Biodiesel Review published by Utah Biodiesel Supply
Newsletter 02
April 2009
Welcome to the second issue of Biodiesel Review.  Like our first issue we've packed this issue with lots of great tips, tricks, and helpful information.

Thanks to everyone that submitted feedback for the newsletter! The response was incredible and we're excited to keep bringing you timely information to help you on this adventure we call Biodiesel.

Also, we now have published copies of these newsletters online so that you can access them anytime you'd like, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also print them out in full color as well in case you'd like to keep a particular article handy. You can view them at You can also access them from the main Utah Biodiesel Supply website. The link is on the top-left in the menu box labeled Join Our Email List.

As always, we welcome your feedback on the newsletters. If there's something you'd like to see covered, send it in to and we'll get it on the list.
In This Issue
EPA / DPF Updates
Emulsions 101 - Preventing And Curing Them
Dry Washing 101 - The Basics & More
Customer Spotlights
Titrations 101 - A Refresher Course
EPA / DPF Updates

Since our last newsletter in February, very little has been done in the automotive engine manufacturing world to resolve the Diesel Particulate issue.

However, there's a new grass roots movement afoot starting out of California to push Congress to force diesel engine manufacturers to become Biodiesel compatible.

To learn more, visit this website:
Emulsions 101 - Preventing And Curing Them
Biodiesel Pictures Online

If you've been making Biodiesel for any given amount of time, chances are you've seen an emulsion and maybe even had to deal with one yourself. They're a royal pain in the butt, aren't fun to see, and generally just cause more pain & heartache than they're worth. Because it's such a common part of making Biodiesel, we've decided it was high time to talk about emulsions, what they are, how to prevent them, and then how to fix them if you do get one. So, here comes Emulsions 101.

What Is An Emulsion?
In short, an emulsion is a combination of water, Biodiesel, soap,  sometimes glycerin and unreacted oil. They can be very liquid, bordering on what skim milk looks like to flat out cottage cheese looking. No matter what they look like, they just aren't fun to have around.

For a much more in-depth explanation of what an emulsion is, check out this great article: Jack Jones Article On Emulsions Essentially, the soap binds the water and the oil together and "emulsifies" them into a big, white, goopy mess.

Here's what an emulsion looks like:
Biodiesel Pictures Online
It reminds me of a white milk-shake. All nice, white, & frothy....
Emulsions can look like light skim milk, a dark vanilla ice cream shake, or even thick & chunky like cottage cheese or cheese curds. But, no matter how you slice it, it's something you really don't want to see.

How To Prevent Emulsions
The greatest way to deal with emulsions is to not get one in the first place. Here's 5 tips for keeping them far far away from your Biodiesel.

ALWAYS check your oil for water content and if it's wet (say higher than 5000 ppm or 0.5%) then remove the water.
Here's why:

Water + Oil + Catalyst = Soap (and lots of it!)
Soap + Oil + Water (a.k.a. water washing) = Emulsions

So, how do you remove that pesky water? Well, heat and time and, if possible, some mixing. The more of these used, the better.

Check Out This Article on how to dry Biodiesel as it gives some great tips.
The same concept in the article also works for drying waste oil before it's processed. In our Feb. 2009 Newsletter, we talked about tips & tricks for detecting water and tips on how to eliminated it as well. If you didn't have a chance to read through it, we highly recommend it.

Quick Water Removal Method
Here's a really basic method that I use in my personal BioPro 190 processor that works really well. You can modify this to your own equipment as well.
A- Turn on the manual heat for 18-24 hours with the lid off
B- Return to unit & drain off any water plus 1-2 extra gallons
     of "interface" oil

C- Then turn on the heat & stirrer for 6 hours with the lid off
D- After 6 hours, test for water content. If below 0.5%, process.

Now, for those without a BioPro, here's basically what we're doing and if you follow these principles, you can acheive similar results.
A- Apply heat via a heating element to bring oil up to about 130-140 F
(NOTE: If you have poly tanks, learn your upper heat limits and don't exceed them. It's usually about 120 deg. F)
B- Have a fan running over the top of the opening (this creates a "low pressure air system" above the tank and the moisture naturally will move from the oil to the low pressure and get blown away by the fan)
C- Circulate the oil. You can use a pump, an impeller, air bubbles, whatever you want. The goal is to just circulate the oil.

