Are there any modifications required in my diesel vehicle to use my biodiesel?
In most cases you can start using biodiesel immediately without any modification. The only exception is older (pre-1985 diesels) may have natural rubber fuel lines which are susceptible to slow degradation with biodiesel. Just replace these with current synthetic fuel lines, and you're done. We also recommend that you replace your fuel filter after your first tank of biodiesel, since biodiesel is a very good solvent and will scrub out all the tars, varnishes, and gums left by fossil diesel in your fuel system.
Can I use my biodiesel for other diesel fueled devices, such as home heating oil furnaces?
Biodiesel can be safely used in ANY device which can use #2 diesel fuel or home heating oil, including cars, trucks, tractors, generators, pumps, heaters and home furnaces.
Can I mix my biodiesel with regular petroleum diesel?
You can mix biodiesel in ANY ratio, back and forth, with no problems.
How safe is biodiesel to handle? What about spills?
Biodiesel is non-toxic, fully biodegradable, and safer to store than petro-diesel.
How long can I store biodiesel?
Biodiesel can be stored for years provided that it is kept free of condensation and bacteriological growths (just add a common diesel biocide).
How can I verify that the biodiesel I make is safe enough to use in my diesel engine?
First, the biodiesel/glycerin should have a very clean and distinct separation without a third layer. Second, doing a simple "mixability" test of your biodiesel with an equal amount of water in a jar to see how fast the biodiesel separates from the water will give a very sensitive indication of how pure it is.
Will my biodiesel void my diesel engine's warranty?
Most major diesel vehicle manufacturers have already acknowledged that biodiesel will NOT void your warranty. Check with your dealer or diesel mechanic for further details. Companies such as Cummins, Caterpillar, and John Deere have extensively tested biodiesel and are strong supporters.
Am I responsible to pay fuel tax? If so, how much and how do I pay it?
How does biodiesel emissions compare to petroleum diesel or gasoline?
The following table uses petroleum diesel as a baseline for comparison:
Sources of Used Vegetable Oil
How can I tell whether the oil I plan to use is suitable for making biodiesel?
The two most important factors are water content and Free-Fatty Acids (FFA) from animal fats or over-use of oil. Water content can be checked by simply boiling a sample of oil in a frying pan and looking for bubbles from the evaporating water (bad oil: either don't use or dry thoroughly). FFA content can be checked first by simply asking what's been cooked in the oil, then doing a simple pH test to see how heavily used it is.
Is there a heirarchy of preference for used vegetable oil?
Yes, oil which has been used to cook: 1) only vegetables (fries, tempura, etc.); 2) fish; 3) chicken; 4) beef and pork. For the best quality biodiesel, avoid oils mixed with lard, tallow, grill scrapings, or any other waste animal fat.
Why does each batch require a different amount of chemicals (titration)?
Different oils will have a different amount of Free Fatty Acids (FFAs) in them (based on how extensively they're used). These acids must be neutralized, and additional catalyst must be added to make the biodiesel reaction happen. It's an easy test, but a very important one to get the best results.
How much will I have to pay for used cooking oil?
In most cases a restaurant will be happy to simply give you their used oil, since they would otherwise have to pay to dispose of it.
What happens when all the free used oil is gobbled up by others?
There are over 3 BILLION gallons of used cooking oil produced EVERY YEAR in the US alone. It is best to establish a good working relationship with the restaurant(s) you are collecting from. After a good relationship has been established, you may want to draw up a simple, long-term collection contract with the restaurant owner/manager.
What to do with by-products
Is there a simple way to purify the raw glycerine to the point where it becomes marketable?
Not really. You have to raise the temperature VERY high, and perform special processes to get market-grade glycerin.
How do I get rid of all the glycerin I'll be accumulating from making biodiesel?
You have several choices: 1) evaporate the methanol and compost the rest; 2) recover the methanol and compost the rest; 3) recover the methanol and purify the glycerin, then compost the rest; 4) use it as a shop cleaner and degreaser.
Is there a simple way to recover some of the methanol used in the process?
You can use a pressure-cooker with a condenser to collect boiled methanol. Recovery is about 20% of what you used in your last batch of biodiesel.
What can go wrong in making biodiesel?
