.

Flames roared through the ground floor and damaged the attic. The basement sustained water damage as firefighters extinguished the blaze. Donlin estimated the total damage at $400,000.

Residents in Bellevue’s Lakemont neighborhood reported the fire at the empty residence. The homeowner reached the scene later in the morning.

“It appeared as though the calls came in progression from the furthest-away neighbor, saw it through the woods — 20-foot flames and explosions — and the last caller was a neighbor across the street,” Donlin said.

Units from Eastside Fire & Rescue, and the Bellevue and Mercer Island fire departments, responded to the blaze.

"(The fire) was related to some part of the biodiesel process,".....Bellevue Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Troy Donlin said the cause of the fire is undetermined, but investigators discovered a number of 50-gallon fuel drums and equipment necessary to manufacture biofuel in the backyard near the suspected source of the fire.

April 09, 2012, 11:18 PM
john galt
Oak Grove house fire likely caused by biodiesel-processing equipment, investigators say

Published: Monday, April 09, 2012
By Rick Bella, The Oregonian

OAK GROVE -- Fire investigators say biodiesel-processing equipment likely is to blame for an Easter Sunday house fire that displaced three residents from their newly remodeled home.

Steve McAdoo, Clackamas Fire District 1 spokesman, said investigators have determined that the fire, which broke out around 1:25 a.m., started in a home biodiesel-processing plant, which converts waste cooking oil into fuel.

"This fire will go down as unintentional and accidental," McAdoo said. "There are these little biodiesel plants in garages all over the place.