I have gotten some questions from biodiesel newbies about how to make a processor and wash tank both on and off the forum. I started making bio in 2006 then stopped for several years because I sold my only diesel vehicle. Now that it is 2014 and I have had two diesel vehicles for 4 years plus a diesel generator, I will be making bio again.
The processor shown below is what I built and used starting in 2006. I sold it all in bits and pieces after I sold my truck. It worked great except for a few parts that I will discuss later (like the junk braided clear hose)
Basically I want to show from these pictures what a new biodieseler can do. The entire post that follows this sentence is pulled from a very old archive when I posted it in March 2006:
So after 3 months of designing, buying and building, here it is.
Since pictures of complete systems are so hard to find, this is for the newbies trying to get going, and what you can do with some well spent time and a little effort.
About 80 percent of the ideas for this comes from this forum, BiodieselCommunity.org, and other biodiesel forums and websites. Thank you all for the great ideas, information, and advice.
I present to you, my Rednek Bio-Fuels Processor:
This is the complete system. On the left there is a white barrel on the ground. This is where I pump or pour my oil into the system. It goes through the window screen filter to get out the chunks and crunchies and this barrel also acts as a temporary storage place until I get enough oil for a 40 gallon batch. The black metal drum in the middle is my reactor. That is where all the magic of biodiesel happens. To the right of it is my wash tank. It is the white drum sitting on the wood shelf. Finally to it's right, all the way in the back of the picture, in the corner of the garage, is my drum of methanol. I'll go into more detail in the following photos.
This is the screening/storage barrel. It's made from a 55 gallon poly drum. On the top I cut a hole the size of the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, cut a 5 gallon bucket in half and inserted it to hold my window screen filter. In a few days I will be using some of the 5 gallon bucket strainers from www.b100supply.com to filter the oil to 100 microns, but the screen works very well for now. Inside the barrel is a 36 inch piece of black iron pipe I used for a suction pickup tube and fitted it with an elbow and hose to suck the oil out and into the pump. The pickup tube has to be cut at a 45 degree angle on the bottom so it can pick the oil up. Also in the picture you can see the drain tube from the reactor 40 gallon mark going into the storage drum. The red dixie cup is the complicated device I use to scoop the gook and crunchies out of the screen when it gets clogged and pour into a trash bin.
This photo is the reactor tank, vessel, barrel or whatever else you may call it. On top you can see the two nozzles used for mixing the oil. They are 3/4 inch black pipe nipples welded in place. (notice all welds on this barrel were covered up with JB Weld just to make sure they are leak proof) The top was cut out to facilitate cleaning the barrel and bolting the thermostat in place, then it was welded back on and JB Welded for extra insurance. On the bottom of the barrel I welded a 2" barrel bung in the center for draining and recirculating the oil. There is a picture of it further down the page.
Here you can see how I determine when I have reached the 40 gallon mark on this reactor. I open the valve on the side of the tank to let oil flow to the storage tank, when I see this, the barrel has 40 gallons in it. Simple 'nuff.
Here I welded a 2" bung onto the side of this tank and reduced it to 1" for a water heater element. I'm using a 240 volt, 4500 watt element to heat the tank. It uses a 10 gauge extension cord and plugs into my 30 amp dryer receptacle. It heats the tank up to 120 degrees farenhieght in less than an hour, then the thermostat (shown below) regulates the temperature. I will be covering the barrel in 2 inch insulation to better contain the heat, but that is for another payday. If you are doing an similer setup, COVER THE EXPOSED WIRES AND METAL CONTACTS WITH LIQUID ELECTRICAL TAPE TO KEEP FROM SHOCKING YOURSELF WHEN YOU WALK BY OR YOUR KIDS ARE IN THE GARAGE AND THEY FEEL LIKE TOUCHING EVERY SHINEY THING THEY SEE!!! SPEND THE FIVE DOLLARS ON THE STUFF FROM WALLY WORLD OR LOWES AND DO IT!!!
Here is my thermostat. It's bolted to the reactor tank and set at 125 F. Notice the ground wire is attached to the barrel in case something goes loopy with the thermostat or heating element, you know, just in case.
This is the drain on the bottom of the reactor and hose going to the pump inlet tee, for recirculation, or draining the glycerin off.