In the Feb. 2009 issue, we highlighted a system that we thought was ingenious for water removal that utilized a Dry Pro Nozzle, a fan, some heat, and a recirculating pump.

If you have a lot of unreacted oil mixed in with the Biodiesel, when you attempt to wash it the oil will get in the way & also cause an emulsion. To test for full reactions, just use the simple 3/27 Methanol Conversion Test

Basically, you add 3 mL Biodiesel to 27 mL of Methanol at 68 to 72 Deg F. Shake it, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and check for any oil drop out. We carry a Biodiesel Conversion Test Kit that makes doing the test extremely easy (and it's cheap too!) We even have a video available that shows how to do the test.

If your Biodiesel doesn't pass this test, just re-react it. Doing a re-reaction is pretty simple too and can yield you much higher quality Biodiesel anyway.
Here's the method I use:
A- Times your methanol & catalyst originally used by 30% (0.30)
B- Add this new amount of catalyst & methanol together & dissolve
C- Heat your Biodiesel back up & add this mixture to it & reprocess
D- Run the pump, impeller, processor, etc. for 2 hours, then allow the glycerin to separate again
E- Remove glycerin & retest for full reaction
F- Repeat again if necessary

When Biodiesel is made, a lot of that soap ends up down in the glycerin layer. When you drain the glycerin from your processor, be sure that you're getting all of it. If you don't, water can mix with the glycerin and also kick off an emulsion as well.

To be safe, I ALWAYS drain my glycerin 3 times. Here's how I do it.
A- Drain glycerin until you see Biodiesel then close the valve
B- Let the processor sit for AT LEAST 5-10 minutes
C- Come back & drain again (you'll be AMAZED at how much glycerin will sometimes come out)
D- Let it sit again for another 5 minutes
E- Drain again, but this time drain AT LEAST a 1/2 gallon of Biodiesel out as well

By doing this, you ensure that you get all the glycerin out (unless you're draining from an Appleseed/water heater style processor...but that's a whole other issue that we'll cover in another newsletter later).

Another trick to keep emulsions at bay is to add about a gallon of vinegar to your reacted Biodiesel before washing it. This mild acid works to keep soap from forming between the oil and water. In some cases it can even help break emulsions too.

Before washing your batch of Biodiesel, be sure to heat it back up to at least 80 to 90 deg. F. Cold Biodiesel and water don't really do too well together and the chances of getting an emulsion go up quite a bit the cooler the Biodiesel is.

Also, if it's at all possible, wash your Biodiesel with hot water. The hotter the better. It's the same concept as washing a greasy pan after you've cooked a couple hamburgers. The grease will wash out of the pan much faster if you use hot water.

How To Fix An Emulsion

Breaking emulsions is pretty simple. You just have to understand what got you there in the first place and then back out of it.

If you remember from above, an emulsion is just a mixture of oil and water. They aren't chemically bound together, they're just really well mixed. To break this mixture, you can use the following methods

This method is BY FAR my favorite method because it works so well and so fast.

Here's how to do it.
A- In a 5 gallon bucket, add about 1-2" of rock salt (ie. water softner salt)
--NOTE: ANY salt will do, but Calcium Chloride seems to work the best
B- Fill the bucket the rest of the way up with hot water
C- Dissolve the rock salt into the water
D- If possible, heat the emulsified Biodiesel back up to about 90-100 deg. F
E- Slowly add the salt-water mix to the emulsified Biodiesel
F- Using a stick or a stirrer (DO NOT USE A CIRCULATION PUMP) gently mix the salt water into the Biodiesel for about 30-45 seconds. (If using a BioPro, hit the manual stir for about 15-20 seconds)
G- Allow the mixture to sit for at least 3 hours but overnight is best
H- Return and drain off water
I- If there's still an emulsion, repeat this process.

Here's a link to some pictures of how well it works:

And, here's a link that explains why it works so well:

This method has been tried by others and found to be effective at times.

The Method:
A- Heat the Biodiesel back up to about 90-100 deg. F
B- For every 50 gallons of emulsified Biodiesel, add 1 Gallon of Vinegar
C- Gently mix in the Vinegar
D- Let the mixture set for several hours

I've seen limited success with this method, but others have indicated that it works.

