Biodiesel Review published by Utah Biodiesel Supply
Newsletter 09
Summer Season For Brewing Biodiesel
Summer is here and most of you are probably in the thick of collecting oil, filtering it, and processing it into Biodiesel. As the season is now in full swing, we thought we'd share a few tips & tricks on making your Biodiesel even better. We also have a great history segment on Biodiesel processors through the years.

So whether you're just getting started or your an old pro at producing, we're sure to have something to help your processing go just a little better.

In This Issue
Testing Biodiesel For Soap Content
Sign Up For Our Email Notifications!
Evolution Of Do It Yourself Processors
Great Biodiesel Websites
Diesel Engine Updates
Testing Biodiesel For Soap Content
When Biodiesel is made, one of the by-products that gets produced along with the Biodiesel is soap. Typically, the amount of soap produced can be directly tied to how high the titration was, how wet the oil was to start with, or how much extra catalyst was used. Soap in Biodiesel is a contaminant and something that should be measured each time you make a batch to ensure that it's been effectively removed.

Why Is Soap Bad?
Soap in Biodiesel isn't good for your diesel on many counts. The main problem we see are plugged fuel filters. This is because soap tends to congeal on the fuel filter fibers which leads to reduced throughput which leads to a plugged fuel filter...and down time for your diesel. Next in line is that when soap is burned in a diesel engine it leaves behind an ash residue. This residue can manifest itself as higher levels of soot out the tailpipe or even build up on fuel injectors and combustion chamber. Basically things you don't want.

How Soap Is Formed
Soap is formed when free fatty acids in oils mix with water and catalyst (Sodium Hydroxide--NaOH or Potassium Hydroxide--KOH). Typically, the higher the free fatty acid level in oil the higher the soap content in the Biodiesel. This soap production issue is why we titrate waste vegetable oil--so that we can add enough extra catalyst to react the majority of the free fatty acids into soap and still have enough left over to react the remaining oil into Biodiesel.

How To Test For Soap
There are two popular tests for checking soap levels in Biodiesel. One, called The Shake Em Up Test, is a subjective test that can give you a good approximation of the soap content in Biodiesel. The other test, called The Soap Titration Test, is an extremely accurate objective test that will tell you exactly how many parts per million of soap are in your Biodiesel.

Test #1: The "Shake-Em Up" Test
This test is a subjective test that will indicate if you still have large amounts of soap left in your Biodiesel. It's a great test for checking to see if you're "getting close" to getting all the soap out. However, it's not an exact test and should only be used to give a "close approximation" of the level of soap in Biodiesel. Passing this test doesn't necessarily guarantee that the soap content in your fuel is at or below ASTM levels. A pass simply indicates that soap levels are significantly reduced.

How The Test Works
Distilled water is mixed into Biodiesel and then allowed to settle out.  As the water settles out the soap will cloud the water making it hazy and somewhat opaque. The test relies on the tester being able to see the difference between fresh, clear distilled water and water that may have absorbed soap. It is a highly subjective test and only gives an indicator that soap may be present. It does not indicate the "amount" of soap present in the Biodiesel.

Items Needed:
- Clean Glass Jar (at least 500 mL capacity)
- Distilled Water
- Biodiesel To Test

How To Perform The Test:
1) Fill a clean glass jar half-way full of Biodiesel
2) Fill the rest of the jar with distilled water
3) Cap the jar and shake it vigorously for about 10 seconds
4) Set the jar down and allow the water and Biodiesel to sit for about 30 min to 1 hour
5) Return and look at the water that's separated out.

Shake Em Up Test

Reading The Test:
If the water that settles out isn't as clear as the water that went in, then soap levels are still fairly high and the Biodiesel should continue to be washed further (in the picture above, the water on the bottom is still hazy and washing should continue).

If the water is as crystal clear as it was going in, there's a good chance that soap levels are low. It's now a good time to test with the Soap Titration Test to see what the exact soap levels are.

