How to Load Oil into an Appleseed Biodiesel Processor
By Rick Da Tech
I wanted to see how different people loaded oil into their Appleseed Biodiesel Processors, so I ran a thread on infopop. I also found a few other methods in various places on the internet. Here is the results of that effort.
Pour it in:
WVO can be poured or gravity fed into the tank. Simply connect a hose and hose barb to a carboy lid. Connect the other end to the drain valve. Screw the carboy lid onto your 5 gallon carboy and pour the oil into the tank.
Other methods of pouring WVO into the Appleseed Biodiesel Processor call for using a big funnel. You can make a funnel out of a 5 gallon bucket and attach it to the vent valve of your processor. Two methods to attach a drain or bung to a bucket are using pvc parts to make a bung as and using a kitchen sink drain. As long as there is a good way for the air to escape the tank, pouring the WVO in will go quickly. People that use the pour method to fill their tank also have some way to easily get above the top of the processor, like a scaffolding with stairs.
Pump it In
If your WVO is in a 55-gallon drum you can use any number of drum pumps to move it into the Appleseed. All you need to do is connect the output of the drum pump to the drain valve on the Appleseed processorand pump away. Pumping the oil into the top of the tank will make disconnecting a cleaner proposition. The typical Appleseed will use three of the four high ports to connect plumbing. The fourth port will be plugged. You can put a pipe nipple and ball valve in this port and make yourself a loading port.
The Tank Isolation the Drain and Recirculation and sight tube valves need to be open if you want to load using the drain valve. You determine how much oil you have loaded into your Appleseed by reading the level in the sight tube or the braided return line.
Hand lever pumps or crank pumps work well for this, but you will definitely get a good workout pumping 30 or more gallons. You can reduce your workload by using electric pumps.
There are several smaller pumps under $100 that work on 12V that will work for a while, but they tend to get hot and either shut down or melt after 10 or 15 minutes of pumping. Examples of these are the Pony pump from Northern Tool for $49.99
The 12V and 115V tranfer pumps in the $100 to $150 range work well on liquid WVO. The Northern Tool $99 5gpm and the Fillrite 1602 or Fillrite 1604.
Electric powered pumps that are rated for over 1000 centistokes and capable of handling hydrogenated or semisolid WVO are typically over $300. They are generally little gear pumps mounted on great big motors.
Vacuum it up.
You can pull a slight vacuum on the water heater with an inexpensive vacuum pump and simply draw the oil in with the vacuum. Old refrigerator compressors will do the trick, as will more expensive HVAC vacuum pumps. Hot water heaters are not designed for vacuum and will collapse with hard vacuum. However a light vacuum of 10" or 15" should not damage anything and should be enough to draw the oil into the Appleseed.
Suck it in with the Mixing Pump
You can use the mixing pump to draw the oil into the tank once the pump has been primed. There are two fundamental ways to plumb your processor when using the mixing pump to load oil, using a wand to draw from the top of the Appleseed, and plumbing to a drain in the bottom of the WVO contianer.
A simple wand can be constructed from vacuum rated hose some PVC pipe and fittings and a simple PVC check valve. Cam-Locks help to make changing out the hoses easy. A wand has the distinct advantage of letting you draw the good oil from the top of your WVO without disturbing the lower layers. One interesting method of priming the wand is to use a siphon pump to pull a vacuum on the wand. If the end of the wand is under WVO, it will pull the WVO up the tube to prime the pump. The photo shows a suction wand being primed by pouring oil into the plumbing.
By closing of the Tank Isolation Valve you limit the priming to a small section of the plumbing, the pump and the wand. Any method discussed above can be used, here we use a drum pump to prime the mixing pump.
Once it's primed and you use the pump to draw oil from another container, make sure you turn off the pump before you remove the suction line from the oil or you will loose prime on your pump.
My favorite priming technique is to use a bottom draining pretreat tank. If the oil level is above the pump, it will self prime by gravity letting the pump kick in and pump the rest. A pretreat tank with a drain valve on the bottom will also let you drain off the contanminates that tend to collect in the bottom of WVO tanks. Standpipe tanks are plumbed like a wash tank and are a good choice for letting you draw oil from the middle or from the bottom. Pre-treat tanks let you use hydrogenated oils and solid grease since you can simply strap a drum heater on the steel versions and heat until everything is liquid.
If you use a closed head drum to collect your oil, you can plumb the 3/4" bung to the drain then use a drum cradle to lay the drum on it's side with the 2" bung on top. Open the 2" bung for a vent and use the mixing pump to load the processor.