Bio Fuel

Gaiam.com, Inc  

Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy

When Rudolph Diesel invented his engine in the late nineteenth century, he envisioned a device that could run anywhere on a wide range of local fuels. Engineers, today, show us this is indeed possible with biodiesel.

Biodiesel is:

  • more biodegradable than sugar and less toxic than table salt.
  • produced from domestic feedstocks, reducing the need for foreign oil while boosting the local economy and supporting the agricultural community.

Biodiesel can:

  • reduce net CO2 emissions by 78 percent compared with petroleum diesel fuel, cutting greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.
  • be mixed with petroleum diesel at any level to produce a cleaner-burning biodiesel blend.
  • be blended with No. 2 oil for home heating, usually without any retrofits required.

Used vegetable oil and other vegetable sources can fuel a whole new economy. Biodiesel is making headlines these days as gas prices skyrocket, but the truth is it can also reduce net CO2 emissions by 78% compared with petroleum diesel fuel.

As the politics of energy grow bleak, visionary entrepreneurs in the biofuels industry may very well become society's next great hope-heroes to today's energy insecurity the way astronauts were to the Cold War's space race. If the political, environmental, or financial woes of our current fuel industry have you concerned, it's time to take another look at biodiesel! (More articles on this topic)

 

Bio Fuel products

The bio-fuel products we are offering are high-quality, long-life units. They are also easy to use and maintain.

AGR BioHome 150 icon
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The BioHome 150 is designed for just about anyone who wants to economically produce their own, clean burning 100% biodiesel fuel. The compact, portable design is self- contained with individual compartments for each ingredient required to produce biodiesel. No measuring or mixing chemicals required. Simply add vegetable oil (new or used), methanol, and small amounts of sulfuric acid and lye, and start the manual process. In about 72 hours you will have 40 gallons of clean, smooth-running biodiesel.

With no titration or measuring required, simply fill everything up to indicated levels. The two-stage esterification and transesterification reaction removes uncertainty and eliminates delicate, time-consuming chemical tests. One-year mfg. warranty. USA.


Notes

BioPro 150 Features

  • Footprint - 33" x 33" Height: 68" adjustable +/- 2".
  • Construction - Polyethylene reaction vessel, painted carbon steel structure and component covers.
  • Fittings - All fittings are either 304 stainless steel or glass filled polypropylene.
  • Electrical - 115 VAC, 60 Hz, 20 Amp service.
  • Capacity - Processes 40 gallons of oil per batch - yields approximately the same volume of biodiesel.
  • Reaction Method - Acid-catalyzed esterification of free fatty acids followed by basecatalyzed transesterification of triglycerides. No titration necessary. Mixing handled by 1/3 HP TEFC motor driving 5" mixing propeller. Heated by 875 watt thermostat controlled heater. Integrated methoxide preparation.
  • Wash Method - Quadruple-stage turbulent water wash. Waste water removal controlled by conductive level sensor with timer safety backup.
  • Fuel Dispensing - 4GPM dispensing pump through automotive style filling nozzle.
  • Batch Processing Time - Approximately 3 days consisting of the following: Reaction - 6 hours; Initial settling - 24 hours; Water wash - 16 hours; Trace waste water evaporation - 24 hours.


Comments

Minimum requirements:

  • 40 gallons use or new vegetable or animal fat oil (triglyceride)
  • 8 gallons methanol (racing fuel)
  • Sodium hydrooxide (lye)
  • Sulfuric acid (93% pure - not battery acid)
  • Approximately 35 gallons fresh tap water
  • Standard 110VAC/20Amp dedicated power source
  • Air-tight storage containers for mental, lye, and sulfuric acid
  • Safety equipment such as rubber gloves, protective eye goggles, rubber apron, etc.

 

AGR BioPro 190 icon
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The BioPro 190 is designed for just about anyone who wants to economically produce their own, clean burning 100% biodiesel fuel. The compact, portable design is self- contained with individual compartments for each ingredient required to produce biodiesel. No measuring or mixing chemicals required. Simply add vegetable oil (new or used), methanol, and small amounts of sulfuric acid and lye, and start the automated process. In about 60 hours you will have 50 gallons of clean, smooth-running biodiesel.
The BioPro 190 has been designed for minimal operator involvement. The patented logic controller has built-in fault protection, which provides self monitoring and step-by-step guidance to the operator. No transfer of the finished fuel into storage or distribution tanks required. Simply pump the biodiesel directly into your vehicle or equipment fuel tank using the integrated 12-gpm filler pump.