Test #2: The Soap Titration Test
This test is an objective test that when properly performed will allow you to measure soap levels in Parts Per Million (PPM). It can be used to successfully identify exactly how much soap is present in your Biodiesel and is an excellent test to use to ensure that the soap levels in your fuel are low enough to run in a diesel engine.

How The Test Works
The test works very close to how an oil titration test works except in reverse. Biodiesel is diluted in highly pure isopropyl alcohol, a pH indicated called Bromophenol Blue is added and everything is mixed up well causing the mixture to usually take on a bluish green tint.

Once mixed, small amounts of a very weak solution of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) is added in measured amounts. If soap is present in the Biodiesel, the acid will neutralize the soap and the pH indicator will change from a greenish blue to a yellow color. The amount of HCL used to neutralize the soaps in the Biodiesel is recorded and used to calcuate the soap levels in Biodiesel in parts per million (PPM).

Items Needed:
- Bromophenol Blue pH Indicator
- 99% Pure Isopropyl Alcohol
- Hydrochloric Acid 0.01 Normal (HCL)
- Magnetic Stirrer
- Graduated Glass Beaker Capable Of Holding 150 mL Liquid
- 2 Glass Pipettes (1 mL or 10 mL works best)
- Biodiesel To Test

How To Perform The Test:
1) Measure 100 mL 99% Pure Isopropyl Alcohol into glass beaker
2) Place the glass beaker on magnetic stirrer and begin stirring
2) Dissolve 10 mL of Biodiesel into the alcohol
2) Add 10-20 drops of Bromophenol Blue to tint the mixture and continue to mix
-- This may tint it to a greenish blue, completely blue, or even just a light green
3) Using a glass pipette, add measured amounts of HCL until the mixture turns yellow
4) Record the amount of HCL used to turn the mixture yellow
5) Calculate soap content

Calculating Soap Content:
Soap Calculation Multiplier:
- NaOH Reacted Biodiesel - 304
- KOH Reacted Biodiesel - 320
Times the amount of HCL required to turn the mixutre yellow by the multiplier. Example: 0.05 mL x 304 =  17 PPM (0.017%)

Acceptable ASTM Limits For Soap
- NaOH Reacted Biodiesel - No more than 41 PPM (0.041%)
- KOH Reacted Biodiesel - No more than 66 PPM (0.066%)

Reading The Test:
- If your fuel tests within the ASTM limits, congratulations!
- If your fuel is 100-200 PPM or less, it shouldn't pose any real risks to plugging fuel filters or to diesel engines.
- If your fuel is 200-300 PPM, it's really right on the edge of what you should be using
- If your fuel is 300-400 PPM, filter clogging may occur and soap content is getting high
- If your fuel is above 400 PPM, it really should be washed again to lower the soap content
- If your fuel is above 500, there's a good chance you'll see cloudy water in The Shake-Em Up Test

Video Example:
We have a great video example of how the Soap Titration Test can be performed. Click here to see the video!

Soap Titration Kit Available!
Soap Titration Test
This great test kit was specifically designed to give you accurate, repeatable results test after test. It's been extremely popular and will allow you to test Biodiesel for soap content with great accuracy.
Click here to learn more about our soap test kit.

Magnetic Stirrers Available
Magnetic StirrerStainless Steel Magnetic Stirrer
We stock two great magnetic stirrers that are ideal for doing soap titrations with! One has a black base with speed control, and the other has a stainless steel base with speed control. They also work great for doing oil titrations, mini test batches, and any other task where stirring in small quantities is necessary
Click here to see our black magnetic stirrer
Click here to see our stainless magnetic stirrer

Sign Up For Our Email Notifications!
Want to get the scoop on our latest products and exclusive customer appreciation sales? Want to hear about our latest video's? Then be sure to modify your subscription to be included on these great updates!

In May we offered an exclusive customer appreciation sale on our Raw Power Centrifuge with a discount of $200 off!

In June we offered an incredible half-off deal on our famous Biodiesel Workshop DVD Set, 1/2 off our Soap Making Book, and a huge sale on all our soap making equipment.

We're working on our next sale, so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!

