Bio Diesel Info

Storing Bio Diesel Fuel

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By Joe Boyer
Northern Regional Sales Mgr. U.S. & Canada / Stanadyne / Fuel Management Technologies

First it's apparent that you are aware that Stanadyne is the OEM supplier to GM of the Fuel Pump and Filtration System on your GM 6.5 Diesel Hummer. I think your use of the "Performance Formula" Additive is a wise and prudent decision given the quality or lack of in today's Diesel Fuel. Regarding your Inquiry, Stanadyne lead the way among the Fuel Injection Equipment Manufacturers initial approval of the use of Bio-Diesel in our Fuel Systems. Bio Diesel can be formulated from a number of vegetable sources such as Canola oil, Peanut oil,Soybean oil and also animal fat. Since Soy Beans are the prominent vegetable oil source in the U.S. when we talk about Bio Diesel we are usually referring to Soybean Oil.

However,We,like Bosch, Lucas, Delphi and others have taken the position that we will not approve of nor accept warranty claims resulting from the use of more than the 5% ratio. Some vehicle and engine manufacturers have assumed the warranty and approved the B20 formula. Of course that's their decision and they are free to make it.

In concentrations of as little as 2% Bio we see significant improvement in Fuel Lubricity and the ability to keep fuel systems clean. That is crucial to the life of Injection Pumps in general and in your case, the Rotary Design Pump in particular. In addition, Cetane Values are usually improved and these are good things for Diesel Fuel.

Because there are so many variations and blends of the different 'Bio Diesel" and 'Enviroblend' fuels we haven't done any in depth testing of the effect of our 'Performance Formula' on these fuels that I can refer to specifically.

In General I can tell you this. Bio is rather expensive to use. It will cost aprox 1 cent for each 1% of Bio, so B 20 will cost roughly 20 cents more per gallon than conventional #2 Diesel. Vegetable oil does not have the same BTU value (aprox. 1700 BTU per gal. vs 1300 BTU ) as Fossil Fuel so your mileage will suffer something in the area of a 10% reduction. B20 will have a 7 - 8 degree higher cloud point and carries vastly greater amounts of water in solution in the fuel, and poses some challenges for cold weather use. Bio is not stable and tends to degrade rather quickly (roughly 90 day shelf life) as it does it grows more acidic and will cause corrosion and pitting in some metals such as Aluminum.

Given what I know about the characteristics of Bio Diesel and the Science that is used in the formulation of the "Performance Formula" package I would tell you by all means, if you intend to use the B20 certainly you should and are wise in using the Additive.

BioDiesel will react favorably to our Anti-Gel Ingredients but not as well as conventional Diesel Fuel. The water coalescing agent in the Additive will make it easier to get the water out of the fuel, but will require closer monitoring and changing of the fuel filters, because of the higher amounts of water being removed and trapped at the filter. That is a beneficial function of the Additive.

B100 or Neet Vegetable Oil, is for the most part rarely used and then in special applications and environments. With what we have learned very few will seriously considers using it because it just poses so many operational problems and is just not viable as a practical fuel at this time.

I am attaching the transcript of a Presentation I delivered ( 2 ) years ago at the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza in Terre Haute IN. I was asked to conduct a Seminar on Fuel & Filtration for the participants who for the most part were Pick-Up and R. V. Owners. Also you may want to visit the National BioDiesel Boards site


Biodiesel refueling sites in the US


Comment from a Hummer Owner Dan Holden:

In the nearly 2 years since I began using B100 I have had zero issues and have not converted anything. Just fill up and go as usual.

I like to run some bio in my engine because it lubricates the injection pump and like you said keeps the system clean. Straight oil is chemically different. I think it has a different ph. and I know it has a bunch of solids. Like you said, if you are going to run straight oil you have to heat it. If I lived in a warmer part of the country I might consider playing with the straight oil like you are. From what I know running B20 in the winter can be a problem. I'm waiting to see if the stations in Northern IL offer the B20 in the winter.