This method was discovered by Jack Jones, the person that taught me to make Biodiesel years ago. It involves adding glycerin from a previous batch of Biodiesel to the emulsified mess.

The Method:
A- Heat up the emulsified Biodiesel to about 90-100 deg. F
B- Add half of the glycerin from your previous batch to the mix & stir
C- Let sit for at least 2-3 hours
D- If it hasn't broken yet, add the rest of the glycerin and stir again
E- Let sit for another 2-3 hours

If this method doesn't break the emulsion, consider using the Salt Method as it seems to be the most effective.

And there you have it!
1- What Emulsions Are
2- Why They Happen
3- How To Break Them

Here's wishing you an emulsion free brewing session!
Dry Washing 101- The Basics & More
In this article we discuss what it is, how it works, and why you may want to consider it.

In all my time doing Biodiesel, it seems there's always something new and exciting that comes out to make our lives better. The latest & greatest new technique is called dry washing. We've been researching this technique quite a bit and think it shows promise.

Dry Washing Defined:

Dry washing is the process of washing reacted Biodiesel of it's contaminants before it's ready for use. These contaminants include trace amounts of methanol, soap, glycerin, catalysts, and anything else that isn't Biodiesel. It's done through various ways and methods, but today we'll be concentrating on how it's performed when using dry wash columns and dry wash media.

Dry Washing Media:
This is the stuff that does the actual "washing". There's several different kinds of it, so lets get started....

These media types literally absorb the bad stuff out of the Biodiesel. It's a lot like a filter works.

The first to make the scene on the Biodiesel stage was a product called Magnesol. It's made of a fine powder of Magnesium Silicate (Yep! Same stuff that's in sand blasting powder and talcum powder!). This did an INCREDIBLE job of absorbing all the bad stuff out of Biodiesel and people flocked to it like crazy. Both small and large Biodiesel producers thought it was the greatest stuff in the world.....until they tried to get it back out!

You see Magnesol is an absolute BEAST to try & filter back out of the Biodiesel. Because the magnesium silicate particles are so small (remember, it's basically artificial sand) it'd find it's way right around fuel filters and into the finished Biodiesel. It was hard to detect it because it's such a small powder, but let a batch of Biodiesel sit for about a month and the fine silt would settle to the bottom. Even when 1 micron filters were used this sneaky stuff would still find a way to get past them! So, Magnesol lost credibility amont Biodiesel producers. You may see ads for it here & there in magazines and some places online will even make you a screaming great deal on it. Don't take the bait. Your diesel engine will thank you!

The next one to appear on the Biodiesel scene was a product called Eco2Pure. This one came out of Europe from a company called Filtertechnik. It's basically just Red Oak Wood Chips with some molecular sieves in it (some suspect the sieves are a Zeolite type of a product). Filtertechnik trumped this new product to the nth degree claiming it was the new panacea for dry washing, but, like anything out there, there were some trade-offs.

When originally released, Filtertechnik published some amazing numbers for usage rates; somewhere in the neighborhood of being able to filter something like 2500-3000 gallons of Biodiesel before needing to be replenished. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more like 1,000 to 1500 gallons. Other problems with Eco2Pure included not being able to get the stuff back out of the towers once it was used up (because it turned into a solid log-like substance; remember, these are wood chips, throw in some Biodiesel and they'll swell). Other problems include that it just plain and simple won't suck out all the soap; some of it just gets by.

Others have tried their own versions of just wood chips and other absorbents with a fair amount of success. For the most part, Eco2Pure works, but it works best when teamed up with some other media as well; such as an Ion Exchange resin, which is the next category we'll discuss.

Ion Exchange Media:
This type of media is a bead like substance that works by chemically altering the soaps and absorbing the glycerins out of the Biodiesel. It's typically in bead like form and can be either a "gel resin" (meaning a solid bead), or a "porous resin"  (meaning a bead with lots of holes).

How They Work
These resins are impregnated with a chemical (usually Sulfuric Acid) that literally can change the soap in Biodiesel back into a free-fatty acid through a process called Ion Echange. It works by ripping the Sodium or Potassium Ion off of the soap molecule that's in Biodiesel and then replaces it with a Hydrogen Ion. By doing this, you literally convert the soap back into an acid.