With no titration or measuring required, simply fill everything up to indicated levels and turn on your processor. The two-stage esterification and transesterification reaction removes uncertainty and eliminates delicate, time-consuming chemical tests. One-year mfg. warranty. USA.


Notes

BioPro 190 Features
We took the BioPro 150 and gave it a smaller footprint, a bigger capacity, a more meticulous water wash, and made it easier to use. Meet the BioPro 190!


  • Built to last- TIG welded stainless construction with polypropylene, polyethylene, and teflon wetted parts, viton gaskets.
  • Quality components - This is not slapped together with parts from one of those imported imitation component discount superstores. We use a Dayton motor, Flojet pump, Banjo camlock fittings, Norwesco and Banjo manual valves, ECI solenoid valves, etc.
  • No titration or measuring - Simply fill everything up to the indicated levels and away you go. Our two stage esterification-transesterification reaction takes all the uncertainty out and eliminates delicate, time-consuming chemical tests.
  • Easy to use - To use the automatic mode to make a batch, the only interaction required after adding ingredients is to push the big green start button. The bank of indicator lights keeps you informed as to the machine's progress as the logic controller does the work for you. Of course, we've also provided manual overrides to give you total control over what is going on if you want.
  • Versatile - You do not have to use fresh vegetable oil or worry about the free fatty acid content of used oil. As long as it's a triglyceride, vegetable or animal, cooked or not, the BioPro 190 can handle it and give you back clean biodiesel.


Comments

Minimum requirements:
  • 50 gallons used or new vegetable or animal fat oil (triglyceride)
  • 10 gallons methanol (racing fuel)
  • Sodium hydroxide (lye)
  • Sulfuric acid (93% pure - not battery acid)
  • Approximately 45 gallons fresh tap water
  • Standard 110VAC/20Amp dedicated power source
  • Air-tight storage containers for methanol, lye, and sulfuric acid
  • Safety equipment such as rubber gloves, protective eye goggles, rubber apron, etc.

FuelMeister Biodiesel Processor icon
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With a FuelMeister™ you don't have to be a plumber or mechanic to make your own biodiesel. This is not a hobby kit but a complete system engineered with quality materials. You get all the specialized equipment and supplies you need to start making biodiesel that same day. All you need to add is vegetable oil, methanol, electricity, and tap water. The whole setup fits comfortably in the corner of your garage. This is a "closed" system, so it won’t smell, and you won't have to pour or stir any liquids. It will turn even heavily used cooking oil into clean burning, biodegradable, and smooth-running biodiesel. Whatever you own that runs on diesel fuel you can power with the biodiesel you produce with your own FuelMeister biodiesel production system.

The FuelMeister produces approximately 40 gallons of biodiesel every 48 hours, with about one hour of operator time required per batch. Supplies typically cost 70 cents per gallon or less. Methanol is widely available as racing fuel, the lye catalyst is available at any hardware store. A safe manual methanol pump, and a precise digital scale for the lye is included, along with personal safety items rubber gloves, safety glasses, etc. and a titration kit for testing your raw oil to see precisely how much catalyst is required. This well-engineered package is designed for safety, quality, and ease of use with ball valves and see-thru tanks and tubing.

The optional Oil Pre-Heater with thermostat accelerates production and improves yields in cold climates. It includes wrap-on insulation, heater, and tape to fit any standard 55-gallon barrel you provide. 40"H x 20"D. 120vac.

Requires about 62"H x 25" diameter when assembled. USA.


