I realize that a number of you folks are self reliant individuals that take responsibility for their own actions, so I hope you can cut me a bit of slack and not get too angry about this post.
I worked in EOD for a long time and have seen people blown up and burned to death. Safety is just part of my life and I make no apologies. I will leave it to you more self reliant people to be unsafe.
I have done more research. This web site has a number of stories about fires and explosions caused by turning the heater on when it is not covered. In fact, considering everything I have read on this site, this seems to be the number one cause of fires and explosions when making biodiesel at home.
The UK biodiesel website says "MOST COMMON ACCIDENT: Biodiesel processor blows up due to immersion heater being accidently turned on when empty. REMEDY: Do not build/buy a processor with an immersion heater installed in it. Always heat the vegetable oil in a separate vessel that never has methanol in it."
When I read the safety section of the site that RickDaTech linked to there is no mention of this problem.
I wonder why he has omitted mentioning this as one of the most common causes of fires and explosions.
If you read some of Murphy's posts, he discusses a "float valve". (he always gets excited about free product plugs).
The idea is for a classic appleseed processor, locking it out so that the burner will not turn on without being covered with oil.
I suppose that brings up a point mentioned somewhere... perhaps in the Dr. Pepper articles that one method of making biodiesel is to heat up the the oil (and dewater if necessary). Then as it cools & drops below the BP of methanol, add the methanol, and mix and let it slowly cool in an insulated vessel.
Of course there is always the potential need to reheat a second time, or perhaps heating as part of distilling.
I don't mention it in the safety section for two reasons.
First it is a design specific issue and IS mentioned in the specific designs presented that use immersion heaters.
Second, I disagree that it is the most common causes of fires and explosions. I don't know if it's the site you are referencing, but, the only UK site I am aware of that uses that line of reasoning, uses it as a marketing pitch to sell biodiesel processing equipment.
In my opinion (and the opinion of many well informed fire dept. fire investigators) the most common cause of biodiesel production related fires is spontaneous combustion of oil/biodiesel soaked rags.
In my opinion, the most common cause of explosions comes from 1) welding on used processing equipment, and 2) using a cheap Chinese drill and paint stirrer to mix methoxide and/or biodiesel.
Boozer, Every single page of http://make-biodiesel.org/ has a prominent notice on it, warning of the inherent dangers of making biodiesel. Are you trying to imply that http://make-biodiesel.org/ does not cover the dangers inherent in making biodiesel to your satisfaction?
An Electric drill with a paint stirrer is also a design specific issues yet you list them in your safety section.
That makes you the odd man out. If you look through this forum you will see that it is by far the single most reported cause of accidents.
Hi Mike Peltier,
I agree, this latest batch of gurus do not seem to place safety very highly.
Why do you think that? Tilly would not be the only one who recognizes bad advice would he.
It is NOT design specific as used by those that blew themselves up. It They opened up either a processor or methoxide mixing tank and stuck the paint stirrer in. Usually, it was in addition to the equipments designed mixing system.
Really? The reports of spontaneous combustion are much more common than fires caused by immersion elements. I can't help it if you are unwilling to see it or admit it. Just because some jerk re-posts and regurgitates the same few reports of one type of accident, does not make it the most common. It does make the old jerk look like he has a few screws loose, or as you put it, 'the ODD man out'.
It would be interesting to see actual stats...
I'd guess a large number of the fires involve leaving a processor "doing stuff" unattended. Heating, pumping, whatever. And/Or not having a good fire extinguisher handy and an emergency plan.
I've seen a few reports of people who bought a cheap pump. Knew it was faulty, and used it anyway.
Those who monitored their system just had to clean their pants...
Those who didn't monitor their system got to see those fancy red trucks with flashing lights and had a bigger mess to clean up.
like you I've seen three or four reports of faulty equipment causing problems. There are three or four dozen reports of spontaneous combustion. When I talk to fire dept investigators, the fires that have fancy red trucks are most often marked up to spontaneous combustion. Overloaded or faulty wiring systems run a close second.
I think Mike Peltier has the perfect solution.
Anytime someone asks questions that get a bit sticky just accuse them of being Tilly and hope the moderators ban them from the forum and delete what they have said.
However, to be fair, no matter how insignificant and sticky the discussion is, this is the Safety forum and the place to bring these concerns to peoples attention.
Speaking of Infestations, I noticed that you have just edited and deleted a number of posts you made about a year ago Here using your real name. I wonder how many other Mike Peltier/john Galt infestations there have been. How many times was a "Tilly Sock Puppet" really a "Mike Peltier/John Galt Sock Puppet"
No one needs to accuse anyone of being Tilly. Tilly was banned because of his unique posting style. My assumption and hope is that what was really banned was the 'Tilly posting style' rather than Tilly himself. I have noticed that whenever a newbie starts to use the 'Tilly posting style', whether he be Tilly or not, he is not usually around long. Thanks Moderators!
That is interesting.
So you do not agree with Mike Peltier/john Galt that Rupert is a Tilly Clone that the moderators need to quickly deal with.
Do you think that Rupert's Posting style requires moderator intervention and that he needs to join the league of the Disappeared that you say exists?
If you asked me, Mike Peltier/john Galt is the only one being rude and maybe needs to be pulled into line. But certainly not disappeared.
I believe this was posted under "Safety"...
It would be helpful to keep discussions centered processing design flaws, improvements, and the like rather than chasing phantoms.
I'm not sure how many serious biodiesel related fires there have been nationwide (or globally). Obviously a few scattered instances. Some caused directly from biodiesel processing activities, and some originating elsewhere and spreading to biofuel storage.