The resins also work by absorbing any glycerin into the beads as well; working much like the Eco2Pure media above. However, these resins DO NOT absorb high amounts of Methanol. In fact, if the methanol levels are too high, the soaps & glycerins won't be removed very well either, so it's important to note that while Ion Exchange Media will remove soaps and glycerins, it's lousy at getting rid of methanol.

Below are the types of resins we're aware of on the market.
Amberlite BD-10 Dry
Amberlite BD 10 DryProduced by Rohm & Haus, this was the first gel type resin to hit the scene.

This gel-type resin kicked everything off for Ion Exchange Resins and Biodiesel. It quickly became popular as a great resin; so popular that it was quickly followed by several competitors.

While Amberlite BD 10 Dry was a smash hit right from the start, it was manufactured in Germany making it next to impossible to get your hands on it. This was especially the case for small scale Biodiesel producers. For a time we partnered with a Biodiesel coop in Denver to bring it to our customers but once the supply dried up, it was gone.
You can read more about Amberlite BD 10 Dry here:

Purolite PD 206
Purolite PD 206 hit the scene fairly soon after Amberlite. This new resin was
Purolite PD 206manufactured by the Purolite Company out of Pennsylvania. It became a much easier resin to get ahold of and companies quickly embraced it as a replacement to the somewhat expensive and hard to get Amberlite product.

A few months ago we teamed up with Arbor Biofuels Company to bring it to our customers and have seen it become very popular.

You can read more about Purolite here:

Thermax T-45 BD Macro-Porous
Thermax T45 BD MPThermax is one of the newest resins to come on the scene and has been making quite a splash. Instead of being a solid bead-like resin, these beads have pores in them; like a Wiffle ball!

The pores give Thermax much better surface area to work with and allow the Biodiesel to be cleaned in a better fashion. Because it's a porous material, it also allows for better flow properties and isn't nearly as susceptible to compacting in a column like Amberlite or Purolite would be.

A great article was written by Arbor Biofuels Company, the US distributor for Thermax on why it works so well: Click here to read the article
You can also read more about Thermax here:

There are also some new ion exchange resins coming to market, but we haven't had a chance to test any of them, but a Google search for Biodiesel Dry Wash Resin will turn up a whole host of them.

Dry Washing Equipment:
To dry wash Biodiesel, you'll need a container to house the dry wash media in and flow the Biodiesel through. You'll also need a mesh screen at the bottom of the container to keep the dry wash media in the container and out of your Biodiesel once you're done washing with it.

Initially, people were using PVC tubes, but quickly discovered that Ion Exchange Resins would blow the sides of them out and deteriorate them due to compacting and the Sulfuric Acid ions eating away at the filters.

For the most part, the recommended solution for dry washing is using steel metal tubes. If you can swing it stainless is also nice, but expensive, so cold or hot rolled steel will work just fine. Most media recommends "3 to 1" dimensions (3 times the diameter for the height).

A really good article by Arbor Biofuels was written on sizing columns correctly here. Click here to read the article

We sat on the sidelines for quite a while waiting for the market to get many of the kinks worked out. After that happened we decided to go with two vendors of dry wash columns and media.

Arbor Biofuels Company
Arbor Biofuels has done some incredible research in the field of small scale Biodiesel production and dry washing. They've tried just about every resin under the sun and have kept meticulous research data on the results.

We've partnered with them to bring you several different customized dry wash towers. Four tower options are available for the Ion Exchange Resin and one option is available for Eco2Pure.

Ion Exchange Resin Towers & Tower Kits
Arbor Biofuels Dry Wash Towers Arbor Biofuels Dry Wash Tower Kit
3 Complete Towers      1 Dry Wash Resin Tower Kit

We now offer 3 completely built Arbor towers. A 6", 10", and 12" diameter setup. We also offer a 6" Tower Kit that will allow you to build your own.

Eco2Pure Dry Wash TowersArbor's Eco2Pure Tower has a specially designed fitting inside that makes removal of the Eco2Pure much easier. 33 lbs of Eco2Pure will typically purify about 1,000 to 1500 gallons of Biodiesel. The towers are able to hold about 10 lbs of Eco2Pure, so you can expect about 500-700 gallons purified before needing  to swap out the media.