Specifications
Max. Output 43.5 gallons per batch
Mix Rate 330 gallons per hour
Operator Time 1 hour per batch
Tank Chemical grade medium density polyethylene
Tank Stands Welded steel frame with levelers
Plumbing Chemical grade with brass/stainless ball valves


Notes

Specifications:
Biodiesel Output: 43.5 gallons (maximum) per batch
Mix Rate: 330 gallons per hour
Operator Time: 1 hour (typical)
Tank Material: Chemical grade medium density polyethylene
Tank Stands: Welded steel frame with levelers
Plumbing Materials: Chemical grade with brass/stainless ball valves
Processor Size: 62" high x 25" diameter
Pre-Mixer Size: 40" high x 20" diameter
Shipping Weight: approximately 85 lbs. (UPS shippable)
From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel
From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel

Book Description
From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank is the first and only book that details all aspects of running diesel engines on vegetable oil. Includes information on biodiesel, the diesel fuel substitute made from new or used vegetable as well as information on running any diesel engine on straight vegetable oil (SVO). This book is packed with history, information, instructions, photos, diagrams and resources. If you want to stop supporting Mid-East Petroleum oil, you must get this book.

About the Author
JOSHUA TICKELL activist, filmmaker and author of the book, From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel, has worked as an energy and environmental media consultant for the United States Congress, members of the Australian Parliament, The Department of Energy, as well as numerous private companies and individuals. Tickell has traveled nationwide in his vegetable-oil powered "Veggie Van" and he has appeared on the USA Today Show, Dateline NBC, CNN, The Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, The Australian Broadcast Corporation, and the Los Angeles Times. His recently released, hand built, custom engineered "Veggie Car" Datsun 240z sports car will embark on its first USA Tour with Dennis Weaver in 2003.
In addition to his work with biodiesel fuel, Tickell holds an MFA in film from the Motion Picture School of Florida State University. Joshua Tickell is currently directing a feature documentary, "Fields of Fuel, In Search of the Biodiesel Revolution" due to air in 2004.

Reviews:

Excellent resource:

First, the criticism. If you are looking for a serious and authoritative discussion of the science of global warming and the economics of petrochemicals and biofuels, this is NOT it. Tickell parrots the standard arguments of the average New York Times reader: disastrous global warming is a foregone conclusion, oil is going to run out abruptly any day now, etc. No economist worth his salt believes that we are going to run of oil ever, much less wake up one morning and find - Gasp! - it all ran out last night. Scientists who actually study global warming (as opposed to activists who "study" press reports) know that predicted temperature rises and collateral effects tend to be exaggerated by an alarmist press and entertainment industry. Tickell offers no indication that he is even aware of legitimate counterarguments.

To illustrate the author's poor economic analysis, he makes two assertions about sources of biodiesel. One is used vegetable oil from fast food restaurants. It may be cheap or even free now, but if everyone follows his advice, used vegetable oil will be in short supply and they will probably start charging for it. It is simply not going to be the case that everyone in the post-petrochemical future will be able to run their cars with "free" waste oil. He also asserts that all the oil we need could easily be grown on fallow fields. Although it is true, as he charges, that many fields are fallow because the gov't pays farmers NOT to grow, it is not true that all of them are. I have a friend who thinks that the Soil Conservation program is useful because farmers don't understand crop rotation and are too dumb to be trusted with "our" land - how are we going to convince people like him that we should scrap that program because biofuel farmers will make efficient use of those resources? Some bio-cheerleaders (I can't remember if Tickell takes this line or not) claim that a large scale shift to biofuels won't affect food prices, but that is almost certainly wrong. The amount of land required to make a dent into our petro-fuel usage would easily require both the fallow fields and some land currently used for food production. Demand up, price up, QED. He also complains (rightly) about the corporate welfare inherent in such farm programs without pointing out that some of the programs he applauds, like ethanol from corn, were championed by the Senator from Archer Daniels Midland, Bob Dole. It's doubtful that you could convince farmers to give up their farm programs just because of a new crop application. What are the odds that canola growers won't support biofuel subsidization?

Those 15 or so pages are a minor problem with a book of over 125 pages of meaty "How To" information. He has real experience with biofuel conversion, and so has plenty to say about using straight vegetable oil (SVO) and converting SVO to biodiesel in your garage. I suspect that he included the first chapter material because there is a certain amount of echo chamber feedback built in to the likely target audience for this book. That is, a small portion of people who will look for this information may be "techno geeks", but the majority will be "tree huggers". They tend to be mutually exclusive groups: surprisingly, something like 80% of the Early Adapters of hybrids were people who identified themselves as conservatives. On the other end of the spectrum, Ned Lud (as in "luddite") is an EarthFirst! icon, and many recycling, anti-consumer-culture, low impact, "tree huggers" tend to attack the technology required to apply the information in this book (you have to have containers, usually made of steel or plastic, and you have to use electricity to mix and heat NaOH and racing fuel). Since the majority of the target audience for this book will be tree huggers, Tickell will be preaching to the converted, but it isn't clear that the converted will be willing to swallow their pride and principles long enough to apply his lessons. They are also such a small minority in the world that they won't make a big impact in the global picture; Tickell would do better to suppress his urge to preach nonsense to the choir and try proselytizing the majority who remain unconverted.

