Biodiesel Review published by Utah Biodiesel Supply
May 2011
Never A Better Time For Biodiesel  
With diesel prices over $4 a gallon across most of the United States right now, there's never a better time for brewing your own Biodiesel! Whether it's on a small scale or a large operation, the savings gleaned from making your own fuel have never made more sense than now.

In this issue we'll be covering tips & tricks for troubleshooting Biodiesel batches, showing off a few new products, and sharing some exciting news about the upcoming Collective Biofuels Conference!
In This Issue
Upcoming Biodiesel Events
Troubleshooting Biodiesel Batches
New Products At Utah Biodiesel Supply
Stay On Top Of Biodiesel
Biodiesel Production Tip
Diesel Engine Updates
Upcoming Biodiesel Events
 Collective Biofuels Conference

Learn More By Clicking Here

This is THE conference to attend!

(We're even going!!!) 

You'll have a chance to...

Meet fellow Biodieselers.

Learn from the Biodiesel production pro's!

Network with fellow Biodieselers from all over the world.

Pick up new tips & tricks to improve your Biodiesel.

 Meet the movers & shakers in the industry

Make lots of new friends.

And Have A Ton Of Fun
At the Same Time!!

Get a feel for what the conference is like!  

Visit The Collective Biodiesel Conference  

Past Presentations Website

2009 Presentations   2008 Presentations

2007 Presentations       2006 Presentations

Utah Biodiesel Supply
will be presenting at the conference
as well as mingling with the rest of the crowd.


Register Today!

Early Bird Registration Rates are available

through May 31st, 2011


Once you've signed up,  

be sure to check out  

the Conference Travel Tips Page  

on the best ways to get there and the  

Ride Share Board to travel to and from the conference  

fellow conference participants.


We'll See You There!

Troubleshooting Biodiesel Batches

-by Graydon Blair, Utah Biodiesel Supply 


When making Biodiesel, one of the things that can creep up & get you is the strange things that can happen to batches of Biodiesel from one batch to the other. Everything can be going fine and then out of no where something really strange happens. We hear about it all the time and figured we'd share some of the tricks we use to help people troubleshoot a trouble-some batch of the good stuff.


How To Troubleshoot A Batch

1) Write Down Everything You Know About The Batch

Record on a piece of paper everything you can about the batch. Things we recommend include:

- Where did the oil come from?

- What did it titrate at?

- What was the water content? (or, was it wet?)

- Was it dewatered?

- How much catalyst was used?

- How much methanol was used?

- How hot was the oil before catalyst was added?

- How long was the oil mixed with catalyst & methanol for?

- How long did it settle?

- Did it pass a Biodiesel Conversion 27/3 Test?

- If washed, did it pass a Shake-Em Up test or a Soap Titration Test?


Also, ALWAYS keep a sample of the oil you're reacting in a small jar until the batch is successful. You'll never know when you may run into something strange and having access to the original oil to run some tests on will be absolutely vital.  


2) Look At The Variables & Look For Possible Issues

Once you've recorded what you know about the batch, it's time to go back & systematically rule things out. I always start from the very start of the process and work forward until I can pinpoint what it might be. If I get a few idea's, I start testing to prove that theory.


Here's an example of how I approach it. 

Waste Vegetable Oil 

- If the oil came from the same source, was there something different about how it was collected? Did it look different? If so, what was it that was different?

- If you suspect something strange about the oil, test the sample you put in reserve. Retitrate it. Test it for water content. Make a mini batch out of it. If everything checks out, then you can move to the next step.


Water In The Oil 

- Water content should be no higher than 1500 PPM (0.15%) before using it to make Biodiesel.  

- You can still make high quality Biodiesel if the oil is wet, but it will require a little more work

- If your oil is wet and it was reacted into Biodiesel, there's a good chance that it can fail the Biodiesel Conversion 27/3 Test

- If you fail this test, reprocess your Biodiesel. I recommend using reprocessing with 30% of the original catalyst & methanol initially used

- Be aware that water will also tend to make a lot of soap so when water washing batches of Biodiesel that were re-processed, go easy on the first couple mist washes otherwise an emulsion can occur

Old Or Contaminated Catalyst (NaOH or KOH) 

- Check your catalyst for large clumps (they indicate it's absorbing moisture or water has leaked in)

- Check the strength of your catalyst

- Use this cool method for making sure it's still potent 

- If your catalyst is over a year old and it's been opened before, there's also a chance it could be going bad

- If it's bad, dispose of it and get new catalyst

- Contaminated or weak catalyst tends to cause poor reactions (Fail 27/3 tests) and also contributes to more soap production.  

