Drum Based Biodiesel Processor
By Rick Da Tech
Joe_M is a regular on the infopop forum and owner of Rilla BioFuels LLC. He makes his biodiesel in a 55 gallon drum with some rather unique plumbing. His design is effective and inexpensive. The basic concept is to use the 2" bung of a drum for both the suction and return lines of the pump mixing system.
His design is centered around a special bushing that goes in the 2" bung of a drum. This bushing lets you screw two pipes into it on either side. One pipe reaches to the bottom of the drum and connected to the suction side of the pump. The other is the return and is connected to the output of the pump. The whole system can be moved from drum to drum letting you make multiple batches in multiple drums with one set of processor plumbing.
One of the pipes reaches all the way to the bottom of the drum. Biodiesel is drawn into this pipe, up through the two inch bung adapter and into the input of the pump. This input of the pump is TEE'd to allow for methoxide injection and a temperature gauge. The temperature gauge is mounted before the methoxide injection port to prevent false readings during methoxide injection.
The gear pump is available from Graingers and pumps 10 gallons per minute. It takes a 1/2hp motor to operate the pump and both are bolted down to a 2x12 wood plank. Joe said that to save money, some have substituted the HF pump with good success. He did note that priming the pump required more work than with the gear pump.
The pump and motor are sitting on top of a cart that Joe moves from drum to drum. That way while one drum is processing, the next drum is heating up. Methoxide is mixed in a 15 gallon HDPE drum. In the photos below it shows a 30 gallon drum for the methoxide tank.
Heat is applied however you desire. Joe uses a spear heater and an inline heater. A spear heater is a water heater element mounted on the end of a pipe that he sticks into the drums. The power cord is run on the inside of the pipe to protect it from the oil/biodiesel. The inline heater does slow down production by tying up the processor plumbing while heating, unlike with the spear heater.
The processor will work with either steel drums or plastic drums. Plastic drums are made from HDPE and can withstand a lot of abuse. If you use a neutral plastic drum, then you can see through it with the aid of a light to determine how it is settling out.