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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the more common biodiesel questions we are asked:

How do I calculate the amount of methanol for biodiesel?

We have a calculator on our website that assists in this here. It also describes how the amount is determined.

How do I make biodiesel from waste vegetable oil?

Making biodiesel from waste vegetable oil is very similar to making biodiesel from other feedstocks, with the exception that waste vegetable oil might have more free fatty acids (FFAs) than other fuels and so may need to be tested more beforehand. A step-by-step description of our process of making biodiesel from waste vegetable oil can be found in our quality control plan here.

How do I perform a biodiesel titration?

There are two types of biodiesel titration: the acid number titration (for the oil feedstock as well as the fuel) and the soap titration. We have video tutorials on both of these procedures under "Production/Videos" here.

How do I start a biodiesel business?

There are a lot of considerations for starting a biodiesel small business, and we have a page of resources for those interested in it here.

How much does biodiesel equipment cost?

Biodiesel equipment costs vary widely depending on plant size and capacity. Unfortunately, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach of determining how much a biodiesel plant will cost. For a breakdown of the equipment we use in our biodiesel production process, check out our quality control plan.

What feedstocks can I use to make biodiesel?

If it's oily, there's a good chance you can make biodiesel out of it. Our program has had success making biodiesel out of canola, soybean, waste vegetable oil/used cooking oil, trap grease, algae, sunflower, pond scum, castor oil, corn oil, jatropha, avocado, coffe grounds, karanja, candlenut, croton, fly guts, and many more. Check out some of our feedstock experiences here or some biodiesel feedstock properties here.

What effect does biodiesel have on engines?

Biodiesel is a drop in fuel; it can be used in any diesel engine with no engine modifications. There are, however, a few storage and handling considerations. Biodiesel is a very clean fuel, but petroleum diesel leaves sediments behind in an engine. When biodiesel is first introduced, it may dissolve these sediments, which may in turn end up in the fuel filter. Fortunately, the problem only occurs until biodiesel is finished cleaning up the fuel tankā€”it just means that the fuel filter may need to be changed when the fuel is first introduced. Biodiesel may also be hard on some older hoses and gaskets. Biodiesel cloud point is higher than that of petroleum, so during the cold winter months the fuel may need to be additized or blended with diesel. However, overall biodiesel adds lubricity and keeps your engine cleaner than petroleum diesel. We have a storage and handling biodiesel technote here and a companion technote snippet video here.

How do I pretreat a High FFA Feedstock?

There are a few high FFA feedstock treatment options outlined in our technote here. We also have a video that assists with some of the math, and a technote snippet video for a visual.

How do I measure glycerides in the fuel?

A Gas Chromatograph (GC) is used to measure glycerides in the fuel, though High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) can also be used. For more information, chech out our technotes here.

What catalyst should I use in the biodiesel reaction?

There are lots of catalyst options for biodiesel production, but our program has had success with sodium methoxide, potassium hydroxide, and sodium methylate.