- Poor conversion with lots of soap made can again mean emulsions during washing

- Anecdote: About a year ago we were struggling with emulsions in our Biodiesel. The oil was good, titration solution was good, everything was working right, but we kept getting soap (even though we'd pass a 3/27 test). Finally, we bought new catalyst & the problem went away. We determined that even though there weren't any clumps in the catalyst, it had somehow gone bad. It was well over a year old and had always been sealed, but somehow it had still gone bad. So, moral of the story, if there's clumps or if it's over a year old, get new catalyst.  


Titration Solution 

- Check your titration solution to ensure it's not expired.

- Titration solution should be changed every 90 days, if not sooner.

- If the lid has been left open or it's been left in the sun, change it even sooner than that

- As titration solution goes bad, it will take more to turn the oil pink and can make it look like the oil is worse than it really is.

- After making new titration solution, retitrate the oil sample and see if the titration goes down 

- If this occurs, and you had made a batch based off the higher titration number, it means you may have added too much catalyst. All that extra castalyst can end up making lots of extra soap, which can also lead to emulsions during washing

- Like above, go easy on the first few mist washes to keep the emulsion from occurring

Titration Method
- Is your titration method outdated?
- 5.5 is the base for NaOH, 7.0 is the base for KOH
- Adjust either one for the purity of your chemical
- ie. 5.5/chemical purity (say 90%) makes new base 6.1
- Learn the basics of how to properly titrate here
- Also, be sure to use clean vials, syringes, and solution

Contaminated Methanol
- If your oil, titration & catalyst check out, it might be worth checking your methanol (especially if you're using recovered methanol)
- Methanol can absorb moisture quite readily, which can make it wet, which can lead to poor Biodiesel reactions and soap production
- If you suspect yours might be contaminated, pick up a methanol test kit & check it for purity with a hydrometer

Poor Mixing & Poor Heat
- Biodiesel should be mixed for about 2-3 hours between 130-140 Deg. F (54.5 - 60 Deg C)
- Don't mix it long enough, or if the oil isn't hot enough, it can lead to a poor reaction (flunk a Biodiesel Conversion 27/3 Test)
- Heat the oil past 148.5 Deg. F (64.7 C), and too much methanol can boil off
- If you determine this is the case, just reprocess it with the proper mixing time and at the proper temperature

Emulsions During Washing
- Caused by many of the things above, emulsions can be cured using vinegar, salt water, or glycerin
- I prefer using Salt Water as it's cheap, effective, and will wash back out fairly easily
- See our article on emulsions for details on breaking them

Cloudy Biodiesel After Washing
- If the fuel hasn't been dried, this is normal, just dry the fuel
- Normal, wet Biodiesel looks kind of like the color and consistency of orange juice
- If the fuel has been dried and it's still cloudy perform a soap test on it
- If it flunks a soap test, re-wash it and re-dry the fuel

It's Something Else....
- While we've tried to include many of the common issues we've seen, making Biodiesel involves quite a few variables; some of which we can control and others which we can't
- With a systematic approach, you should be able to pinpoint most issues.
- However, if you can't, give us a call or shoot us an email and we'd be happy to help you trouble-shoot that strange batch
- You can reach us by phone or via email (see our contact us page)
- We check emails every day of the week except Sunday and our office phone is available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday from 9am to 5:30 PM Mountain Time. If we don't pick up, just leave a message and your phone number. We try to return all calls.

There are also several online resources available as well:

- Our Quality Testing Page
- Our Articles Index Page (every article we've written is linked here)
- Infopop Biodiesel Forum (Lots of sections, post away!)
- Yahoo Biodiesel Forum (requires joining the group)
- website (awesome resource!)
- Let Google be your friend! Verify any information found on "the internet" though! There's a lot of great stuff, but there's lot of junk too.

Part of the fun of making Biodiesel can be the learning process that goes with it. I've heard of just about every crazy thing out there that can or will go wrong with a batch (bacteria in the oil, catalyst not dissolving, lightning strike, you name it), so if you're stumped, give us a call. There's a chance we've probably ran across the problem, or have a good idea of what might be causing it.

Happy Brewing!

New Products At Utah Biodiesel Supply

Check out the latest crop of cool,  

new products recently released!

Portable Whirlybird Centrifuge - 4 Bucket   

4-Bucket Whirlybird CentrifugeThis little centrifuge is great for spinning out samples of Biodiesel, glycerin, water, or anything requiring quick settling action!

We stocked a 2 bucket one for a few years that was very popular but are now proud to introduce a 4 bucket model!

The metal buckets can hold 15 mL centrifuge tubes or you can remove the buckets and use larger tubes as well.