How To Sign Up:
To sign up, simply click the button below, verify that the check boxes are clicked next to the following boxes:
- Utah Biodiesel Supply Newsletters
- New Products & Special Sales
- New Tutorial & Product Videos

It's that simple! Just click the box, ensure your signed up, and save your profile!
Join Our Mailing List
Evolution Of Do-It-Yourself Biodiesel Processors - Part 1
Over the next few newsletters, I'll be sharing the evolution of the various do-it-yourself Biodiesel processors that have come about since I became involved in Biodiesel in 2003. I've seen a lot of advances over the years &  thought it'd be fun to show just how far things have progressed.

What Is A Biodiesel Processor
At it's core, a Biodiesel processor needs to be able to mix heated oil, methanol, and catalyst together to react it into Biodiesel and glycerin. It can be as simple as a pan on a stove or as sophisticated as a fully automated Biodiesel processor such as a BioPro processor. The net effect is still the same. Mixing heated oil with methanol &catalyst to get Biodiesel.

And now on to the fun.....
Back in 2003, there wasn't many people really into Biodiesel. In Utah, you had to look REALLY HARD to even find anyone that even knew how to make it. Below is our first installment of where Biodiesel production was back when I got started.

Metal Drums
In 2003, I was introduced to making Biodiesel with this processing setup. It was comprised of a couple of metal drums, one for processing in, and one for washing in and believe it or not, it was actually on the "cutting edge" of do it yourself Biodiesel processors at that time.

Biodiesel Pictures OnlineBiodiesel Pictures Online

How It Worked
It involved heating up the oil with a fish tank heater, mixing the catalyst & methanol in a 5 gallon bucket, pouring the methanol mixture into the drum and mixing everything with a paint stirrer hooked to a drill.

While it was inherently dangerous (sparks from the drill could catch fire from the methanol fumes), it actually worked quite well.

After the glycerin settled to the bottom, the Biodiesel was pumped off the top into another drum where more heaters kept it warm while a garden hose attached to a spray nozzle showered down water onto the Biodiesel (sound familiar?).

The water would then be allowed to settle out and was pumped off the bottom with a pump attached to the drum. This process would be repeated a few times and then it was time for bubbling.
Biodiesel Pictures Online

A water bottle was weighted down with nuts & bolts (or whatever else was handy), air lines were attached, and tiny holes were poked into the bottle.
Biodiesel Pictures Online

This rudimentary bubbler was then lowered down into the barrel of Biodiesel being washed. Some of the water from washing would be left in the bottom of the drum for the bubbler to sit in and it would bubble away for a while (usually overnight).

After a while a sample of fuel would be pulled from the drum and tested with water to see if all the soap had been rinsed out.

This was known as the "Shake-Em Up Test" and still is used today as a rudimentary test to give an approximation of soap levels in finished fuel. Believe it or not, the water on the bottom of the jar above was deemed "finished and ready to be dried" however, we know today that it actually still has lots of soap in it.

Biodiesel Pictures Online
Once it passed the "Shake-Em Up Test", the fuel would then be set out in 5 gallon buckets in the hot sun to "dry out" from the water wash. A screen was placed on top of the buckets to keep the bugs out and the sun took care of the rest.

To see if the fuel was finished, a laser (yes, that really is a Craftsman laser level) was shot through the buckets to see how "dry" the fuel was.
Biodiesel Pictures Online
The theory went that if you could shine a laser through the Biodiesel and see it hitting the bottom of the bucket, there was a good chance the fuel was dry and ready to use.

Here's a shot of what it looked like all processed, washed & dried.
Biodiesel Pictures Online

Yep! Back in 2003, this was THE way to make Biodiesel! Grab yourself some drums, a paint stirrer, some heaters, a couple pumps & go to work!

While it looks rather rudimentary (and believe me, it was), it did get the job done and several thousands of gallons of Biodiesel were made all over the world this way by enterprising folks that wanted to get in on the fun. Back in the day there was even an old website similar to Biodiesel Pictures ( where many of us would post all of the different style processors that were being made (for those that were around back then, it was called the mighty Veggie Avengers website) much fun.