The most common mistake is having excessive water in the oil. If there is water in the oil you will make soap instead of fuel. When the oil is heated to 120F any water will go to the bottom of the oil. The best techniques to avoid water in the oil is to avoid pumping water into your pre-heater drum, then to be aware that any water will go to the bottom and avoid pumping it into the FuelMeister II. With a little bit of awareness, making soap can be easily avoided.
How can I fix a problem batch?
Diagnosing a problem batch is fairly simple, but recovering the batch may be difficult. Please refer to the FuelMeister™ Instruction Manual for more details.
How can I prevent problem batches in the future?
It's easy to get consistently good results by following the methods and procedures in the FuelMeister™ Instruction Manual.
Why does the FuelMeister II use "drop" washing rather than mist or bubble washing method?
"Drop" washing with the included Water Wash Lid is faster (2 gallons per minute) than mist washing (approx. 5 gallons per hour) or bubble washing. There is also no chance of excessive agitation and emulsion forming as there can be with mist or bubble washing.
Will I have to touch any chemicals or be exposed to nasty fumes?
The FuelMeister™ is a closed system, meaning that you do not have to touch or pour any liquid chemicals. Even the methoxide fumes are filtered out when pre-mixing your catalyst. WE ALWAYS STRESS THE USE OF PROPER PROCEDURES AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT BY RESPONSIBLE OPERATORS WHENEVER MAKING BIODIESEL. In fact, we provide the necessary safety equipment with your FuelMeister kit.
Can I make partial batches?
The FuelMeister II is designed and set up to make either full (40 gallon) or half-batches (20 gallon) for your convenience.
Do I always have to wash my biodiesel, and how much?
It depends. Some biodiesel producers have been using unwashed biodiesel for years without apparent problems. Others believe that only ASTM quality biodiesel should be used in your applications. It has recently been reported that highly-washed biodiesel can attract microbial growths (algae) which can foul fuel systems. A pH which is slightly higher (basic) than pure water will suppress most microbial growth. Therefore, we recommend you wash your biodiesel until the wash water is no longer solid milk-white but only murky white. The pH should be approximately 8.0 which is indicates quite clean biodiesel while remaining a poor medium for algae growth.
What size processor do I need?
It's based on supply and storage logistics. Our processor assumes you're working with 1 barrel of oil and 1 barrel for biodiesel storage/delivery.
How much space will the whole setup take?
The FuelMeister II processor has a 30" x 30" footprint. The FuelMeister II Dual will need an additional 30" x 30" space. You will also need room for three 55 gallon drums, 1 for methanol, 1 Oil Pre-Heater drum, and 1 Fuel Drying drum (highly recommended). You can fit everything in a 80" x 80" square space (slightly more for the Dual) so it will easily fit in the corner of your shop, shed, garage or barn.
Where should I place my processor?
Find a sheltered, secure, and well-ventilated spot out of the flow of traffic.
Wouldn't it be cheaper for me to just make my own processor?
Some people choose to build their own processor, but find it takes a LOT more time and effort than they expected. Ask yourself this question: Would you prefer to invest your time in building a processor, or making biodiesel? Safety is paramount when making biodiesel. The FuelMeister II is a closed, fumeless system with no pouring or hand mixing of any liquids. Ease of use, hands-on time and total reaction time are also important. The FuelMeister II has only 3 valves, 1 switch and 1 methanol pump to operate. It requires minimal hands-on time and total time to make a batch. Wouldn't you rather have a safe, proven, patent pending system with full support and free training (workshops) available? Spend your time collecting oil and making fuel instead of having headaches and searching for plans and parts.
How long will it take to recoup my investment in a FuelMeister processor?
Your immediate savings per gallon will be approximately $2.75 $3.75 (typical petroleum diesel cost) minus the $0.50 - $0.90 cost to make your own biodiesel. When multiplied by your monthly consumption, you will know how many weeks or months it takes to recoup your investment in a FuelMeister II or FuelMeister II Dual biodiesel processor. If you are collecting used fryer oil from 6 restaurants and each one averages a 55 gallon drum of oil per month, you can make 330 gallons of fuel per month, 3960 per year. If you save $2.00 per gallon you will save $7920 per year. Think about your friends, neighbors, relatives and other diesel users that you know. They will probably be very interested in how you’ve cut your diesel and/or fuel oil costs and may want to participate with you in making biodiesel. Often you can “co-op” together with others to purchase your FuelMeister II, collect the oil, purchase the methanol and lye, and do the actual processing.
