I am trialling a fume-free processor, which is looking promising.
Eliminates fumes in work area when adding methoxide, when draining glycerol and when distilling methanol.
Wastes less methanol to air and wash water than conventional processors.
All simple to make, nothing complex.
I'm using English components, but I hope someone will come up with USA equivalents.
Plans coming soon ...
Here they are... - Added 28 Feb 2007 - GLThis message has been edited. Last edited by: GrahamLaming,
Going back to the original post . . . .
I had a pretty good headache from just a few minutes of exposure at these levels. Some Baileys and Beer cleared it right up (not together).
I've been meaning to bring this up for a while, but keep forgetting (that damn methanol vapour is damaging my brain!) apparently the standard antidote to methanol ingestion is, you guessed it, ethanol ingestion!! This works by preventing the conversion of methanol into formaldehyde in the body.
Did you have this in mind when you went drinking, cfunderburg? Appologies if this is common knowledge everyone.
hello I've been cleaning railcars for a living for the last 10 yrs. I clean veg oils, corn oils, tallow, ect. which involves heating to melting point I am just mentioning that here because I use an air monitor and as the oil gets hotter the carbon monoxide goes way into the danger zone very quickly, also
thanks spalding for giving me a valid excuse for keeping a six pack and some spirits in the bio shed incase of emergency
I'm new to this forum, but doesn’t using a condenser to recover the methanol also condense the water that could be in the BD. Is water soluble in Methanol?
There are ways to keep water out of your methanol.
Don't use the 5% prewash (or any water addition situation) unless you have a thermostat on the heater you use for recovery. Keep it set to below 150F. This will allow the methanol to evaporate but not the water. Methanol evaporates at a lower temperature than water.
If you don't add water you can set your thermostat higher and recover methanol faster.
When you make biodiesel you need to start with dry oil to make quality fuel. Therefore, your finished biodiesel or glycerine byproduct will not contain water unless you add it.
That said, there are many opportunities to add water after the fuel is made, namely the washing stage.
Recover your methanol before water is added and you'll be fine.
Good luck and have fun with biodiesel. You'll find lots of friendly folks who'd love to help you on your path to cheap fuel. Just ask.
walk softly, leave a small footprint and a big impression
Get you processor out of the shed and locate it out side that way you wont have this problem and wont kill yourself or even worse some one else
I have finished step 1 in my processor setup.
Now I am making 150 l in every batch. I use a 55 gal barrel with a removable lid, upside down.
When I finish processing, after draining glycerine,I heat BD to 75ºc for one hour, while recirculating, to eliminate as much methanol as I can. I leave an open valve all the time out of my shed so methanol flies away (I will install a condenser in step 2, next summer).
Then i move all the BD into an open lid barrel, recirculating once and again so the stream of BD hits the opposite inner wall of the barrel, and a fan attached to the ceiling blowing all the time. (GL´S 1 day process)
While doing this, there is a strong smell of alcohol in the air. Although there is good ventilation, I would swear tht methanol concentration in the air is very high. If I enter the shed at that time, It is only for micro-moments, to see if everything is running ok and I hold my breath all the time.
The question is :
Do you know any way to drive fumes out without installing a fumes extractor (I spent too much in the processor and don´t want to increase my account´s black hole) . Maybe a big sleeve attached to the upper part of the barrel and the other to the window ? Made of what material ? Any ideas ?
Sorry for my english, hope this is feasible to understand.
I haven't checked your other posts but you must have been reading the forums a lot in a year and a half.
I would strongly encourage you to set up to recover the excess methanol. It can save money as well as your life.
I know OSHA doesn't apply to you, but their exposure limit of 200ppm is a good one to follow. And if you can smell any methanol you have gone way past that exposure limit.
You say the methanol concentration in the air of your shed is very high. It could get to explosive levels easily. And any spark can set it off. Fan motor, light switch, static electricity, metal hitting stone. Methanol fumes are heavier than air.
Please be safe.
Your English is a thousand times better than my Spanish.
Thanks for your message, I will try to build a condenser in a short time. Building the processor took all my energy -and budget-, but you are completely right.
New to bio...but been a SCUBA diver for 40 years. Do not use a regular compressor to concentrate air for breathing. The oil in the compressor and/or lines is a serious contaminate. A better solution is a fresh air sytem like painters use in a paint booth.
It's a known danger to stuff with methanol since I first started making Bio I have allways recovered the methanol through a condencer,but a condencer on its own is not good enough I recover under vacunm, allways have,and have still had fumes envelop the work shop.
I experimented with several devices to limit and eventually totally eliminate these dangerously explocive fumes.
