Dewatering systems

Collecting, filtering and dewatering of WVO SVO vegetable oil. For Biodiesel producers too.

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Dewatering systems

Postby John Galt » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:04 pm

This discussion is for the various methods people use to remove water from VO.

This is the method I use:
http://www.burnveg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9
Last edited by John Galt on Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:47 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby froggo » Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:33 am

Hi John,

do you have problems with water in the diesel that you buy?

Several years ago it was a big issue around here. These outlets are now closed and the new operators have installed poly tanks which has fixed the problems.

We are all concerned about the water in our wvo but does anyone know if the dino diesel they use is up to standard?

God bless froggo
I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it!

HJ45 Landcruiser, 2 tank wvo homemade system.
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Postby David » Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:22 am

Hi Froggo,

I saw a question you were asking on the other forum that has recently become full of overnight experts that preach a lot but know very little. On the issue you were asking about there and I suspect referring to here, what they are all missing ( and please don't bother telling them) is that Diesel is incapable of holding water in the way that WV O can. Water cannot be disolved into Diesel in the way it can in WVO because Dino simply repels it and it drops out. That is why the filters will work in a very different way. They are designed to get water out of diesel which can only be free water, not dissolved water.

It's easy to do the test, get some water and dino and shake it up and see how quick the water drops out of the dino. You could also do aq HP test the next day and see how much water is still in the dino you take from the top.

You are quite right in what you say, removing suspended water is one thing and free water is quite something else. Pity they don't realise that too :roll:

My drying is done by simply using a jet of oil under high pressure squirted back into itself to induce a jet of air bubbles through the oil which bubble up through it evaporating the water. In a batch of my " normal oil" as gathered from the variety Of places I get it, I dry 150L in 3 hours.
There was some talk of HP tests only indicating water in the oil of 1% or less. Again, these people with little practical experience and having done no testing or experimenting themselves may indeed have that.

Pretty much from the start, my HP tests were always based on heavily smoking oil and a pool of it not a smudge on the pan and an amount poured into the pan not just giving only a few bubbles, but having no determinable effect in the oil pool at all other than some heat mirages. I have read you can get false positives. I have not experienced that. I believe when the oil is just below self ignition temp and there are no bubbles as I add a generous qty ( without adding so much as to cool the oil pool but easy to see any reaction) then the oil IS sufficiently dry not to cause any damage to my engine faster than it is going to wear out on its own accord.

When drying oil, I also don't believe that the finished product will be any wetter when drying it in Humid weather than what it will be at any other time. It may However dry slower due to the inability of the air to take up any more moisture but if the oil passes a HP test at 200o+, then it is as dry as oil that was processed at 20% humidity.

I Also disagree with the concern about air drying making the oil polermise. In my tests and experience, It is necessary for water to be present for WVO to polymerize with enough speed to be of any concern to the use we are putting it to unless, possibly, you want to store the stuff for 10 years.
If you quickly remove all the water, any polermerisation the air induces over that short time, is going to be of such a small % that it is irrelevant.
Much of the oil I collect has sat in a non air tight drum for a month or more anyway. Bit late to start worrying about a bit of air while I'm drying it.

I also agree wholeheartedly with what you say about being overly concerned with every aspect of WVO use. I wonder why the hell some people bother with WVO in the first place the way they go on about every single possible theoretical and otherwise POTENTIAL problem. If your that dam neurotic, use diesel you dug out of the ground and refined yourself to your own impossible to satisfy standards and stop procrastinating over every issue of WVO use!!

The greatest majority of people using WVO are driving cars of an age that id they were on Dino and fell over tomorrow, no one would be surprised. Somehow, when they put WVO in these jalopies they get paranoid if it will damage their 300,000, 400,000 or longer in the tooth engine!!
They probably save in one year in fuel what the car is worth anyway so whats the big deal? anytime you get over that is money in your pocket so be happy.

I have developed my own systems, equipment and methodology's and they work for MY particular circumstances. If people want to fuss about everything else especially when it it therotecial and not a real problem they have actually encountered and then come up with ill founded solutions, WOW, good luck to them.

I'll be happily out driving enjoying myself!

:D :D :D :roll:

Sorry for the rant, the stupidity and ignorance I am seeing so many overnight experts that have never got their hands dirty once proving their armchair theroys going on with lately is getting to me!
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Postby froggo » Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:23 pm

Hi David good to hear from you,

It's intresting to get different peoples ideas, sometimes it makes you wonder? :?

My vehicle comes standard with a large old style sedimentor. This was included in the vehicles design for a very good reason, free water. The stuff I used to drain from this was a impressive mix of small solid particles, free water and brown dirty stuff that I've got no idea what it was. I'm just glad the new servo operators have installed poly tanks now and my sedimentor has been clean ever since.

I'm in the process of moving my upflow system to a new location. I'm also going to add one of your dryers David. I've been thinking of making it portable so I can wheel it around the yard to get the most from the suns heat when required.