Want to see more of these drum style processors?
Check out more of the one above by clicking here
Here's another one of a similar design
And, click here to see several different styles of Biodiesel Processors.

More To Come!
About late 2003, an enterprising lady named Maria Alovert started to gain popularity among Biodiesel hobbyists due to a completely
different kind of Biodiesel processor that she nicknamed the "Appleseed Biodiesel Processor".

Tune in next time for more on that.....

Great Biodiesel Websites
We had this list of websites in our last newsletter and received such great response on it that we figured we'd share it again.....enjoy! (Highly Recommended)
This website is a treasure-trove of knowledge for the budding Biodiesel producer or for the experience brew master. It contains insightful articles on just about every aspect of producing Biodiesel, has a really nice photo gallery, an exceptional set of video's, and a forum that's well balanced and laid out. Think of it like the old Collaborative Biodiesel Tutorial on steroids.

Not only are the articles well laid out, but they're chalked full of high-quality information on how to make Biodiesel. We're quickly becoming a huge fan of this place and refer customers to it many times a week.
The author of ran across this great website and shared it with us. It looks to be a somewhat dated, but incredibly thorough page on making Biodiesel with content contributed by none other than world renowned Dr. Jon Van Gerpen; one of Biodiesel's Godfathers as far as I'm concerned.

Much of the information presented in the exceptional National Renewable Energy Lab's document Biodiesel Handling And Use Guidelinesalso shows up here as well. Great stuff!

Glycerin Burners
Got glycerin? Want to burn it? Then make this website one of your stops! Lyle Rudensey a.k.a. BioLylesent this one our way. He said that he has a customer that bought one of these ingenious burners and is now burning their glycerin. As in crude, methanol laden, unrefined glycerin; burning great and giving off lots of heat! Yep! We thought that sounded cool too!

Looking to go big time with your soap making adventures? Then you'll want to pay a visit to this site. They have the absolute largest selection of soap making equipment and supplies I've ever seen. From the small stuff to the big, commercial grade soap making pots to video's on how to use half their stuff, they've got it all! This place is mecca for soap makers! If you're looking for really cool supplies, looking to go big, or just want some cool ideas on how to further the craft of soap making, then you've gotta stop by!

No Freeze Water Hose
Looking to water wash your Biodiesel in the cold but the pesky hose keeps freezing on you? Then stop by this nifty site to learn about a heated hose (Yep! You read right! A garden hose with a heater in it! How's that for cool!) A customer tipped us off to this one and we were really impressed!

Diesel Power Magazine
Diesel Power magazine is like candy for diesel nuts; which means I've been eating a lot of it lately. The site is the online presence to their kick butt magazine on diesels. They cover everything from modding up your older diesel pickup to customizing the latest diesel trucks around. They also have a great tech section on their site as well where they talk about every type of problem you might encounter under the sun and how to fix it.
Here's the link to the tech section:
I refer people to this site all the time for tips & tricks on getting the most out of their rig. They even cover Biodiesel from time too!

US Energy Information Administration
This website is run by the US Department of Energy. They monitor diesel fuel prices, gasoline prices, and just about every other consumable energy price in the US. Want to know how much oil the US imported by week? by month? by year? by county? by region? Yep! It's all there! I use their kick butt graphs to stay on top of what the going price of diesel fuel is doing for any given week (Hint: it's on the rise again). They also have a cool article that explains how diesel prices are set in the US, what influences them as well as what is built into the price. Great stuff!

Government Track on H.R. 4213
(Biodiesel Tax Incentive Bill)
This link tracks the status of the current HR 4213 Biodiesel Tax Incentive Bill that so many of the commercial Biodiesel producers depend on to produce Biodiesel at a profit. As of 3/10/2010, the bill has passed both the House and the Senate. Follow the link for details.