Next is the wash tank. This design I copied directly from somebody on this forum, sorry if I can't remember who, but THANKS for the great design!! It is a 55 gallon poly drum flipped upside down with two drains on the bottom. One is flush with the bottom and is used for draining the glycerin or water off of the bio being washed and the other is about 10 inches high to allow the biodiesel to be drained off without picking up any of the glycerin sitting on the bottom of the tank. I have a lid on it so I can see what is going on in there, but also to somewhat contain the methanol fumes. Around the top I have 5 mist heads to fog the bio with water. You can also see the hose that comes into the top to fill the barrel. Not shown...is the air bubbler for bubble washing. I still need to pick up some wooden air "stones" for that process.
Here is the inside of the washtank showing the standpipe and flush pipe.
This shows the inlet hose into the washtank.
This is the standpipe hose going to the pump inlet tee.
Next is the Methanol in the black drum. I use a yellow plastic chemical pump from www.northerntool.com to pump it out into a 5 gallon carboy for mixing. You can also see a drain spout to the left of the methanol barrel, it is the drain for the flush drain in the wash tank.
Here is the carboy I use to mix the methoxide. It has a valve and a hose connection so I can attach it to the pump inlet and suck the methoxide straight into the reactor with no mess or spills. Good chemical gloves and non-vented goggles are a must when mixing methanol and lye. For the good of your eyes and skin, wear them.
My trash pump. It is a 5.5 horsepower, 2" model. I got this off Ebay for 185.00 shipped to my door, brand spankin' new. I've found some great deals on there but none like this. This unit new at Northern Tool is 726.00.
Keep scrolling down to see several more pictures, if you have any questions please post 'em!!
I want to comment on some of the items in my first processor above. First the clear braided lines just don't hold up. I don't have to see fluid flowing in my processor to know that it is working. That being said, my next processor will have all soft lines made from the Goodyear Flexwing VersaFuel 1" ID hose. It is entirely biodiesel proof inside and out, can handle up to 150 psi and a full 29" of vacuum without crushing. It is also VERY flexible even in sub zero weather when I pick up oil from restaurants.
I no longer use the trash pump. It is noisy and very cumbersome for one person to handle when picking up oil. I mention the "deal" I got on eBay above. Well, that pump is junk. If you want to use the trash pump method, get a good Honda or another brand. Don't be afraid to spend money of stuff that lasts. Cheap junk will cost you more in the end. It always does for me.
My new oil collection pump is one that I made from a Chevrolet oil pump and an electric motor. This idea came from a guy on YouTube who has had great success with it. I will post pics or a YouTube video next time I pick up oil to show how well it works.
The new reactor and wash tanks that I am building will all have cone bottoms. They can be bought from UtahBiodieselSupply.com for a reasonable price. I don't like the flat bottom of my old setup.
I am not a huge fan of the standpipe setup on the poly wash tank. I know it works for some, but a cone bottom tank functions just so much better that I will no longer be using the standpipes at all.
Another bad move with the wash tank is the cheap plant misters on the top. The hose that connects to all of them falls apart just being near biodiesel. So do the misters. This go round I am using all metal fogging nozzles from Mcmaster.com.
I was using the very familiar clear water pump and overall I was happy with it, despite being cheap and Chinese. Above you can see that I necked down my input and output at the pump from 1" to 3/4". I would rather spend the few extra bucks and have the flow of the 1" lines. So I will leave everything 1" on my next one.
I will post pictures of my new processor once it is complete!
That's a good 5 gal bucket plug for the poly barrels. It would be a better sealing 'access hatch' for the wash barrel.
For better mixing consider re-positioning the pump so 1" lines from the pump to the bottom and top of the reactor have the fewest fittings especially 90° els. Other lines could be 3/4". Pumps push better than they pull so keep the suction line from the reactor as short and straight as possible.
Putting the five gallon bucket in the wash tank top would certainly work better. Especially one with a screw on lid.
Since you bring up pumps...
I did a little more digging and I thought that a good centrifugal pump for the processor was way out of reach financially but then I found the Murphys Machines site. They are selling GREAT pumps for a price I couldn't refuse. I will be using a Murphy pump in the new processor I am building. I agree with the input and output you mention.
damn right. my murphy pump is a beast! brings a smile to my face every time it empties a drum in a minute.
for processor, can't beat an electric hot water tank upside down, injecting into bottom: cheap, insulated, pressure vessel, round bottom, thermostat, element, fantastic mixing. everything you need really. only downside is a lack of ports on the top (bottom).
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