The purpose of my thread on wvo tests is so I can try some of these methods people say work. When I was a complete newbie I read so much contradicting info I was confused about what works and what doesn't. I'm trying to document some simple experiments that don't require high tech equipment and can be replicated by anyone anywhere to dry their wvo.

I'm with you, the kids are away this weekend so my wife and I are going fishing. Thanks to wvo a trip away to go fishing is no sweat. The weekend after we are off as a family camping in the high country. Free fuel is great :D

God bless froggo.
I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it!

HJ45 Landcruiser, 2 tank wvo homemade system.
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Postby David » Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:26 am

froggo wrote:
I'm in the process of moving my upflow system to a new location. I'm also going to add one of your dryers David. I've been thinking of making it portable so I can wheel it around the yard to get the most from the suns heat when required.


Hi Froggo,

Certainly the idea of being able to move the dryer around has merit. My yard is full of patches of sun and shade that move around throughout the day. When filling my 100OL tank the other day and decanting the 1600L worth of plastic 25l Drums, I ended up putting the left over slops in a 205 which wasn't in an ideal location when it was full.

Rather than try to move the open top drum. I grabbed a spare pump I had lying around and put some fittings on it and made another dryer. I just put it in the drum set it going and came back to nice dry oil. I also got a piece of shiny gal roofing iron and set it behind the drum to throw some heat back onto the shadow side of the drum. With the shiny warm day, Im sure it helped at least a little bit.

Although the "Hoseing" design is the one I came up with, I referred a few people who were pedantic about energy consumption etc to the bubble dry method which I think is great for its simplicity and complete lack of requiring any type of attention. I look on the circus forum today and I see people have taken that brainless concept and are complicating and questioning it as well as adding a lot of misinformation!

As well as my system works in its basic form, I am thinking of complicating it, Mainly because I like to tinker and make things completely over the top! ( hence my Tim the toolman Nickname ( only my stuff ALWAYS works)) If The thing will dry oil in 3 hours now, I want it to do it in 30 min or less!

Although the ideas can be taken over the top by the mentally deranged like myself, they also have an application for sane Folk.

First one I'll definately do is add a solar heater. I can do this with 2 plastic garden irrigation valves @ $5each and a roll ( or 2) of the black plastic irrigation hose, 50Meter rolls @ Under $7 ea. I'll simple add the valves to the return side of the pump and use the to divert a portion of the oil going to the dryer through the black ag pipe which will be on the roof of the shed the dryer is in. Luckily this shed faces the sun all day and is nice and long so plenty of run to lay the hose out. Solar is pathetic in winter granted but in summer, I'll be able to deep fry chooks in that dryer after an hour I reckon!

The other possible idea, is to build a small heat exchanger to run the oil through and heat it with a miniaturized version of one of my WVO burners. The current design kicks out a min. of 60KW so is probably a bit overkill for 150L of oil. My friend and I heated 380L of oil for bio making from 16oC to 88oC in under 20 min and that was before we realized we were doing something wrong and the thing was at less than 1/4 power!

Even if a small wood fire was built and pipes run to pump a portion o oil through a coil of pipe or an old heat exchanger, ( my friend uses a GAS water heater, a considerable amount of heat could be transfered into the oil without running up the electricity or gas bill. For those that havent tried it, there is a lot of heat to be gained by supplementing a wood fire with a squirt of reject WVO on a regular interval.

The heat is not necessary in my design but it does help speed up the process of evaporation especially on humid winter days.


The purpose of my thread on wvo tests is so I can try some of these methods people say work. When I was a complete newbie I read so much contradicting info I was confused about what works and what doesn't. I'm trying to document some simple experiments that don't require high tech equipment and can be replicated by anyone anywhere to dry their wvo.


You certainly have my deepest respect and admiration for this Froggo.
I too was confused with all the misinformation being bandied about and being they type I am and loving to experiment and test, that is just what I did.

What I see in the Veg world is so many people just do what the guy before them did and parrot on what they ave read without first determineing if it actually works, the flaws in the system and where it may be improved without undue complication. They don't have a clue how, why or when a system should work, the flaws in it, the parts of it that are unnecessary for their circumstances or where it is lacking for their needs.

The 2 tank conversion on my car breaks about 10 of the " Hard and fast" rules that are preached for conversions and the stalwarts would claim it would never work or break down in 10 minutes and 10 minute intervals after that! It has never given me a moments trouble, was much cheaper to convert than any other proper conversion I have seen and performs well without taking shortcuts in the important areas.

I could only do this system because I literally said things to myself like " they say you can't run fat especially in winter because it clags fuel lines and filters. It's winter, I'm going to put a tank full of liquid fat in the thing and see what happens and where the problems are" I put the tank of fat in and discovered my car handled it with no problem at all. Scratch going to the trouble of putting in a heated fuel system that others may need but my circumstances are such that I don't.
I think things like that are how you really learn.

Without trying to blow my own trumpet or sound like an ass, I now look at so many people in the Veg game that have been around a lot longer than I and think how little they really do know. They espouse so many flawed theories and ideals or just information that is just plain out of date. Despite being in this game just a fraction of the time they have, I know I am more knowledgeable in so many things than they are because I can prove what they are saying is wrong with tests I have done and have shown others how to replicate as well!

