Although the chemical reactions in bio-diesel production process in home are relatively straightforward, things still may go wrong in some cases. In order to rescue a batch and avoid the occurrence of the similar problems or rescue a batch in time, you should try to understand the possible reason why a bio-diesel fails.
On the other hand, failed biodesel production might produce something of value sometimes, like soap. Be aware of this sort of situation could prevent a total loss of this batch.
Things You’ll Need
- Test tube
- Storage containers
- 500 mL graduated cylinder or flask
1. No Obvious Boundary Layer
- Make sure if a clear boundary exists between the bio-diesel phase and glycerin layers. If you can’t find it, the reaction between vegetable oil and sodium methoxide in improper, and bio-diesel has not been produced. This situation usually occurs when the sodium methoxide is exposed for a long time before being added to the oil, or the amount of added lye are too large.
- Prepare a mixture of some of the improperly reacted batch and water. Check for suds and hard lumps. If you can find suds, the added lye is too much; if you can find hard lumps, soap exists, although it may be useful in the further step.
- Decant the viscous liquid in the batch. If you want to salvage the batch, you may titrate this runny liquid once again and repeat the bio-diesel production process.
2. Insufficient Glycerin Production
- Identify the amount of glycerin created. If the glycerin in the batch is less than 100 milliliters per liter of oil, the bio-diesel reaction process is not completed. If the titration step is correctly conducted, this incomplete reaction probably results from the lost efficacy due to its too long storage.
- Prepare a new batch of methoxide for the failed oil. In a typical methoxide batch, 0.75 grams of lye are mixed with 0.03 liters of methanol for every liter of filed oil.
- Mix a new methoxide with the failed batch to complete the bio-diesel reaction. More glycerin will be obtained from the batch.
3. Testing Bio-diesel for Quality
- Mix some of the bio-diesel with water in a test tube. Shake the tube vigorously. If the bio-diesel is washed clean, it should separate from the water quickly. If it doesn’t, there are still too many contaminants in the bio-diesel and further cleaning steps are needed.
- Check the drained wash water in the last washing cycle. If it is still dirty, another washing cycle of the bio-diesel is necessary.
- Finally, shake the wash water sample vigorously and check for suds. If you can find suds, soap exists and another washing cycle for the bio-diesel is still needed.
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