Picture of Make Biodiesel!
Instructable #2 in my series on biodiesel.

This is my tutorial for using my appleseed processor to make biodiesel. This tutorial will get you through the process of making biodiesel, but not the necessary washing process. I will do my next instructable on dry-washing biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a great way to go green, and cut your carbon footprint quite substantially, not to mention it's cheaper than diesel. Biodiesel will run in a diesel engine, I don't recommend trying it in a gas engine.
The process for making biodiesel uses an oil, a catalyst, and an alcohol. In this case: Waste vegi oil (WVO), NaOH (lye), and methanol.

Please read up on this before you start, and please understand the chemical dangers involved in this process.

Step 1: Safety

Picture of Safety
First off, some disclaimers and safety info.

NaOH (or KOH, depending on your catalyst of choice) is extremely caustic and will cause extreme irritation if it comes into contact with your skin, eyes, or any other part of you. Methanol is a harmful alcohol. It will cause blindness or death if ingested; one way it's absorbed into your body is through your skin, so simply handling the stuff with bare hand is bad for you. Lastly, Methoxide, the substance produced when you mix your catalyst with the methanol, is an extremely toxic nerve agent. It can do some serious bodily damage.


I use a chemical resistant p100 respirator when I do this process, as well as eye protection. I use some heavy-duty chemical-proof gloves from Northern Tool. Long sleeves are recommended.
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sjustin22 months ago

Hemp is also a great source of biofuel

stib7 years ago
If you're making biofuel from waste products good on you, but if you think that biofuel is the 'green' solution to everyones transport needs I have to rain on the parade a bit. Biofuel sounds like a good idea until you start thinking about the consequences of it a little.

Like the way it's pushing up the price of foodaround the world, and the fact that producing food crops uses about 2.3 times more fossil fuelenergy to grow than the energy they provide.

Looks like I can swap destroying the climate with my car for causing global famine with my car. Makes you wonder what would it take to get people to ride bikes instead.
odiekokee stib4 months ago

Overpopulation is going to destroy man-kind far before climate change. Thank the good folks who are against contraception and work so hard for disease control for that.