What should I do during cold weather?
Pure biodiesel (B100) will gel in cold weather. When the temperature is above freezing, 32 F, you can generally run B100. When the temperature drops below freezing, you should do one or more of the following: use Technol biodiesel flow improver; physically warm the fuel using tank, fuel line and/or filter heaters, or park your vehicle in a warm place at night; blend with # 1 and/or #2 petro-diesel. Generally, a blend of 50/50 biodiesel and # 1 petro-diesel will flow down to 0 F. A blend of 50/50 biodiesel and # 2 petro-diesel with the correct anti-gel will also flow down to 0 F.
Several factors can have an influence on the cloud, cold filter plugging point (CFPP) and gel point of your biodiesel, as well as the flow in your vehicle. These factors include: saturation level and type of the veggie oil the biodiesel was made from, whether anti-gel was added to the biodiesel and/or the petro-diesel mix, size of fuel lines, amount of warm fuel returned by your vehicle to the fuel tank, size and placement of fuel filter on your vehicle, whether your vehicle has a fuel pre-heater, etc.
It is better to be safe than sorry concerning gelling and use extra petro-diesel in the blend. A B20 blend will generally gel at a very similar rate as the petro-diesel it is blended with, including any anti-gel agent.
Many people "winterize" their biodiesel by placing a drum of it outside during cold temperatures and then drawing off the top of the drum. The lighter weight "winter" biodiesel will be on the top while the heavier "summer" biodiesel goes to the bottom of the drum.
We recommend, use and sell Schaeffer's Winterized Diesel Treat 2000, product #137ULSW. I typically mix 50% petrol diesel with 50% biodiesel along with 1 part per 750 of 137ULSW for winter use. We also recommend Artic Fox brand products if you decide to heat your vehicle's fuel system. Please call or email if you have more questions concerning cold weather use and visit the ORDER FORM page to see the price of Schaeffer's Winterized Diesel Treat 2000, product #137ULSW. Go to http://www.schaefferoil.com to learn more.
How much will the supplies cost and where can I get them?
Used liquid cooking oil is widely available for little or no cost from your local restaurants. Some of our customers also buy vegetable oil in large quantities directly from makers of new oil or produce their own oil using oil seed crops. Azure Biodiesel Company now sells oil expeller presses. Call or email for an info packet. You want oil that is liquid at room temperature when new. Racing methanol is around $3.00 - $4.25 per gallon, but you only need 6 to 8 gallons to make 40 gallons of biodiesel. Lye is about $3/lb. at the hardware or grocery store, but closer to $1.50/lb. in 50lb. bulk bags. You need about 1.5 2.5 lbs/40 gal. Methanol can be purchased from chemical supply companies, racing suppliers, bulk oil suppliers and even farmer’s co-ops. Lye is commonly known as caustic soda or Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) and can be purchased as Red Devil Lye or in bulk bags from chemical supply companies. Use beaded, pearl or granular, avoid liquid and flakes. You can also use Potassium Hydroxide (KOH), which usually comes in flakes. Azure Biodiesel Company stocks and sells methanol and bulk lye at our Sully, Iowa and West Alexander, PA locations and lye only in Eau Claire, WI. Call for prices or see the order form.
What exactly do I need to make biodiesel, besides what is included with the FuelMeister?
You'll need: a barrel with at least 20 gallons of vegetable oil, a barrel with at least 10 gallons of 95%+ methanol, a clean empty barrel to store your biodiesel, an AC outlet, a water hose attached to a faucet, and a water hose led to a water drain.
What are the regulations regarding storing methanol and biodiesel?
If you treat your barrels of methanol and biodiesel as you would treat barrels of gasoline, you'll be safe. Check with your local fire marshal about your local safety regulations for storing gasoline (such as for use with an emergency generator).
If you have any questions, please feel free to call us. We are here to answer any questions that you may have both during your evaluation of the FuelMeister, and after your purchase. We are committed to providing the best customer service before, during, and after the sale.
We look forward to working with you!
Azure Biodiesel Company