500 Gallon 9 foot Washer Tank

Check out and Ignore the people who want to make bio production "complicated" - it isn't! You can make 20 liter batches with a minimal investment in equipment.

When you make bio diesel from vegetable oil you are removing the glycerin from the oil. I've been making small batches of my own bio to test and it works fine but costs a lot because I don't have an inexpensive source for oil. I've been using it in my engine at 2% as an additive.

It isn't hard making 2 to 4 gallons but if you were going to make enough to fill up or put a dent in a Hummer tank you would have to have a decent size setup. You would need 55 gal drums of oil and a source for methanol. If you are going to get waste oil you will of course have to collect and filter it. 50 gallons of oil probably weighs close to 400 lbs. I've seen some designs that use a 40 or 50 gallon hot water heater to produce the stuff.

The formula is roughly 80% oil, 19.5 % methanol and .5% lye. What you do is pour the lye into the methanol and mix it up. Be careful because this is a very nasty substance. The reaction produces some heat (exothermic) and the resultant chemical I believe is very very alkaline and will cause real problems (like acid burns) if you get it on yourself or in your eyes. You then pour the mix into the oil and blend it in about 5 times within an hour. You let it sit for 8 hours and you will get pure glycerin on the bottom and the biodiesel on the top. You can clearly see the demarcation line. Siphon off the top and use it. Dry the glycerin out and use it as soap. The bio is nontoxic. Your final output is the amount of oil you started with. The process gets the solids out of the oil. I've been told if you really get into production you can tune the process which will use less methanol and reclaim the methanol. If you want to experiment you can use the Heet in the yellow bottles; it's pure methanol. You can buy 35lbs of oil (around 4gal) at Sam's for around 14 bucks.

This process is pretty much how you make soap.

We are making our own Biodiesel for $.50 a gallon and mixing it 10:1 with dino-diesel. The local Chinese restaurant is thrilled we are willing to haul used oil away. Our McDonald's will not allow anyone to take their oil. The truck runs great and smells like fried wonton's. Learned how from a book by Joshua Tickell "From the Frying Pan to the Fuel Tank". 177 pages with illustrations. You can download it as an e-book from Atlas for $6. Tickell uses the process that requires washing the Biodiesel and heating it. My neighbor uses a non-heated process and he has not had any trouble with his Mercedes. The Tickell book has a lot of tree-hugging political stuff but the production process works.

Methanol is about $2 at a local speed shop. Lye (NaOH) is available as powdered drain cleaner, don't use liquid drain cleaner. Biodiesel should weigh less than water.

Mercedes Diesels made after 1977 have an electric auxiliary water pump that works great for pumping waste oil, mixing the solutions and pumping the final product. The pump is about the size of a can of soda and can be found at the junk yard for around $15.

Knock on the back door and ask the manager, three in the afternoon is usually a good time since they are not as busy. I use a 12V hand held electric pump and a hose to pump the oil into barrels in the back of our pick-up. The restaurants here usually pay $60-$100 per week to have old oil hauled away. Find out what day they usually have the traps drained. It is best to just pump the clearer oil from the top and not disturb the debris on the bottom. The local Irish Pub is also happy to offer the used oil for free. I just tell them I am making tractor fuel. I get 15-35 gallons of "good stuff" each time. A little less at the local Irish Pub. I stop before it gets to the milky level.

100% Biodiesel works fine if the methanol has been completely removed through natural vaporization or heat, and the final product has been correctly filtered. It has to get pretty cold to need an additional heater for the oil. If gelling becomes a problem you can use the same anti-gelling products you would use for dinosaur diesel. If you plan to run 100% Biodiesel all the time you may decide to adjust the injection timing a few degrees for max efficiency.

The cost of set-up depends on how much Biodiesel you want to make at one time. Your first batch of Biodiesel can be made in a mayonnaise jar for under $3.