Life expectancy of the media will largely depend on how well reacted your fuel is as well as how much soap and contaminants you're producing as well. It's a good product to work with but works best when teamed up with an Ion Exchange resin such as Thermax. You can learn more about the Eco2Pure Tower here

Springboard Biodiesel
Springboard Biodiesel, makers of the BioPro line of Biodiesel processors, has just come out with a new dry wash combo tower called the Spring Pro T76.
Spring Pro T76 Dry Wash Towers
This unique tower combo is a set of 10" columns that stand a little over 6 feet tall. The towers come pre-assembled and connected to a stand that utilizes a new swivel technology called Theta Lock that they created.

Inside the tower on the left, they utilize Eco2Pure and on the right is Thermax. The system works extremely well to remove the glycerin's and soaps from Biodiesel and fits well with a BioPro. Something unique to this system is it's turn-key design.

They've incorporated a pumping system that can be purchased with it for a little extra that will allow you to connect the towers to any Biodiesel processor and begin dry washing almost immediately. They also offer the option to pre-treat the media according to the manufacturers guidelines as well so that it's ready to go when it shows up on your end.

The Methanol Issue:
While dry washing Biodiesel does an outstanding job of removing glycerin and soap, it DOES NOT remove methanol. In some cases the Eco2Pure will absorb a little, but definitely not enough to bring the fuel into ASTM Specifications. For this reason, it is important that you have some sort of a plan in place to deal with methanol in the Biodiesel.

According to Springboard Biodiesel, "Typically, unwashed biodiesel will contain 1-1.5% or higher residual methanol by volume. If this is not removed, the biodiesel will not comply with ASTM D6751. ASTM D2887, ASTM D2887M, EN14110, ASTM D93, and ASTM D613 are all sections of the ASTM D6751 standard which may be adversely effected if residual methanol is not removed from the finished fuel."

To give you an idea of how much that is, if you had 100 gallons of unwashed Biodiesel, and methanol levels were at 1%, that's a full gallon of Methanol in the fuel. While there have been several studies performed, I have yet to see much conclusive evidence that having that much methanol in the fuel really causes any problems. In fact, pre-detonation (pinging) isn't really an issue because the fuel in a diesel engine all gets injected at the same time (at the top of the combustion stroke). In some cases it may cause the engine to burn hotter (ie. hotter Exhaust Gas Temperatures), but there's been relatively little evidence that supports any problems with methanol at this level being in the fuel.

That said, methanol is a solvent and, like Biodiesel, can erode away some metals and rubber seals. However, the REAL issue here is what elevated methanol levels can do in dry washing.

Methanol is the recommended solvent to clean out dry wash ion exchange columns. Because of this, if methanol levels in the Biodiesel are too high (much higher than 2%) before dry washing, the methanol can actually inhibit the exchange resins from doing their job. In otherwords, part of the soaps and glycerin will just sail right on past the dry wash media and straight into the finished fuel. It is for this reason that we highly recommend some sort of a demethylization process either before or after using an ion exchange dry wash system.

Recommended Methods For Removing Methanol
There are several ways to eliminate methanol from raw Biodiesel. Here's a few that we know work well.

1) The 5% Prewash Method
This method is the easiest to do and seems to work the best. It involves adding some water to the Biodiesel just before settling the glycerin out of the Biodiesel.

Here's how to do it:
A) Identify how much Biodiesel is in your main tank
B) Just before you turn off your mixer or pump from mixing the methoxide in, you add 5% by volume of water to the main tank.
C) Continue mixing for about 10-15 minutes
D) Turn off the mixer or pump and let it settle as normal

If you were making 50 gallons of Biodiesel, 50 x .05 = 2.5 gallons.
This means just before turning off the mixer you'd add 2 1/2 gallons of water to the processor and mix for about 10-15 minutes. Then let it settle as normal. Click here for more information on how it works

2) Air Bubbling
This method is simple. Just get an air bubbler of some sort, hook it to something that produces air, and bubble your Biodiesel for hours on end. The bubbling will help evaporate the Methanol out of the Biodiesel and soon you'll be methanol free
Air BubblerAir Bubbler
We carry bubblers, but an air compressor will work too.