For safety sake if a condencer is used you must have a vapor trap on the discharge end of the condencer, its simply a U tube you can fill with methanol that ensures any un condenced fumes bubble through a liquid before entering the recovery vessel, like the trap under your sink stops sewer gas entering your house.
Second and by far the most important regardless if distillation is done under vacuunm or just forced out by the heating process Atmospheric distilation, is a water scrubber with a non return valve to the inlet side of the scrubber, it to is a simple device, simply a sealed can with two pipes entering the top the outlet is welded to the top and just protrudes in to the can and the inlet goes through the top to just off the bottom of the can also welded to the top, a drain valve is fitted to the bottom the can is half filled with water so any fumes that might get past the sealed recovery vessel end up mixing in the water, the non return valve becomes a safety explosion valve or back fire block,it also stops water getting back to the recovery vessel this has to be made of a steel pipe and should not be smaller than 75 mm in diameter and 300mm long the inlet and outlet pipes 15mm dia or smaller if recovering under vacuunm, for a 300l vessel you make it out of whatever you can scrounge but no smaller it can be as big as you like
and finally all this NEEDS TO BE GROUNDED OR EARTHED,the outlet of the scrubber can be set high above your roof if you are using vacuunm or not with a 180deg bend at the top of the pipe.
Dealng with water comming off along with the methanol it will happen you can't completly stop it, it depends on the shape of the top of your reactor where the outlet to the condencer is, its a science all on it's own a domed top
with the outlet off to the side is mostly used for solvent recovery using a condenser the water stays behind depending on the heat settings on a column it's usually at the top of the vessel where water is pulled in it's appropriat stage.
The cooling water temprature is also important
and needs to be monitered, huge losses can occur if it gets to warm, if my cooling water gets above 28c I can forget recovery I will lose most of it without a vapor trap the scrubber will fill up with methanol and be lost
unless I do a recovery on it,it also ends up in the vac pump and can destroy it or creat another dangerous situation of pumping raw methanol out.
Safety is paramount, If you spend time and some of the money you will save on fuel for twelve months in advance on setting your reactor up or on improving recovery in most cases it becomes a safer and more echonimical proposition and far more interesting.
Bio_reactor-6.jpg (580 Kb, 74 downloads)
It sounds like there are some processes that would be well done OUTSIDE.
All flammable gasses have an "LEL" (Lower Explosive Limit) and "UEL" (upper explosive limit).
According to several notes on the Internet, the LEL (below which the gas is too dilute to explode) is 6% (60,000 PPM).
And the UEL (above which there is too little oxygen to explode) is 36%, or 360,000 PPM.
So, if the gas detector was a good representative sample, it may not have been in the explosive area, but it was shaving it a bit close.
Of course, the alternative would be to crank it up to... say 500,000 PPM, and it would be perfectly safe to weld, or do anything in there (except breathe).
I use LEL meters in my employment as a maintenance fitter ours have a audiable alarm should the levels increase even slightly, The problem with these is they only read for about a meter and a half away you have to keep them moving around where you are working they can not detect corners or pockets of higher concentration of explocive gases unless you actually put them close enough we use up to six of these meters on the one job.
I have one on my belt all the time.
You would be extremely foolish to think you are safe with one of these things near you they fail to detect levels of poisionous vapors and gasses like methanol at lower than explocive limits,just because they wont blow up dose not mean they won't kill you just the same.
They are a tool that should only be used in well ventilated and decontaminated areas.
What so far has been put foreward regarding LEL meters is dangerously misleading they are not to be used as an indicator for what you already know or suspect they are a tool to be used in conjunction with specafied procediours in circumstances that could become dangerous not suspected areas of contamination or for testing your batch for methanol.
We follow one rule regardless of meters, If you can smell it feel it or taste it in the air get the hell out of there,dont think you are safe just because the alarm or reading say it's ok.
Would it not be far wiser to spend the money you would pay for a meter and gas mask to improve your process? buying one of these meters is not going to make your process any safer using a gas mask knowing your levels are high is admitting you are a fool.
I can just picture a Joker in the back shed mixing his methanol and lie in an open top drum using an electric drill with a LEL meter on the ground because the fumes are heavier than air wearing a gas mask thinking he is Mr, Safety.
what kind of detector is it??
Mosaic Biodiesel Enterprise is committed to powering the globe with earth and people friendly biodiesel...one gallon at a time.
You asked what type of detector is it, more to the point of what's it for, it's a device that is used as an alarm of lower levels of explocive gases or vapors, that is the ones that are not obvious to your sences,smell, feel,
skin sencitivy etc, NOT FOR THE OBVIOUS SMELL YOU CAN NORMALLY DETECT WITH YOUR NOSE.