Piedmont Biofuels ASTM D6751 Analysis
Rachel Burton of Piedmont Biofuels, put together this incredible document that breaks down the BIodiesel ASTM standard piece by piece. It discusses each test method, why it's there, how to perform the test, and what the results may indicate. It also discusses several tests that a home brewer can use that are close to the ASTM methods. This is an excellent resource to have on hand if you're trying to hit the ASTM specification! Highly recommended!
Diesel Engine Updates
Mahindra is all but dead....
- Seems Mahindra and their US distribution partner are at each others throats over the forth coming Mahindra diesel pickup. It was supposed to be release in 2008, then 2009, and now it may not even make it to 2010. Read more here....

Ford's New Engine Is B20 Compliant
- A few months back we announced that Ford's new 2011 Powerstroke Diesel engine would be B20 Compliant. Looks like that's still the case and their dang proud of it! What with a B20 logo mounted right on the side of the door of all their new trucks. Read more about their engine here... P.S. Be careful if you test drive one... You'll leave wanting one REALLY bad. We hear the motor is incredible!!!

GM's New Duramax Engine Is Also B20 Compliant
- Chevy's new 2011 Duramax is also B20 compliant, although they're not bragging about it as much on their doors emblems. That said, horsepower and torque ratings on the new Duramax are impressive! Even beating out Ford! Read more about the engine here..

Dodge Cummins Still B5 Compliant (Kind Of)
- Dodge Cummins warranty still only supports up to B5 on their non-fleet diesel vehicles. However, if you're lucky enough to get a fleet truck, they'll warrant B20 in the tank as well. Read more about the mighty Cummins here...

2008 Duramax WITH DPF on Biodiesel Update
We have a customer that's been experimenting with running Biodiesel in higher blends in their Duramax diesel engine. The verdict? So far, so good. The customer is heavily monitoring how many times the engine regenerates (it's less than on diesel fuel by the way), is watching his oil levels like a hawk, and will be sending oil samples in to get tested. We'll keep you updated in future newsletters as we hear more but so far, it's looking pretty good!

Ford 6.0 Liter Diesel Engines (not terribly Biodiesel friendly)
I've heard horror stories from several customers about these engines over the years. Everything from fuel injectors & fuel pumps failing ON DIESEL FUEL to stories of the cabs having to be pulled just to have them worked on. Recently, I wanted to get a feel for just how bad it was, so I started a forum post on the Infopop Biodiesel Forum to gather feedback from people with 6.0 liter engines. The quick answer? Yep! Still one heck of a finicky engine, but if you're careful about your fuel quality, you CAN run on Biodiesel. Your results may vary.

Among the big 3 (GM, Ford, & Cummins), the Cummins engines (pre-emission versions) seem to handle Biodiesel the best. Behind that would be the venerable Ford 7.3 liter followed by the Duramax diesel engine. All 3 of these great engines have been shown to handle Biodiesel in high blends extremely well over the years and people continue to rack up the miles on them.

As always, fuel quality is paramount in the newer direct injection models, as the tolerances in the fuel system are tighter, but if you're careful with the fuel you make, test the heck out of it, and make sure it's well filtered, you probably will see similar results. Long live Biodiesel & keep it brewing!

As a side note....
we recently picked up a new (to us anyway) diesel engine vehicle. It's an old 1985 Mercedes 300SD with the venerable 5 cylinder "bullet proof" diesel engine.

So far, it absolutely loves Biodiesel and seems to be eating it without any problems. It definitely smoothed out the idle and the smell of bar-b-que coming out the tailpipe is great!

Now if we could just get Mahindra to get with it, we'd be set!
Thanks for being a part of the Biodiesel Review family! We hope you enjoyed this issue.

Do you have a topic you'd like to see covered in future issues? We're always looking for cool topics to cover here so send in your idea! Send it to with the subject line NEWSLETTER SUGGESTION.
Graydon Blair
Utah Biodiesel Supply
Visit Us
On The Web!
Biodiesel Review - An online newsletter for the Biodiesel enthusiast!

We have the largest selection of Biodiesel equipment, supplies, promotional items, tutorials, and videos available anywhere on the web!

Stop by today and see all the exciting things we have to offer!

Visit Us Today!
Quick Links
Visit Our Main Site
Video Tutorials
Getting Started
Quality Testing
Articles Index
Past Newsletters
Contact Us!

Join Our Mailing List