3) Lots Of Time & Settling
If Biodiesel is allowed to settle long enough in an open container, a large portion of the Methanol will simply evaporate. It could take a while (depends on air temperature, humidity, etc) but it can happen.

Our Dry Washing Recommendation
If you're water washing your Biodiesel and it works; there's no need to go to a dry wash system. In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

However, if you're having a problem disposing of your wash water or if you need to speed up the process a little, then dry washing your Biodiesel may be the answer.

At it's best though, dry washing can only equal water a point. Water washing removes methanol, glycerin, and soaps. Dry washing misses the methanol so you're required to add another system in place to get the same results as water washing.

If you do choose to go with a dry washing solution, the solution that seems to be the most effective to date for small scale production is to use two towers in a lead/lag setup and put Eco2Pure media in the first tower and Thermax in the second tower. These two in combination seem to be delivering the best bang for the buck and working the best together.

Granted, it's still not perfect and you still will need to come up with a way to get rid of the methanol, but if you're bound & determined to go dry wash, Eco2Pure with Thermax is an excellent start!

If you'd like to learn more about dry washing Biodiesel, there's a whole section devoted to it on our favorite Biodiesel forum.
Click here to see the discussion area for dry washing
Customer Spotlights
We're somewhat biased, but we believe we have some of the greatest customers around.

Here's a few of the cool things some of our customers have been doing lately.

Thornridge High School Wins Coveted $50,000 Eco Challenge
Based in Dolton, Illinois, a group of students at Thornridge High School have won the coveted $50,000 grand prize in the Lexus Eco Challenge contest.
Thornridgeh High School wins 1st place
They competed with well over 500 other entries to win first place in this exciting contest. Their project was based on producing Biodiesel and included such things as powering their bubbler with solar panels, teaching students in other schools about Biodiesel and the benefits it brings, performing emission testing on diesel Mercedes, and many more parts that were part of the project.

You can see pictures and read about their exciting project at our Biodiesel Pictures Website. Click here to see more details about their exciting project

Student In Utah Wins Science Fair With Biodiesel Project
Zerina from the Salt Lake City area has one multiple awards including first place at her school, first place at district, and multiple awards at the state level for her Biodiesel science fair project.
Zerina wins first place with science fair project
Zerina's project was based on a hypothesis that different types of oils when made into Biodiesel would have different energy outputs as well as different gel point characteristics.

She visited with Utah Biodiesel Supply early on and we showed her what it takes to make Biodiesel from various oils. She then took it from there and did an amazing job that has garnered her several awards for her research.
Click here to read more about her exciting Biodiesel science fair project

Customer Makes 600 Bars Of Soap From Biodiesel Glycerin
Tim Wright of Utah has been extremely busy making bars of soap from all of his waste glycerin.
Making Soap
He used our Biodiesel Glycerin Soap Production Guide as a starting point and from there expanded his soap making fun into all sorts of bars....well over 600 to be exact.

Soap Bars Galore
From liquid soap, to bars of all colors and sizes, Tim's made more soap than most of us will ever seen in a lifetime.

We recently paid a visit to him while he was making a batch and captured some great images of the glycerin going from raw glycerin to bars of soap.
Click here to see our pictures of the soap making fun!

Got an exciting story you'd like to share? Send it in! We love hearing about your successes!
Titrations 101- A Refresher Course
If you've been making Biodiesel for a while, you probably know all about Titrating oil and how important it is. Since we're just at the start of the new brewing season we figured it was time for a refresher course on this important topic.

What Is A Titration?
A Titration is nothing more than a set of steps used to figure out how acidic oil is that you want to use to make Biodiesel. The reason we need to do it is so that we know how much catalyst (NaOH - Lye, or KOH - Potassium Hydroxide) to add to our methanol to make Biodiesel.

How Does It Work?
Titrations work by neutralizing the acid with a strong base. It's basically the same thing that happens when you make a volcano out of baking soda and lemon juice. The acid and the base neutralize each other.

In the case of titrations though, we have oil with an unknown amount of acid in it so we add measured amounts of base (our titration solution) to it and use a pH indicator (Phenol Red, Phenolphthalein, or Tumeric Powder) to tell us when the acid has been neutralized.

