Biodiesel Cookbook And Road Map

By James E. Miller
Partner, Green Oxy Fuels, LL
February 22, 2005


1.1.A small experimental laboratory will be designed to process waste vegetable oils and animal fats into biodiesel (B100) and its co-product, glycerol. This experimental laboratory will be housed in an office trailer approximately 25 feet long, by eight feet wide and seven feet tall. This pilot project will be the equivalent to a 1/10th scale for the production model.

1.2.The proposed projection model will consist of a dual rear axle semi-tractor, a 3000 gallon fifth-wheel tank trailer in tandem to the tractor, followed by a semi-cargo van trailer approximately eight feet wide, 48 to 53 feet long and eight to nine feet high. The step of the van of about ten feet would house a small, mobile testing laboratory and the balance of the van would contain the production facilities.

1.3.The process of transesterifiation of the waste oils is well understood in the scientific community. Here, the science is applied to produce a viable small, entirely portable production facility. The unit will serve several tank farms in major Montana cities. The local operators will gather waste oil in a small tank truck, the deposit the feedstock in a 5000 gallon holding tank in the tank farm. The mobile unit will, on a round-robin basis, visit the tank farm in each city, convert the feed stock to B100 and glycerol, and continue to the next stop.

1.4.The glycerol will be refined into 99.5% USP glycerine, the design for which is also included in this project. Both projects will require a small testing laboratory, the design which is part of this project.

1.5. As a result of this project is to provide the basis for an application for funding[funding needed] of the production project. All three elements will be funded by a grant from USDA, EPA DOT a private foundation or some combination thereof. This project will build in the research conducted pursuant to Project 14, Cookbook For Pilot Biodiesel Production Plant And Laboratory. Working drawings, the revised cookbook and the updated road map will be the deliverables.


2.1. Transesterification Process “With care and practice, biodiesel can be produced on-farm using a variety of oils as feedstocks. Farmers can produce their own fuel for tractors and other farm equipment from their own oilseeds or from waste fryer oil collected in neighboring communities. For small-scale production, Joshua Tickell’s book From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank (3) offers clear, step-by-step production instructions. His associated website <> offers information and discussion forums among small-scale producers, many of whom are making fuel for their personal vehicles. For those who wish to press their own oilseeds, ATTRA’s Small-scale Oilseed Production publication contains useful information about generating the raw oil.”

In organic chemistry, transesterification is the process of exchanging the alkoxy group of an ester by another alcohol. These reactions are often catalyzed by the addition of an acid or base.

             O                       O
             ||                      ||
             C - CH3  +  ROH <--->   C - CH3  + CH3OH
            /                       /
        CH3O                      RO
        (ester  +  alcohol   <--->  different ester  +  different alcohol)

Acids can catalyse the reaction by donating an electron to the alkoxy group, thus making it more reactive, while bases can catalyse the reaction by removing an electron from the alcohol, thus making it more reactive. .

2.2.Batch plants:

From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel, 3rd ed. 2000. By Joshua Tickell. Tickell Energy Consulting, Tallahassee, FL. 162 p.;

National Biodiesel Board, Biodiesel Production:

2.3. Research Notes. Research Notes for BioDiesel, Revision 3.9, Last Updated On April 2, 2004; By Rick Pelletier, 1999 (And Beyond);


3.1.Literature survey. Two major literature surveys have been conducted regarding the transesterification process. The science is well known and lab test by creditable scientists. Many “home brew” operations have published their methods of transesterification. Large producers do not make any of their technology available. Design and build chemical process engineering firms are available to design a system from bottom-up, but at a prohibitive cost. Additional sources will be re-examined, including USDA, DOE and the National Biodiesel Board.

3.2.Design. The design will first consider the inputs, both in terms of quanities and qualities. Filtration standards and methods will be examined and set. Chemicals used include ethanol and a base. The best solution will be derived, giving consideration to cost, availability, efficiency of processing and safety and environmental issues. The batch processing equipment will then be determined, designed and sourced.

3.3.Peer Review. The design will be peer reviewed by senior scientists who are specialists in the field of Biodiesel production. USDA, Iowa State and University of Idaho at Moscow have such personnel.

