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Biodiesel Tutorial

Intro To Biodiesel
Ingredients
Drying WVO
Biodiesel Recipes
Biodiesel Safety
Appleseed Reactor
Eco-System Processor
More Processors
Processor Upgrades
Methanol Recovery
Dry Washing Biodiesel
Water Washing
Drying Biodiesel
Fuel Dispensing
Dealing with Byproducts
Biodiesel Chemistry
Quality Testing
Conversion Tests
Water Tests
Tests Procedures for Homebrew Biodiesel
The Important Tests

Written by Rickdatech

 

Clarity Testing Biodiesel

1) Testing finished biodiesel for water.

Water in our biodiesel will make it cloudy or turbid. If the biodiesel is clear enough to read a newspaper through a sample then conventional wisdom is that it's dry enough to use in a vehicle.

The test is temperature dependent since hot biodiesel can hold more water without going cloudy than cold biodiesel. To make sure you have your biodiesel dry enough to use, put it in the refrigerator and chill it down below the coldest temperature your batch of biodiesel is likely to see. If it's going to be used right away then look to the nightly lows. If it's going to be stored long term, then look to the historical lows for the period you expect to store it. If the biodiesel gels up before going turbid then you have dry biodiesel.

The problem with this test, is that ASTM requires less than 500 ppm of water in biodiesel that is to be blended with diesel and biodiesel will hold 1500 ppm of water before going cloudy. So we can pass this test and fail for ASTM water levels. To Make sure your fuel meets the ASTM standards, use the Carbide Manometer or Sandy Brae test.

 
Titrating WVO
Titrating WVO for making biodiesel

Titrating WVO

Titrating WVO is essential to understanding the quality of your oil. It is a simple test and is used to build a biodiesel recipe. This article contains instructions and videos on how to tirate.

 

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The 3-27 Conversion Test
The 3-27 Conversion Test

The 3-27 Conversion Test

One of the most important tests available to home brewers. Biodiesel completely dissolves in methanol, while vegetable oil (VO) does not. It is this difference the 3-27 test depends on to give us an indication of how successful we have been at converting VO into biodiesel.

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Testing Methanol for Purity
Testing Methanol for Purity

Testing Methanol for Purity

This test will tell you how much water is in your methanol. Over time, water will get into your methanol from the air. The hydrometer is the best way for a home brewer to check it on the cheap.

 

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The Separation Test

This test is used to determine when to stop water washing your biodiesel. It works on the basic principle that we have removed enough impurities when the suspended water drops quickly to the bottom without forming an emulsion. The idea is we are mimicing what happens in a fuel tank. If we get water in the tank, and we have not washed enough, it will create an emulsion that can plug filters and destroy your IP. If it is washed enough, then any "suspended" water will be rejected by the biodiesel. Suspended water is water in small droplets that cause the biodiesel to be hazy or turbid.

Scoop out about 50ml of wet biodiesel from your wash tank. I like to take the sample while actively washing. It will be a hazy orange juice looking sample. Place your sample in a warm place like on top of a water heater. Time how long it takes for the biodiesel to become clear or translucent. If it takes longer than 10 minutes, then there are still needs more washing.

 
Soap Titration for Unwashed Biodiesel
Soap Titration for Unwashed Biodiesel

Soap Titration for Unwashed Biodiesel

This biodiesel titration test is used to determine the amount of soap in unwashed biodiesel. It is not part of ASTM D6751 biodiesel testing. It is a variation the one found in the Biodiesel Analytical Methods by the NREL pg 41, and has been tuned specifically for testing unwashed biodiesel.

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Cold Soak Filtration test
Cold Soak Filtration Test

Cold Soak Filtration Test

When biodiesel gets cold, sometimes stuff will fall out that doen't melt back in when it warms up. On the UK forum they call it HMPE for High Melting Point Esters. It is common with biodiesel made from WVO. This is the official ASTM test for it.

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GO/NO GO Field Titration
GO/NO GO Field Titration

Go/NO GO Field Titration

When you're out scouting for oil sources, it is best to test the oil before talking the source. That way you don't spend time acquiring a fantastic oil source that turns out to titrate to 20. This test lets you quickly determine if WVO meets your standard when looking for that perfect oil source.

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The Biodiesel pHLip Test
The Biodiesel pHLip Test

The Biodiesel pHLip Test

Cytoculture International manufactures the pHLip test for biodiesel. It costs about $5 per test and acts as a firewall against 'bad' fuel. It gives indications for low conversion, poorly washed fuel, and aging fuel

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Test Methods for Water in VO
Testing oil and biodiesel for water

Testing for Water in WVO

Homebrewers have relied on a number of tests to determine water content. The most common are the hot pan test, and the weigh-heat-weigh test. The Sandy Brae Water Test Kit, and the Carbide Manometer are becoming more popular due to improved accuracy at lower concentrations..

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The Hot Pan Test
Testing oil and biodiesel for water using the Hot Pan Test

The Hot Pan Test

The HPT or "Hot Pan Test" is a quick, unscientific and non-quantitative test to check for the presence of water in vegetable oil [VO]. The HPT checks for free and emulsified water, but does not see dissolved water.

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WHW Test for Water
GO/NO GO Field Titration

WHW Test for Water

This test quantifies the percent moisture in a sample of fuel. The larger the sample the more accurate the test, 250ml is the minimum amount for a common 1/10 gram scale. This is a standard moisture test commonly used in the agriculture industry. It can be used for VO, diesel fuel, or mixes of the two, but won't work with mixes containing volatile solvents like methanol.

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Carbide Manometer
Testing oil and biodiesel for water using the Carbide Manometer

The Carbide Manometer

The test is the DIY alternative to the Sandy Brae Water Test Kit. It uses a more readily available Calcium Hydride for the test. Calcium Hydride reacts with water to make acetylene. As the water is converted to acetylene, it diplaces the liquid in the manometer giving us a quantitative measure of how much water we have in our sample.

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Sandy Brae Water Test Kit
Testing oil and biodiesel for water using the Sandy Brae water test kit

The Sandy Brae Water Test Kit

The test works by chemically reacting the water with calcium hydride to produce hydrogen gas. The reaction takes place in a closed container creating a pressure. The pressure inside the closed container is chemically calibrated to read in water content directly. The test kit comes with the pressure vessel shown here. The kit costs $250, the reagents cost approximately $1.00 per test.

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How to make your own biodiesel at home

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WARNING

Making Biodiesel requires the use of flammable, toxic liquids and strong caustics to make a fuel. No matter what safety precautions are put in place or what equipment you use, making biodiesel will never be a safe hobby and can place you, your property, and your family at risk of injury or even death. Make Biodiesel at your own risk.

 

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