Click on and click on the Biodiesel link for more info on the first batch.

We started with 5 gallon batches and we can see making 100 gallon batches very soon. The tanks we are buying are used and the entire set-up should cost under $500. An old hot water heater might work for some people but we would rather use the heating elements from a hot water tank installed in a cone-bottom or dish-bottom tank that can be gently agitated with a pump or paddle mixer. The typical hot water heater does not have a mixer built in and the drains are not suited for decanting.

Our last batch was made with Ethanol and KOH for $.27 per gallon. We can make up to 600 gallons at a time. Due to the latest cold snap we have been running B20 in the HUMMER

Methanol is extremely flammable and toxic, the fumes would accumulate in a basement. I lost a good friend that used iso-cyanate paints in his basement. He thought he was safe because he used a laminar flow hood. The area needs to be well ventilated and a basement would be difficult to correctly ventilate.

Remember to wash, wash, wash the final product. Have several fuel filters handy in your truck. Glycerin can accumulate in the filter quickly and can leave you stranded. BioDiesel in an Airtight, sealed, dark container will last a long time....providing you never open it. Since that's impractical, let's look at the figures:

You've got 43 gallons of capacity in your truck. That's 4.65 complete fill ups from zero to completely full. In a worse case average, you use 10 gallons a week (100 miles/10MPG = 10 gallons). 20 weeks worth of fuel isn't too bad for storage. The BioDiesel groups and the DOE generally recommend a maximum storage time of 6 months for an actively used large storage tank. The 6 month/24 week window gives you about a month of wiggle room.

Bayer makes a Biodiesel anti oxidation fuel stabilizer called Baynox. It's recommended by a variety of groups in Europe and even by Motor Home Magazine here in the US. You can use that in your storage tank.

Methanol Condenser - Home made methanol recovery condenser. That is a 8" crescent wrench next to the condenser. It is just a 3 foot tube inside a larger tube full of marbles. The condenser is plumbed onto a barrel of recovered glycerin.

Air Bubbler - Close up of the bubbler. The tube on the left drops down into the tube on the right, both are about 6 feet tall. The purpose is to make air bubbles in the water layer that will rise to the surface and pop. The water washes the Biodiesel as the bubbles rise and fall inside the washing tank.

Bubbler Tube - 6 foot tall lifting tube. Our air bubbler system is a filter bubbler inside the lifting tube.

Don't waste your money, Azure sells FuelMeister brand processors. The major complaints about FuelMeister is:
1. Way Too Expensive! A trip to Harbor freight and Lowe's will produce a nearly identical system for a few hundred dollars.
2. The catalyst tank does not mix well. Calls to customer service produces worthless solutions like "Try banging on the top of the tank".
3. The cheap plastic tubing corrodes and needs to be replaced often.
4. The packets of lye are not that much more convenient and they are more expensive, titration is better.
5. The processor is not fumeless, don't be fooled into thinking it is completely safe. You still need to be careful.

FuelMeister offers a small two tank batch system for $3,000. Our home-made three tank batch system was assembled from parts obtained locally and on ebay for under $700. We can make batches of up to 500 gallons. The washing process takes the longest so we went to a three tank system to free up space for collecting filtered oil in the processing tank.

We use a steel mixing tank for the Methanol and KOH. KOH works as well as NaOH, we have had better luck with titrating KOH. 5 psi of air pressure pushes the catalyst through black steel pipes (not galvanized) up into the processing tank. Gravity removes the glycerin and an electric pump moves the Biodiesel through heavy flexible hoses to a washing tank. The heavy flexible hoses are available from boat supply and hot tub supply stores. After bubble washing and settling for one week the finished product is pumped into an outdoor above-ground steel storage transfer tank.

