BioDiesel Class 101
Class # 11
- Questions & Answers
Q - Some
people do not wash BioDiesel & claim it works fine, does it need to be
While it is true that some people do not wash their BioDiesel. It is
unproven that it causes no harm to your engine which is why the
ASTM D 6751 and
standards exist. Just
because some one has done it does not mean it is safe to do it. In the Orient
they build high rise buildings using Bamboo scaffolding held in place with
twine, we do not do it in the USA because we think it is unsafe. Unwashed
BioDiesel holds soaps & alcohol along with dissolved water held by the soaps
& alcohol. Some people believe that the
soaps burn in the engine & cause no harm while others believe they burn
incompletely & cause coking of the fuel injectors especially if the engine
is of the direct injection type such as the Cummins. Since the injectors are the
coolest part of the relatively hot combustion chamber, unburned
gases condense onto the injectors coking them up.
In addition Bosch
has stated that some of their Injector Pumps can be
damaged if exposed to alcohol which is why we strongly recommend washing &
drying your fuel as the ASTM standards suggest.
Bosch states that internal delaminating of bonded components has been known
to occur from exposure to alcohol. Bosch states alcohol delaminating damage
will not be covered under warranty. All that said, if I had a really OLD model
diesel with really high mileage & it was on it's last leg, I may be tempted to take a chance
unwashed BioDiesel other than that, I'd never do it in a million years.
- How much does it really cost to make BioDiesel?
- Methanol (alcohol) is the largest cost for making BioDiesel.
Methanol composes 20% to 25% of the BioDiesel by volume so Methanol at $3.75
per gallon would cost between $30 & $37.50 to make a 40 gallon batch of
BioDiesel. The Lye cost is minor at around $1 to $1.50 to make this 40 gallon
batch. Electricity cost is minor around 8KW of power at 10 cents per KW of electricity
is used. Water used is very low cost. Methanol is made from Natural Gas & is
sold as a commodity on the spot market so just like gasoline the price
fluctuates, it could go higher than $3.75 per gallon but either way you crunch
the numbers, it is highly probable that your home made BioDiesel will be far
cheaper than the #2 diesel counterpart for years to come. Currently (mid
2007) BioDiesel costs around $1.25 per gallon to make currently.
How long do diesel engines last?
A - Cummins engines average 300,000 miles between rebuilds.
have no idea how long other brands last but they should outlast their gasoline
counterparts by a long way because diesel engines turn slower than gas
engines. Both BioDiesel and diesel fuel are both lubricants while gasoline is a solvent so less
wear occurs in a diesel engine. Diesel engines have fewer moving parts than
gasoline engines. BioDiesel is a better lubricant than #2 diesel fuel so
your engine should last even longer when burning BioDiesel as fuel.
What kind of conversion does my vehicle need so I can burn BioDiesel in my
A - None provided you have a diesel
engine, BioDiesel & Diesel fuel are interchangeable so you can mix them in
any proportion at any time. If you do have a gasoline engine you would
need to remove it, then install a diesel engine and all the diesel support stuff. You cannot
burn BioDiesel or #2 diesel fuel in any gasoline engine so don't ask silly
questions, go out & buy
yourself a long lasting Diesel!
- Why do my batches of BioDiesel come out looking different shades of
A - The color of
your BioDiesel is not an indication of quality. The shade
or color is determined by the base oil you started out with. Different oils
have a slightly different color or shade & this will translate into
different shades of color in your BioDiesel. Different foods fried in this
oil can also affect the shade because they may release their own oils into
- Is it normal for clear looking BioDiesel to turn into what looks like
Orange Juice when it is mist washed & why?
A - Yes, the
BioDiesel can change appearances & look like orange juice. The act
of mist washing introduces water into your BioDiesel which reacts with
the soaps, alcohol & left over glycerol turning it into this Orange Juice
looking stuff. Don't worry & keep mist washing it, until your wash water
comes out translucent white. Next bubble wash a couple times and you will find that it will turn clear again
once you get rid of the soaps,
glycerol, & alcohol left in it, just don't forget to Dry it later and it
will turn even clearer yet!
- Can I burn straight neat BioDiesel B100 in my vehicle?
A - Yes & No, this is a
tough one... I have but you should do some research on the internet & see if others with the same
year & model of vehicle are using B100. Straight BioDiesel is slightly
more viscous than #2 diesel fuel & some newer high tech diesel engines
running extremely high injection pressures with tiny injection nozzles may have a hard time
burning it straight although we have been told by some that they burn it
straight anyway without problems. The BioDiesel community is rather
helpful to others so do not be afraid to ask. If you cannot locate anyone
using straight BioDiesel in your vehicle, you can start out with what the vehicle
manufacturer suggests & then after seeing how it burns & listening
to the changes in
engine sound (yes it will run quieter), you can bump up the BioDiesel percentage
a bit at a time & see if you start running into trouble. If problems
begin to show up
simply add in some #2 diesel fuel to back it down to the previously
acceptable BioDiesel percentage level. The manufacturers take a very
conservative approach & allow low percentages of BioDiesel. Reference the our FAQ pages
Vehicle Manufacturers Fuel Warranty Statements
We know of many people using straight 100%
also called neat
B100 BioDiesel successfully in newer vehicles such as the 2006 VW Jetta.