[Disclosure: I am a tree-hugging techno-geek, so I enjoy this kind of thing. I'd like to have taken the ill-informed California tree-hugger with the license plate NODIESL out to the woodshed.]

Why diesel instead of hybrid, the current darling of the press and the politician, especially on this side of the Atlantic? One problem with hybrids is that their apparent performance improvement is more hype than breakthrough. The fact that there is an electric engine in them has little to do with the increase in efficiency, while the smaller size, improved aerodynamics, narrow tires, and low power are making up most of the apparent improvement. The only improvement afforded by the electrical system is the recovery of kinetic and potential energy during braking and downhill travel. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot get more energy out of them then you put in, and the amount put in is still governed by the efficiency of conversion of chemical to heat to motion energy by a gas engine.

The turbo diesel is another animal altogether. Yes, it still converts chemical into kinetic energy, but it does so much more efficiently than the gasoline engine. There is a reason that diesels and not gassers are used in industrial applications. Not only do they run more efficiently, but they are less complex, lower maintenance, and produce higher torque than equivalent sized gassers.

Diesels account for 60% of new car sales in Europe, compared to about 1% in the US, and this impacts the choices available to Americans. European drivers tend to be middle-upper and upper class because of the high costs of licensure, fuel, insurance, and regulatory compliance (you almost never see old clunkers on the road in Euroland - why not?). The automobile industry takes into account that they can afford high performance vehicles but that they don't necessarily want to throw money away. As a result, European manufacturers make diesel vehicles that sip fuel, perform and handle well, have comfortable interiors, and generally leave the hybrids in the dust. Don't take my word for it: go try a turbodiesel VW Golf TDI (50 mpg), a Toyota Prius (45 mpg), and a Honda Civic HX (40-45 mpg).

With that said, another advantage of the diesel engine is the fact that it can be run on fuel made from plants, hence the interest to me of this book. The University of Idaho website contains studies that show that the break-even price for biodiesel was about $1.90 at the time of printing. That's about $0.17 cheaper than diesel costs here and now, so I am in the process of acquiring my own "brewing" equipiment. Even a fuel with 20% biodiesel (B20) is known to increase engine life because the superior lubricity of the biodiesel is good for the injectors (though biodiesel is bad for the rubber found in older engines, easily remedied with new high tech plastics - sorry, tree-huggers!). In addition to the private benefits of having a vehicle that is cheaper to operate, the fact that you can use biodiesel instead of dino-diesel means significant reductions in SO2 and CO2, so you can feel good about driving it and saving money for yourself all while jilting oil companies and terrorist-supporting royals out of of few pence.

The "brewing" information in this book can be found on the internet, but I think it is handy to have a one-stop reference like this. Not only does he list parts, ingredients, and recipes, so that you can build your own processor, but he also lists suppliers, support organizations, and other handy contacts. There are sections on troubleshooting and success stories. If you are a techno geek, skip Chapter 1 and go straight to the good stuff (unless you want a good laugh). If you are a tree hugger, please recognize that Chapter 1 is for entertainment purposes only. You should realize that this type of aggressively individualistic innovation could never occur in the planned economy so many of you seem to prefer. Read Hayek and Julian Simon (available here on Amazon). Then, go indulge a consumerist urge and buy a fancy new Mercedes TDI and start brewing your own fuel while we wait for Big Soy to overtake Big Oil!

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From the Fryer...