Unfortunately anecdotes get the attention of politicians when we really need hard research and statistical evidence.
There are certainly "basic" safety considerations, but we don't have the evidence collected to determine whether it is worth spending thousands of dollars to make a "SAFE" processor.
For example... do we even have any evidence that biodiesel production and storage is more dangerous than Christmas Trees?
Reports indicate that the US averages 200-250 home fires and up to a dozen or so deaths EVERY YEAR.
More lives could be saved by banning Christmas than banning Biodiesel Production.
I tried to look up deaths/fatalities related to biodiesel production.
I was unable to find any reports of fatalities based on home biodiesel production, although I did find a note about a serious traffic accident caused by a WVO fuel system failure.
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?p=3066277 (post #40).
There have been a few fatalities at commercial biodiesel plants. Some due to poor training including entering a confined space without proper safety precautions.
In fact, I'd venture to guess that there are more home-brewers across the USA than employees at commercial biodiesel plants. And, thus with no fatalities at home-brew facilities, but a few at commercial plants, the home-brew community isn't doing all that bad. But that could all change in a heartbeat.
For example, if a large Southern California Wildfire was to be caused by home-brew biodiesel, it could virtually shut down the industry overnight.
I didn't say that. I said there was no need to call any poster 'Tilly'
Your right keelec, this section is for safety discussions. Keep digging. For instance there is a site somewhere that gives the break down of causes for home fires, and more. Something like half of all home fires are kitchen grease fires caused by overheating grease. And, the kitchen grease fires cost the least to repair as someone is usually there when it starts.
I wouldn't be surprised about grease fires... at least in some communities. I had a neighbor that got a new "free kitchen". Fortunately most kitchen grease fires are attended at the time of occurrence which is probably why they often are limited to the kitchen area (thank god burning the bottom out of a teapot doesn't count).
I did read somewhere that the majority of fatal home fires were related to alcohol and cigarettes, or a combination of the two (obviously stuff you want to keep separate from BD processing). Except, of course, what was noted somewhere that ethanol is the typical antidote for methanol poisoning.
Anyway, processor safety should never be ignored. But, there are many greater hazards to a person's health. And, even though there are relatively few people doing home biodiesel processing, the total number of fires are a small fraction of the fires that occur due to other causes nationwide.
Overall, many people using biodiesel (or SVO/WVO) are choosing to do so because they believe it is a safer/healthier alternative for the planet.
I agree. It's really more of an issue with general lifestyle awareness of safety and attention to potentially hazardous details, rather than biodiesel specific problems. A lot of hobbies are not a good idea for inattentive dummies, biodiesel is one of them. Those few individuals who get obsessed over possible hazards of specific reactor designs are usually just using that as an excuse to further other agendas.
how many actually test their safety systems?
I hope we all think about and plan for accidents. They happen.
be sure I've had my share or oops...
left the water on and over flowed the wash tank..lost the BD in the process..
left the heater on with nothing in the tank..thankfully nothing happened..the PID just held the temp at the set temp..below the ignition point of methanol.
it would seem the not heating the oil reactor is the best solution, but is it??
so lets heat the oil outside the reactor..sounds like a safe way.. but we have to store out methanol/methanol/caustic tank above oil heating tank.. a lite breeze blows the methanol vapors out of our methanol tank and they land in our empty oil tank where we just turn the heater on..oops BANG!
so maybe this isn't so safe..did this happen..could it happen? doesn't matter..just make heating the oil even in a separate tank not so safe.
so test your safety features under safe conditions..fill the tank with nitrogen or CO2..then check.
interesting if this is a Tilly clone or Tilly..WHY NO SAFETY TESTING?? NO SETUP IS PERFECT!! in all the years that I have been on this board..very little has been said about safety testing??
is your setup safe?
'84 bluebird school bus, DD8.2L turbo( 4/2011, the bus tranny has died.. 8.23.11 bus driven to scrap yard )
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD - the wife's
99 dodge 2500 5.9l 24v..-mine
everything run B100 when its warm enough
We could all run operations like BP...
Having really expensive safety equipment, but never testing whether it was actually operational in the environment which it was being used (1 mile below sea level with tremendous pressures). And having an Emergency Response plan that had never been practiced.
Some checks could be part of normal operations. Like a selenoid on a float valve. It should be possible to verify that it is "open" when the tank is empty, and closed when the tank is full. Timers & thermostats would also be used in course of normal operations.
The problem is with things like pressure safety valves that never get used in the course of normal operations. I suppose they could be tested with air pressure.
And, of course, never trying to stress the system to look for failure points.
It is absolutely a good idea to check your safety equipment. However, some design specific safety issues won't show up until too late for most of the DIY processors. There is too much variation between designs for anyone to second guess all the safety issues. For example pre heating oil before the reactor can be just as dangerous as heating it in the reactor. I've got reports of at least two fires that were caused by heating oil above it's smoke point. I'm sure there were many more.
It is probably safest to stick with popular designs that have known flaws. That way the known flaws can be resolved with some DIY ingenuity. A new or little used design will not have the history needed to identify the safety issues.
Safety is more about attitude than variations in equipment design. There's a common myth that technology will make us safe. We live in a society where personal responsibility is rapidly vanishing. It's always easier to blame something else.
Every year auto manufacturers make vehicles 'safer' yet vehicle injuries and fatalities continue to increase. Most are not caused by failure of safety equipment but rather by driver inattention/distraction, drugs, alcohol, speeding, failure to wear seatbelts, etc.
Biodiesel equipment is no different.
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