Older vehicles such as our 1991 Dodge W250 Cummins could have issues due to the
older type of natural rubber fuel lines used. BioDiesel
can cause old style rubber fuel hoses to degrade and leak. After running
BioDiesel in our truck for over 2 years we changed out our 1991 Dodge RAM rubber fuel lines but
not see any degradation in the rubber hoses although they were OEM.
Close inspection of the hoses showed they had a liner inside which we
suspect was Viton. Which looked good as the day it was installed.
The new Viton Lined rubber fuel line is resistant to BioDiesel. For more
information on this fuel hose see
JC Whitney Fuel Injector Fluorelastomer-lined hose.
Q - I've
heard that BioDiesel can loosen up old crud in my fuel tank & cause clogging
of my fuel filters, is this true?
A - We have not
seen this. It is our
opinion that this could be true but we believe it is far more likely that
most fuel tanks are clean inside & the real root cause is either beginner error
or an algae bloom in the diesel fuel tank which gets killed by
the BioDiesel and starts sloughing off.
Our truck was 14 years old when we got it, we bought it from a used car dealer &
called the previous owner who said he never had the fuel tank worked on. In 14 years
this truck which holds 31 gallons of fuel was used an average of 7,500 miles a year so
the fuel sat in that tank a long time between fill ups with regular #2 diesel fuel. The
tank should have had a lot of this reported crud in it when we purchased the
truck. We were new to
BioDiesel at the time & had been trying a few short cuts such as
intentionally doing only a 1/2 wash, when it caught up with us. After a few tanks
of B100 were ran through the truck the fuel filter clogged up. We changed
out the fuel filter and drove 120 miles home, it clogged up again the next day.
Believing this was the infamous loosening of built up tank crud we removed
the fuel tank to see what was happening. To our great surprise we found the
14 year old plastic fuel tank was spotless inside. We did find a thin film
of clear yellowish jelly on our fuel basket screen that sits down in the
fuel tank though. We cut open both fuel filters that we had removed earlier & found the same thing
coating the media in them as well. This clear yellow jelly was water soluble
& washed right off with a bit of water. We believe it was soap. After hosing
out our fuel tank with water and drying it inside with a bunch of paper towels we put everything
back together again, put in a new fuel filter & have not had any further
problems. We firmly believe it was beginner error from faulty washing. Note that in almost every
case you read about this old built up tank crud problem, the vehicle was
recently put into use with BioDiesel & the maker is new to BioDiesel. Write it up to
beginner error and most likely incomplete washing & drying of the BioDiesel.
Another explanation may be a fuel tank Algae or Slime bloom that was never treated.
Water in #2 diesel fuel can start an Algae or Slime bloom to develop. Using BioDiesel
might possibly kill it and then when it loosens up it clogs up the filter. If it
was due to
Algae or Slime, then the fault was not the BioDiesel but improper
maintenance of the
fuel system where water in the #2 diesel fuel allowed Algae or Slime to grow and
it was the failure of the owner to take proper preventative measures. A
treatment of a fuel system biocide
such as this would have likely produced the same clogged filter results. In other words
it was likely not the fault of the BioDiesel but actually a bad batch of #2 diesel
fuel that contaminated the fuel system with Algae or Slime & improper
of the fuel system by the owner .
Q - If I can't
weld, can I build your processor?
A - We now are offering a
Cone Bottomed Processor Tank
component with all the fittings welded in place for you. All you do is
buy the plumbing locally & screw it together! This processor tank
will make an excellent BioDiesel processor. If you would prefer to cut costs
further, purchase our book and contact your local high school shop teacher & ask if they might be interested in an
building an environmentally friendly flat bottomed biodiesel processor as a class project. If they are not
cooperative then look in the yellow pages for a local welding or fabrication
shop in your local area. Our "All in One" flat bottomed processor has 7 pipe fittings
welded into it, a very simple job for most any welding shop. The work
shouldn't exceed more than an hour or two of time & the hourly shop rate
will vary from shop to shop. Even if you must pay to have made in a local
shop, your getting a lot of value for your money. At current prices every 40
gallon batch of BioDiesel that you make will save you $80. As you can see it
wouldn't take very long for your processor to pay for itself many times over
and as fuel prices continue to climb to new record highs, you can smile and
wave as you drive by the local filling stations.
Q - How much is
your BioDiesel book?
A - Our "Pretty Good BioDiesel book"
only costs $19.95 we have sold hundreds of copies in 21 countries so
far. Everyone is delighted with it, read their comments
We now are offering an Advanced
Biodiesel Processing book which shows you how to build our Cone Bottomed
BioDiesel Processor with our advanced heater power control box to prevent
successfully completed our BioDiesel 101 short course.
Now all that remains is to
get our book &
begin making your own
You may as well go on to our
FAQ area to get more good information.