This book was included as part of a biodiesel equipment purchase I made. The first half of the book beats you to the ground with statistics that we can only hope are accurate because we wouldn't want to look it all up ourselves. Boring, very boring. Struggling through the stats will eventually get you to some pretty good material which gets better and better until you hit the "success stories" that follow. Although marginally interesting, they are followed by the second best section of the book, the resource pages. All of the text after that is an Index and less useful items. I'm happy I didn't have to shell out the dollars for this one as I feel that it is worth maybe ten bucks, tax and shipping included. I have also watched one of his videos which was not too inspiring or well done. So much for his film making. Overall, I found about 35% of the book useful with the rest being filler material. Still, the resource material alone may be worth the price to some. It's scarey to me that some consider this book the premier book available on biodiesel fuel. Everything in Tickell's book can be found elsewhere on the internet for free but it will take some looking around. If you MUST have this book then save some $$$ and buy it used.

...But bio-diesel is not likely to become a long-term fuel...

America uses 65 billion gallons of non-gasoline fuel a year. The issue is volume. The US is the number one exporter of soybeans in the world. Soybean is a reasonable raw material source for biodiesel, at about 200 gallons yield per acre. The best source is Algae. Algae yield are over 2000 gallons of biodiesel per acre. Farmers don't want Algae based biodiesel, they want soybean, corn, or animal fat. At best soybean, corn, and animal fat will provide 20% of the 65 billion gallons and require converting all agricultural fallow land into production. B20 makes sense in a non-energy crisis. B20 is 20% biodiesel and 80% diesel. B20 is very popular.

America's like big trucks and these big trucks use diesel engines to power them. Turbo Direct Injection is a key technology. TDI provides more power and a quieter biodiesel burning engine. TDI make diesel vehicles more attractive, but with diesel fuel exceeding $3 a gallon, consumers are looking for equivalent fuels that can be purchased at a lower price. Biodiesel looks good, for now.

Will oil become cheap? Yes. The fact that trillions of gallons of shale and tar oil remain to be extracted leads to the inevitable conclusion, yes.

Why is biodiesel growth accelerating in the US? Three reasons: 1. weakness in refinery capability 2. fuel traders betting that there will be future shortages, so they buy contracts to increase reserves causing temporary shortages and increased fuel price. 3. Environmental and political delays that slow down the extraction of shell and tar oil. Advocates of biodiesel like the fuel because of lower emissions (no sulfer, lower Nitride Oxide, and less complex hydrocarbon chains), economic benefits for agricultural corporations and special interest groups, and lubricating affect of engine parts. Customers appreciate a lower purchasing cost than diesel. Producers appreciate government subsidies, tax breaks, product incentives that allow the producer to sale an more expensive product for a lower price. Political support for biodiesel has brought attention and financial backing too bring the product too market. The fast growth profile associated with biodiesel will stretch debt limits. The banking system will need to be able to provide the stability for biodiesel to get established and accepted in the market. This will probably mean additional government assurances and financial reinforcement to give the appearance of confidence in this sector. Energy is a cyclic investment with strong peaks that gain interest but followed by long periods of disinterest. The energy sector is associated with heavy liabilities that eventually move investment close to the mean. As energy valuations move closer too the mean, biodiesel will experience more pressure to become competitive against oil. A handful of large Oil companies with their vast reserves of cash may/may not decide to keep alternate fuels alive. Oil companies will experience pressure from their shareholders either invest the cash reserves into infrastructure and alternate fuels or dividend payments. Oil companies can use Biodiesel as an environment friendlier fuel, as a marketing promotion.

However, Biodiesel cannot provide Zero emissions. Zero emissions are only possible through electric or fuel cell cars. Oil companies will probably line up with Hydrogen production technology, fuel cells, nano carbon fiber hydrid storage systems, and battery technology. It would be interesting if biodiesel could be converted into hydrogen. If this connection were possible than biodiesel survival becomes more likely. If we are reliving the late 70s then biodiesel will flourish until oil becomes cheap. What is the purpose of the zero emmissions initiative? Why will the consumer support a zero emisssion vehicle? Is zero emissions cost effective? What automative companies will jump over hybrids and move to zero emission technology? What happens when the consumer can purchase an electric car for 40k and furthermore, this vehicle cost 1 cent per mile to operate? Telsa's 70 pound engine.

Hybrids have been very affective in large trucks, trains, and generators. Hybrids will rely on biodiesel to operate. Trains could migrate towards pure electric. Large trucks would remain the target long term.