Quality Testing

By Rick Da Tech

There are a number of tests used by Biodiesel Hobbyists and Commercial Manufactures to ensure high quality fuel. Here we describe some of them.

Testing Biodiesel at home

Quality Tests for Biodiesel

This section contains tests you can perform before, durring and after you make biodiesel to ensure you are making biodiesel up to your standards.

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The Biodiesel Washwater Separation Test

The Separation Test

This test is used to determine when to stop 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.

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The Top 5 Biodiesel Tests

The 5 Tests Every Home Brewer Should Know

While there are dozens of tests available to home brewers, there are only five that every biodiesel home brewer needs to know.

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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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pH Indicating Dyes for Biodiesel

pH Indicating Dyes for Biodiesel

An indicator dye is a dye that changes color with changes in pH. We use them in our titrations. There are several that we can use for different tasks. This article covers them as well as a few others.

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3M FFA Test Strips

FFA Test Strips

3M offers a test strip for measuring FFA% of oil. The strips cost about 50 cents a strip and will quickly tell us roughly how good or bad your oil is. It's a great idea for when your scouting for sources and want to test the oil on site.

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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

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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Gel point and cloud point test for biodiesel

Cloud Point and Pour Point Tests

Your Biodiesel can Gel up and clog your filter when it gets cold out. However, since the temperature that biodiesel starts to clog filters varies a great deal, we need to test the biodiesel we make to make sure it does not strand us on the highway in the snow.

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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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The 3-27 Conversion Test

The 3-27 Conversion Test

The 3-27 test is 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 oil and biodiesel for water using the Sandy Brae water test kit

The Sandy Brae Water Test Kit

This test is a commercially available water test kit that is easy to use and extremely accurate. The test kit comes with the pressure vessel shown here and chemical packets. The kit costs $250, the reagents cost approximately $1.00 per test.

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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 an extremely precise measure of how much water we have in our sample.

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Weigh Heat Weigh Test for Water in Oil

WHW Test for Water

This test is the most used test for water in oil by home brewers, it quantifies the percent moisture in a sample of fuel. It is relatively easy to perform and gives good accuracy and does not require anything more that a good scale which you need for making biodiesel and a stove.

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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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Testing oil and biodiesel for water

Testing for Water in WVO

Homebrewers have relied on a variety of tests to determine water content. The most common are the hot pan, and the weigh-heat-weigh tests. 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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titrate

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 titrate.

 

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methanoltest

Testing Methanol for Purity

This test tells you how much water is in your methanol. Over time, water gets 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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