Want to learn more? Check out this video we made explaining titrations!
Video on how a Titration works

Why Do A Titration?
The reason titrations are so important is due to the fact that free fatty acids in oils will neutralize the catalyst into soap. This is bad because if too much of the catalyst gets neutralized then there's not enough catalyst left to react the oil into Biodiesel.

To deal with this, we measure just how much acid is in the oil by titrating it so that we can add enough EXTRA catalyst to
A) Neutralize the acids in the oil and
B) Still have enough left to react the oil into Biodiesel and
C) Not add too much catalyst, which is both wasteful of an expensive chemical but more importantly, if you add too much, you could react the whole batch of oil into soap. Not fun!

So What Happens If You Don't Add Enough Catalyst?
The acid in the oil begins to attack the catalyst FIRST and neutralizes a big chunk of it into soap. The left over catalyst then attempts to start reacting the oil into Biodiesel, but now there's only so much to go around and a lot of oil molecules don't ever have a chance to get reacted.

Long Answer Short:
You get left with unreacted oil in your Biodiesel. Not good since the goal is to convert the oil to Bidoiesel

How To Do A Titration
So, now that we've talked about what it is, how it works, and why you need to do it, let's talk about how to do it. Titrations are simple! First you'll need to make up some titration solution

Titration Solution Recipe
1 Add 1 liter of distilled water to a container
2 Measure out 1 gram of catalyst & add to the same jar
3 Shake it up until the catalyst is dissolved
Click here to see a video on making Titration Solution

Performing The Titration
1 Put 10 mL Isopropyl Alcohol in a small vial
2 Add 1 mL Oil to be titrated
3 Add 2-3 drops of pH Solution (Phenolphthalein, Phenol Red, Turmeric)
4 Shake it all up
5 Slowly add in titration solution until it turns color
6 Measure how much titration solution you added and record it
- This should be recorded in Milliliters
- This becomes your "titration value"
7 Do this 3 times and average the titration values together
Click here to see how to do an actual Titration
Click here to see another video of doing a Titration

Calculate The "Base" Amount
First off, identify what catalyst you used in your titration solution. Was it NaOH (Common Lye, Sodium Hydroxide) or KOH (Caustic Potash, Potassium Hydroxide)?

If NaOH, you'll use a base of 5.5
If KOH, you'll use a base of 7

Correct For Catalyst Purity
On the container your catalyst came in, identify what purity your catalyst is.
Common numbers are 90-92% for KOH and 95-98% for NaOH.
If unsure, use 90% to be safe.

Now, divide the base for your catalyst by how pure it is.
For example, if your KOH is 90% pure, then it would be 7/.90 (or 7.8).

The Titration Calculation
(Base + Amount used in step 6) x liters of oil = grams required

An Example:
50 Gallons of oil to be reacted into Biodiesel
Titration from step 6 was 5 milliliters
Using 90% Pure Potassium Hydroxide for your catalyst

Calculate the base. 7/.90 = 7.8
Calculate gallons into liters. 50 x 3.785 = 189.25 liters
Calculate the titration
(7.8+5) = 12.8 grams per liter
12.8 x 189.25 = 2422.4 Grams Required

I always round up, so the total grams of KOH required will be 2423.

Here's the formula in a quick & dirty format:
[(B/P) + T] x O = Grams of Catalyst Required
B = Base Amount
P = Catalyst Purity
T = Titration Value
O = Oil In Liters

There are 3.785 Liters in 1 gallon.

Want To See It In Action?
We've created several video's on titrations
Video On Building A Titration Kit
Video Explaining The Chemistry Behind Titrations
Video On Making Titration Solution
Video On Performing 3 Titrations

Need A Titration Kit? We've Got You Covered!
We carry 3 different Titration kits that can get you started with the right equipment in a hurry. Be sure to check them out today!

Biodiesel Titration KitsLink To Mini Titration Kit
- This kit comes with just the lab equipment. If you already have the chemicals, this one's perfect!
Video: Titrating With Our Mini Kit

Link To Basic Titration Kit
- This kit adds everything needed to do a basic titration with. You just add isopropyl alcohol, oil, and distilled water.

Link To Deluxe Titration Kit
- We add two glass flasks and our famous Porta Stirrer Magnetic Stirrer

And now you're all set! Get out there & start titrating!
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Graydon Blair
Utah Biodiesel Supply
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