In chemical plants operators can become decencitised to dangerous levels of explocive and poisonious gasses,that's where these meters come in to play, or where maintenance has to be carried out, you don't go in to areas where the obvious dangers might exist thinking these meters will protect you, they simply won't.
Methanol is an accumilative poison, even if the meter says it's safe dose not mean it is, if you are smelling methonol even faintly you are taking it in and it will eventually lead to problems with your health if you continue to expose yourself to the fumes.
I would like to know how a back yard operator could afford to purchace a reputable LEL meter let alone pay to have it maintained, these meters cost our company about $1500 each pa to keep them legally certafied, and they do fail regularly and need calibrating every three months if used or not.
I feel this subject is important and that people are not mis lead in to a FALSE sence of security by using an LEL meter.
Those that do use them for monitering their levels of explocive gasses in back yard opreations are in the same boat as the IDIOTS that mix their test batches in a blender and use electric drills in open top vessels to blend in their methodoxide in to their batches without even the most basic form of safety of grounding, even on plastic containers, face shields, aprons, and gloves burn, gas masks offer little protection if you are on fire or an explosion happens.
Spend your money on setting up properly, the money you save on fuel will quickly recover your out lay making your processor safe and as in my case virtually no manual handeling or physical contact with chemicals or oil, it's a breese and very user friendly.
From what I have seen so far most are making cheap fuel in a cheap manner, exposing themselves their property and neighbours to an unexceptable risk, you will get away with it but the odds are against you then you will see what cheap means.
ferraloil, how do you make your biodiesel? I am very interested in how you completely eliminate any methanol vapors in your work area.
The original point of this post was to alert people to the extremely high levels of methanol vapor when actively forcing evaporation.
I, along with anyone else with half a brain, no longer do it this way. I use a plumbers delight condenser (thanks Graham!) to remove a substantially large portion of the leftover methanol in the BD before transfering it to my dry was tank. After condensing the majority of the methanol, the levels of methanol in my shed (which has just a box fan for ventilation) are well below the LEL, but above the safe level for breathing.
I generally will hold my breath while taking readings in there. The danger levels persist for a few hours, but I only transfer to my dry wash tank late at night and vapors escape from the shed at a pretty good rate. They mix with the surrounding air (A slight breeze is all that is needed) and are diffused to the point of non-existance fast.
I use my gas detector to determine the vapor levels for a given space at a given time and to track the rate of dispersal. It's also a good indicator of when all of the methanol has been removed from the biodiesel by evaporation.
At under 300 ppm when filling my methoxide tank for under 5 minutes, I am confident that I am not exposing myself to undue amounts of methenol vapor.
The exposure for draining the glycerine is only slightly higher than when I pump pure methanol (probably because of the higher temp of the glycerine/methanol mix), but I keep a fan to my back and only spend about 5 minutes on the draining procedure.
I've made it somewhat of a policy to have a beer or two after doing any biodiesel related activities that involve methanol exposure (I probably would have the beers w/o the methanol exposure anyway ).
All in all, I think ferraloil needs to get off of his high horse and rethink this a bit. I'm not exposing myself to methanol vapors on a daily basis, maybe once a week and that is always at or near the OSHA guidlines.
The detector is simply a tool to help determine the level of exposure more accurately. Knowing that I was probalbly in LEL helped me make a vitaly important decision to get my condensor attached asap.
Would you be interested in buying a large (12") extractor fan, for your safety? £30, and this one was £150 new. Please to help!
If you can smell fryin' then diesel I won't be buyin'!
So am I, sounds good.
BOX FAN!? Excellant source of ignition if there is ever a blip in concentration.
200ppm is the upper limit of safe exposure. Don't remember the safe time duration for lower exposures. The human nose can't detect methanol until it reaches 600ppm so if you can smell any you are already way over exposed.
By near I assume you mean past the guidelines. Ever see someone stop near a railroad crossing, instead of before, when a train is coming? Not Pretty. Especially when others are in the car and can't control what is happening. If you don't care about your own safety think of others that may not have a clue to the dangers they could be encountering.
FerralOil stay on that horse. It looks like a white one from here. A lot of good data. Thanks
Now everyone over to Mike's for a cold one.
Unless you are recovering your methanol the glycerin going into your compost can be as high as 50%methanol or even higher. This methanol is going to evoporate, on a small scale this may not seem like much methaonl being released but I would be intrested to hear estimates of the combined release of home brewers. I have a feeling that there is quite abit of methanol maiking it into our atmosphere.
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