servant74 stib7 years ago
yep, but riding bikes on a 50 mile one way commute in Houston TX or LA kind of sucks. ... such is life for those outside the sweet spot areas where walking, bicycling, or even train commuting is an option.
lol, perhaps your problem was taking a job that required communing 100 miles a day.
If he's making it from WASTE oil, than tell me again how that will drive up food prices? It was going to be thrown away anyways; hence the term "waste".
drinkmorecoffee (author)  stib7 years ago
One word: Algae. Biofuels from food crops- bad idea, biofuels from non-food sources- the way of the future.
Well, biofuels from non food crops sounds good, until farmers who were growing food crops realise there's more money in growing fuel crops and give up growing food. It's not rocket surgery, it's market economics 101. If everyone switches to biofuels we can kiss the last of the world's rainforests goodbye. Biofuels from algae does sound promising, but then there will be impacts on marine environments. It just takes a lot of area to power the private car fleet with plant based sources. But you know I use biofuel for most of my transport needs: I eat food and ride a bike.
drinkmorecoffee (author)  stib7 years ago
Yes, but algae can be grown in the middle of nowhere. The fact that soil conditions matter a lot less with algae means it doesn't have to take up food crop land, or rainforest areas. There's still plenty of ground to cover, but algae is very promising.
actually, soil conditions don't matter at all to algae, because it grows in the WATER, thats right, not the middle of nowhere, the middle of the OCEAN, its actually a promising idea, I've heard of it before. About the farmers switching to it, most like there land, not the ocean, I'm sure that a new job niche will only do good things for the economy (now, I've tried to make this neutral enough so that I don't spark a huge debate, but, in advance, sorry if i offend anyone)
drinkmorecoffee (author)  smithy8137 years ago
Well, the most promising way to grow it right now is in tanks, above ground. No harvesting required. This could be done in the middle of nowhere, somewhere where the soil is no good for growing food-crops.
remember we can always go down or up so we could have tanks stacked on top of eachother 10 stories down and 10 stories up, that would reduse the surface area of the tanks on land by 95%
I like the one where they use overgrown plastic baggies hung row after row, with the algae solution pumped into the top and it slowly winds its way to the bottom. Still has big tanks to drain it into, but it does allow for circulation and central harvesting / maintenance / feeding. Some bloke in El Paso TX seems to have come up with it, but they are still working on which is the most profitable strain of algae for them. personally I have seen plenty of swimming pools and ponds that could use to have some cleaning done ... at least there the algae could be used rather than just thrown / flushed away if algae harvesting was easy to do.
OI VEY! soylyent green!
nicoroc stib4 years ago
dident you read the comment above? bio fuel is being grown with alge that feeds on sewage waste and has 50% its weight in useable oil, that dose nothing to food prices and it cleans waste water naturaly, oh and after they extract the oil from the alge the left over "green powder" is considered a "super food" that is sold in health food stores so its making food also.
drinkmorecoffee (author)  nicoroc4 years ago
Fascinating. What are your sources for that?
theres tons of info on bio alge, just ask google, lol, out here in california they're doing some tests out in desert areas and i think austrailia too
drinkmorecoffee (author)  nicoroc4 years ago
There sure is a lot of info out there. But you should still provide sources when making claims like that.
as far as fuels go, people need to reinvent the automobile. most people, say new fuels (most are bogus) but we all need to turn to something simple and completely eco-friendly. A great tech piece would actually be a tesla turbine to power vehicles, their powerful, energy efficient, structurally superb, and with todays metallurgy they have slim chances to fail.
You're thinking too small. Its society that needs to change not the car. Energy should be distributed locally rather than through a national grid system. Cities should be high density with district heating and cooling. With integrated public transport cars wouldn't be needed other than for recreation.
look in the world for civilizations to grow they need some form of an economic platform, most turned to a form of capitalism (since theoretically it works). Now not just with capitalism, any form of economic growth system needs an infinite plan of resources and time. Why this has to do with fuel sources like gasoline, the modern civilizations have been accelerated by the growth of a commodity. If you look at the word commodity, it implies the function of running out. Onto what i was wanting to really say, the problem with a national grid and a local grid is you are still using a polluting resource that is the problem. Also Without an national grid, there is no form of transportation between city's. Now with a local grid, these would be so hectic to run, most areas don't have fuel sources, there would be little to no imports and exports, areas that were once inhabited could not (nevada) due to resources, and if you had a large central city where people of the surrounding area lived there this city would be so large to not even travel without some form of a motor vehicle.
bingo1912 stib4 years ago
Yup, what he said,,,,,
Pkranger88 stib7 years ago
So you've made complaint. What's your solution, all wise and knowing?
T2Pogi stib7 years ago
There are many sources of veggie oil and tapping into these sources will no greatly impact the food situation. There is jatropa seeds, coconut oil (many countries in asia have a surplus capacity of this oil due to the scare re "unhealthy" oils), and of course, there is the waste oil for small consumers like us. now if you are talking about ethanol from corn, you may be right. that route is apparently not the way to go.
JimU11 months ago

For how long do I need to keep the oil heated?

JimU11 months ago

Dude...it took me a minute to figure out how you got six for your 50 X 6 = 300. You've got to follow the PEMDAS order of operations. The 4 + 2 should have been in (parentheses) to equal 6. The answer should have been 202 the way you had it set up. And how did you get the 4? Is that a constant no matter if it's 50 liters or 500 or 5000 liters? I'm new at this, but I have the knowledge of math and chemistry to make it happen. Thanks.