3.4.Rerport. The cookbook and road map will be developed as the research progresses. The cookbook will be the principal repository of the research and design while the road map will be the repository of the business plan.


4.1. Montana DEQ: Regulatory requirements will be examined and forms filled in for a “pilot plant” and submitted to DEQ. The regulations and forms are found at:


MT DEQ - Air Quality Permit Application for Stationary Sources


The research concerning transesterification is partially completed. The remaining research into the process is continuing and will culminate in the construction of the experimental laboratory prior to March 1, 2005 with production planned for April 1, 2005, testing completed by April 15, 2005, and report completed by May 1, 2005.


The project will be under the general supervision of Dr. xxxx. Other faculty members and senior chemical, mechanical, industrial and biological engineering students will be sought who can provide consulting for the design phase.


LABELS. Label all drums, pipes, filters and color code all plumbing. Place safety signs where appropriate. Publish and post safety directives. Provide for fire extinguishers and protective clothing and personal gear.

STEP 1: Obtain waste vegetable oil (20 gal per run) -> 55. gallon steel Drum A -> transfer pump -> ball valve -> Filters (Bank of three, with removable cartridges: 100 micron, 20 micron, 5 micron) -> ball valve -> 55 gal. steel Drum B with one-way vent ->

Step 2: Apply heat to bottom of Drum B by using propane burner to drive out moisture, cool -> add ethanol, mix -> transfer to Reaction Vessel E.

Step 3: Place 10 gal. of dry ethanol -> separate 30 gal. steel Drum C.

Step 4: Place 5 lbs of Sodium hydroxide (or potassium hydroxide) into 30 gal. Drum D, mix until all ingredients are dissolved.

Step 5: Transfer 10+ gal. of ethanol/hydroxide mix from Drum C, to -> to Reaction Vessel E. Transfer __ gal. of oil/ethanol from Drum B to Reaction vessel E. Heat contents of Reaction Vessel E to 132 degrees F for 2 hours, while mixing. Cool to room temperature and stand for 24 hours.

Step 6. Find lower boundary of upper diesel material and draw off biodiesel to clean 55 gal. Drum F. Use suction hose and wand with transfer pump to transfer the material.

Step 7: Deposit balance (glycerol) into 55 gal. Drum G. Use suction hose and wand with transfer pump to transfer the material.

Step 8. Heat Drum F to vaporize ethanol and recover ethanol using distillation device, Distiller H -> Drum C.

Step 9: Using 5 gallon cans, set aside 5 gallons from each run. Do about ten runs.

Step 10: Test each run using ASTM D6751-03A. Pick the five best runs and take equal parts from each run and combined into two gallon plastic bottle and send to Magellan Analytical Services.

Records: Record each step of each run in a journal. Record each step of each test in a journal.

Analysis: Using Excel, create tables and charts of the test results of each run and the combined sample to be sent to Magellen. Run mean, sample variance and standard deviation lines for the test results. Explain any outliers.

Offer MSU the opportunity to use the biodiesel in MSU vehicles as a blending agent for petro diesel.


8.1.Mobile laboratory: Testing per ASTM D6751.03 would take place in a mobile laboratory mounted on in the forward section of the van. This lab will test each batch so that it can be determined if it complies or should be recycled.

8.2.Stationary testing: As a precaution, an independent laboratory will be chosen to run back-up tests of product found by the mobile lab to be in compliance.

8.3.EPA: EPA compliance will be undertaken in accordance with the National Biodiesel Board and applicable state and federal regulations.


Federal and state taxes will be collected at the point of sale to customers intending to use the B100 on highway related engines.


10.1. Local Sales: Local sales will be conducted by the local operator from a finished tank located in the tank farm. Metering will comply with Montana law. Deliveries in 55 gal drums and 250 gal. Tote tanks will be also be offered by each local operator.

10.2. Distant Sales: Sales out of the local production area will be handled by Green Oxy Diesel as a primary seller, and a small commission back to the local operator. Commercial carriers will transport the biodiesel.

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