I don't know if anyone else has done this but we equipped our grease collection truck (F250 Diesel running on B20) with a 125 gallon transfer tank, filter and heat exchanger. As we are driving around collecting the oil, the engine coolant system is heating the collected oil to make for a more complete de-esterification process. Our truck transfer tank also eliminates the need for a tank heater in the processor. I will post pictures of our system if anyone is interested, there really isn't muck to look at. Our washing tank is a nice conversation piece.

Last week Bush signed the Jobs Creation Act that provides for huge tax incentives on Biodiesel: incentive/

Biodiesel has been around for 5000 years, it used to be called lamp oil. If anyone has never made Biodiesel you should make a small batch to see how easy it is:

On the HUMMER Biodiesel seems to quiet the injector pump, no noticeable difference in performance. Some fuel lines may be starting to get a little mushy. The filter does need to be changed often at first.

Yes please post any pics you have of your system, and a list of needed items for your three tank system, i would very much like to start making my own fuel. any idea on what kind of regulations there are their on selling excess fuel?

If you sell the excess fuel you need to pay the IRS Excise Tax. Tax is due when the fuel is put into the tank. You can avoid highway taxes if the fuel has Ruby Red dye added to it , but then it can only be used off road. Calling the Biodiesel a "fuel additive" is not good enough anymore, the IRS has a definition of Biodiesel and it is classified as a fuel, not an additive.

In Oklahoma you are also required to pay the Oklahoma Tax Commission a fuel sales tax. The County Commissioners will also need to routinely inspect the accuracy of the fuel delivery pump. Retail fuel sales also need to be ASTM certified (very expensive). Batch production of Biodiesel is not a viable business for retail sales. You need to use a continuous flow process and probably need to make on the order of 500,000+ gallons per year to make it as retail business.

If other people help you with the production process they can help pay for the expenses associated with producing the Biodiesel. A number of Co-ops have been formed around the country to produce and share Biodiesel. Most charge an annual membership fee and $X per gallon. The amount can be based on a number of creative accounting principles. Most Co-ops I have talked with

What do you do with all the glycerin bi-product as I assume you would wind up with a lot of it over time?

Plain glycerin is as toxic as maple syrup. It makes a great engine degreaser. Methanol left in the glycerin is the problem.
Two options with the glycerin:
1. Leave the glycerin in the sun so the methanol will evaporate.
2. Heat it to 148 degrees and capture the methanol steam in a condenser to re-use.

I've been told that other uses for the byproduct containing methanol are: It makes an excellent de-icing fluid for your steps, driveway, car windshield, etc. on a cold, icey winter day. The glycrine and alchohol lower the freezing point of the water quite like antifreeze, the airlines use it in the winter to de-ice the wings of jets.

We built a condenser, it plugs into the top of a barrel. The condenser is pretty much just a tube inside a bigger tube full of marbles. Two 220V hot water tank heaters in the barrel will heat 55 gallons of glycerin very easily. When the temp of the glycerin goes above 148 degreed stop collecting the methanol vapor because you will start collecting water (steam). If you wash the glycerin with hot water it will eventually turn from brown to opal-white and makes a good hand soap. Do not use it as a hand soap unless it has been cleaned.

Our reagent tank just uses a 1/3HP 1750 rpm mixer with a 4" paddle ($40 on ebay) to mix the methanol and KOH. The reactor tank uses a hydraulic pump ($35 on ebay) plumbed into the side of the processing tank just above the line where glycerin usually settles out. The same pump is used to move the finished product to the washer tank. A second electric pump moves the finished product to the transfer tank outside.

I have been reading about how sound (vibration) can make the final product settle out up to 20% faster. I am using that as an excuse for buying a new stereo with really big speakers for the barn. Biodiesel is not an Alternative fuel, it is an American fuel made from American products; that is why we collect the waste oil from a Chinese Restaurant, an Irish Pub and a Burrito Stand.

For those of you who brew your own, here's a fascinating article from National Geographic about fatty acid ester conversion using a sugar based compound instead of methoxide.