JKans1 year ago
I know I'm reviving an old thread but I would really enjoy another write up on the washing process or at least the OP's opinion on the best place to find this information. I am very interested.
akinich1 year ago
hi I would like to know if I can use ethanol instead of methanol
Interesting. Is there any other way to make this, using less toxic chemicals?
WWC3 years ago
This is what i used for my waist oil collection and processor for making Bio-Diesel.
Two 55 gal hot water heaters for processing. I diaphragm pump for collection. A dedicated collection truck.
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Sun Gear3 years ago
very well done. i have been doing reseearch into biodiesel and subsicuentally i ahve stumbled upon algae biodiesel. The process is the same from what i ahve found but instead ot methanol you use ethanol. This site http://www.oilgae.com/ is loaded with information for algae biodiesel, you can even use the algae to make ethanol too!
theturn3 years ago
Don't forget to adjust for purity of your catalyst :
In many cases its dificult to get 100 % pure catalyst (NaOH or KOH)
Divide your base (4 grams in above example) by purity.
If NaOH is used and its 90% pure divide 4 by 0.9 = 4.44 and add this to your titration result using above example (4.44 + 2) = 6.44 x 50 = 322g needed.
Failing to do this, you could leave free fatty acids (FFA) in your processor / finished biodiesel because you didn't account for purity and add enough catalyst.
The point of titrating is to find out exactly how much "extra" catalyst we need to deal with the FFA's over the basic formula for virgin veg oil.
Hope this helps.
Qcks3 years ago
Glycerin can be used to distil out a higher proof methanol product.

The less water you have in the Methoxide product, the higher quality the biodiesel you'll produce.

If you can get ahold of sodium peroxide that'd have even less water in the methoxide product.
Does biodiesel run as good as regular diesel or is there any noticeable differences like gas mileage, the way your engine sounds, your exhaust smell......?
It runs better than regular fuel IMO.

Bio diesel acts as a lubricant as well as a fuel for your engine. Depending where you get your waste oil from is what it will smell like for example if the majority of your oil stars out as cooking oil ( like from chip trucks) then your exhaust will smell like french fries. :P
jmiranda24 years ago
Two new technologies make ultra-pure biodiesel (that does not gel at 45F) from farm and municipal waste treatment plant effluent possible to make for $2/gal. production cost. Technology #1 Hydroponic algae farming - see http://www.algepower.com/ and http://www.necn.com/Boston/Business/2009/07/15/Algae-may-play-key-role-on/1247700676.html. This is a patented process. An adjunct technology from an Israeli firm, Patz (see patzag.org) sold under the name Patz-OZy, provides both the front-end treatment of the effluent (eliminating the need for a biodigester) and also the back-end separation of the cellulosic material from the runny liquid effluent. Technology #2 is patented, took 18 yrs. to develop/patent and is still in a professor's lab at Syracuse University. The method is called "supercritical transesterfication". Some benefits of this technology: minutes instead of hours, 96% efficient conversion, virtually all unwanted glycol byproducts eliminated. scalable (allows on-site processing) at 1/2 the price. Google Dr. Lawrence Tavlarides / Dr. George Anitescu (George has since moved on to NIST in Colorado.)

How To Guy6 years ago
How is biodiesel worse for the environment? Diesel is a fossil fuel. Biodiesel isn't. Besides, I wish all exhaust smelled like greasy french fries.
The main reason they are saying that bio diesel is bad for the environment is not true. what is bad is raising crops and using the oil for fuel instead of human consumption. When this happens the price if food goes up and less land is used for the production of food.. As our population grows so does the amount of land we use to live on, decreasing the amount of farmland. Couple that with the fact that more and more small farmers are leaving the farms.
Hug a farmer. they are a dying breed
the fact that its a fossil fuel doesn't make it worse for the environment, only certain fossil fuels are worse for the environment, the good thing about biodiesel is that it can be made out of waste products and wont run out...like fossil fuels
psi30004 years ago
WARNING!!! You imply that your p100 respirator will protect from Methoxide, when in fact IT WILL NOT!! NO RESPIRATOR WILL. Only fresh air supply will. Just a heads up. The best thing to do is mix the Methoxide and make the bio diesel outside with the wind blowing in the right direction. I wish there was a respirator that could help as this is the only thing holding me up from making my own bio diesel. I have everything to my my processor even and I stopped when I found this out.
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