The centrifuge easily attaches to a desk, board, or other solid object and is easy to operate by cranking the handle. It can be used with 2 or 4 tubes at a time and can spin samples up to 3,000 RPM! Get yours today!

 Click Here to Learn More! 

 Biodiesel Compatible Fuel Filters 

Biodiesel Compatible Fuel Filters 

We've teamed up with one of our vendors to bring you these great Biodiesel compatible fuel filters!

They easily attach using our 3/4" sized fuel filter mount and can be attached to pumps, tanks, fuel dispensers, or anywhere where filtration of Biodiesel is required.

The filters are rated at 10 micron and can handle up to 18 GPM of flow with up to 50 psi working pressure.

They're available in single or multi packs and can be purchased with or without a mount. We use these on our BioPro and love them!

Click Here To Learn More! 

 ArborPure Dry Wash Tower 

ArborPure Dry Wash Tower   

Dry Wash With Cellulose Media!


Tired of water washing? Don't want to deal with dry washing resins? Then it might be time to give ArborPure a try! We introduced this great hard wood, kiln-dried wood shaving dry washing product a while back and it's been a big success!  


We're now excited to introduce a dry wash tower specifically designed for use with ArborPure and other hard-wood media.  

With it's specially designed plunger, it's uniquely suited to the needs of using and removing cellulose dry wash media!


Available individually or as a complete turnkey setup.

Click Here To Learn More!


Stay On Top Of Biodiesel
Keep up with all the news in Biodiesel! 

Want to stay up on what's going on in Biodiesel? Then be sure to sign up for our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

We share lots of great Biodiesel information, diesel engine related news, new products, upcoming events, and customer success stories (plus answer lots of questions) right on our Facebook page! You'll learn something new every time you visit!

Here's a sampling of some of the cool recent stories we've covered on our Facebook page:
Harvesting Biodiesel From Leftover Food
Commercial Biodiesel From Palm Oil
Gourmet Biodiesel With A BioPro
How Biodiesel Ages: Sediment, ULSD, and More
Customer BioPro Spotlight By Local News Crew
Whitney High School Wins $50K Eco-Prize With Biodiesel
Dog Patch Biodiesel Fuel Station

Find us on Facebook 

We also regularly post video's on our YouTube channel devoted to helping you stay on top of your Biodiesel game! Everything from the latest on Biodiesel & feedstock pricing, cool, new products, and awesome tutorials on how to make Biodiesel and all the fun that surrounds it. Visit today!

View our videos on YouTube 

Check out a sample of one of our latest video's that explains the in's & out's of why it's important to titrate vegetable oil when making Biodiesel.
Why We Titrate Vegetable Oil (WVO) For Biodiesel
Why We Titrate Vegetable Oil (WVO) For Biodiesel

Visit Us Today!

Biodiesel Production Tip!

Titration Solution
Change Your Titration Solution Every 90 Days

Titration solution used for titrating waste vegetable oil for Biodiesel production should be changed every 90 days to ensure it's still potent.


Potassium Hydroxide and Sodium Hydroxide titration based solutions have been shown to deteriorate and lose potency with age. If not freshened, your titrations can slowly start increasing and can lead to using too much catalyst which can cause problems down the road.  


To make Titration Solution, simply mix 1 liter of distilled water with 1 gram of either Sodium Hydroxide or Potassium Hydroxide. Be sure to use an accurate scale when measuring out the gram of catalyst too! If it's off, it will throw off the accuracy of all your titrations. 

Diesel Engine Updates

Cummins & Nissan Partnership

Cummins, Nissan, and the US Federal Government have teamed up on a project to study the feasibility of creating a 4 cylinder, US EPA compliant diesel engine for light duty trucks that can get upwards of 30 miles per gallon! Hopefully it'll be Biodiesel compatible too!


Mahindra EPA Mileage Estimates: Not Good!

The EPA finished testing the Mahindra diesel pickup that's supposedly supposed to be "on sale sometime this year" and the figures were terrible!! 19 city / 21 highway. While it is a 4WD drive with all the latest Tier II Bin 5 EPA emission equipment installed, Mahindra (and the rest of the United States) was hoping for much better numbers. However, this still is "the truck that never was" as Mahindra still hasn't said when it will be available for sale in the United States.


Other Diesel News

Apparently, Ford and GM both have smaller diesel engines currently sitting in mothballs waiting for the economy to recover before they continue work on them. Word has it that they both were incredible engines during initial testing! Time will tell if they'll ever see the light of day (or if they'll be Biodiesel compatible).    

Hear some great diesel news? Send it our way & we'll share it here!

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
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