Its not a matter of being a smart arse or trying to be top of the heap, it's a
matter of having got off ya bum, got your hands dirty and having taken the time to find how things really work, or work in your particular circumstances.
By doing your own tests and experiments Froggo, you will be so much better off in recognizing fact from fiction and gaining an insight that will get you to a workable soloution to a problem so much faster that what people that haven't the experience you have will get to.

As this forum already has a very strong learning and practical flavor, I think it is going to be a very exciting place and will grow very quickly.

Free fuel is great :D


I couldn't agree more. It has allowed my family and I to enjoy small but important pleasures that we would not have been able to otherwise and on recent occasions, due to me bad health, has saved us from very difficult circumstances in financing the cost of essential transportation for our kids.

I have been the recipient of flamers from greenies that want to have every car running on renewable veg fuels and the politically correct brigade that want to jump down my throat that Veg should be all about the well worn cause of " THE ENVIRONMENT"
Thats a good side beinfit but anyone that doesn't put the welfare of their family before anything else is is a pathetic looser in my book.

I'd like to have all the do gooders recorded so in the not to distant future when when someone comes up with a new cause/ craze to make money out of and the damage COMMERCIAL Bio and veg related products has caused is realized, these people can have their nose rubbed in their arrogance for belittling other people for addressing their needs which were a lot more genuine and worthwhile!

Well time to go get another 150L of Finished liquid gold out of the dryer. It's been in there 4 hours now so it''ll be overcooked and dry as dust if I don't go get it! :mrgreen:
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Postby SunWizard » Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:12 am

Well said post David, I agree. Even more common than flawed theories, is the attitude that "My way is the best/only way". There are so many variables, and so many ways to do each aspect, and many of them work. When people accept that, there are less flaming posts. That gives me a good idea to add that to the the FAQ post for newbies.

Thats why its so valuable to come here and discuss this stuff. Have you put up a post detailing your dryer rig yet? (its easy to copy your old post from other forums.)

I would also be curious to see which 10 of the old "conversion rules" you broke and are having success.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
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Postby John Galt » Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:36 pm

do you have problems with water in the diesel that you buy?

Not in N.Canada. Our diesel fuel is domestic source, refined in country, and very good quality, especially in the North where the harsh cold climate makes clear, dry fuel essential. I get my ULSD from a bulk dealer that supplies mines and long haul truckers that operate further north.
My vehicle comes standard with a large old style sedimentor. This was included in the vehicles design for a very good reason, free water. The stuff I used to drain from this was a impressive mix of small solid particles, free water and brown dirty stuff that I've got no idea what it was.

My truck also has an effective fuel sedimentor, which might accumulate about 3cc of 'stuff' like described above in 15kKm, but very little free water.

This brings up a point so often missed on other forums. There is a huge variability in the quality and ingredients of what is sold as 'diesel' fuel around the world. As a result, the engine and fuel systems in the older 'pre-computer' MBenz cars and Toyota trucks sold worldwide, are designed to be more tolerant of varying fuel conditions, than the latest Powersmoke HyperMax computer controlled wondertruck from Detroit designed for the N.American market.

Climate plays a big factor as well. Diesel engines are remarkably forgiving when operated hot and under load. They'll sip a wide range of hot fuels into a hot engine and just keep chugging along.

Then there is the extreme variability in what everyone calls "WVO", and how it's cleaned and how it's dried, before it goes into the tank.

Combine all these factors and the 'gospel' according to some guy in AZ or OZ, driving an old MBenz is likely to cause problems for another new user somewhere around the Great Lakes if he tries the same 'system' in his new GMC, Ford, or Dodge. Likewise experienced users in the colder climates can be seen as overly obsessed with dry fuel and getting all the water out, especially by that guy with the old MBenz in LA-LA Land with a single tank running high percent of WierdVegeOil that he just pours from the cubie into the tank.

The limited ability some folks have in understanding the interaction of so many variables can easily lead to misunderstandings and harsh words when people get personal. It looks to me like the core group of this forum won't get hung up in that sort of problem.
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BirdWaterer dryer

Postby JohnO » Sun Mar 09, 2008 9:25 am

I think I also posted some BirdWaterer information elsewhere in these forii, so I apologize for the duplication. I've also posted pictures and details at biodieselpictures.com. For those who might not be familiar with it, it heats the oil in a skillet set to 250F just long enough to boil off residual water. A pump keeps supplying more oil as long as the pool temperature stays above 250. In other word, it's continuosly performing a hotplate test on the oil, stopping the pump every time "wet" oil arrives and drops the pool temperature below 250. Residence time in the pool is perhaps a minute, which seems trivial compared to the day the oil spent in a deepfryer. I've stored oil dried and filtered this way up to two years, by which time it smells a bit like it's beginning to polymerize. After one year it smells fresh and edible. That's more than adequate storage time for all practical purposes.

In the winter, the oil gells in the BirdWaterer heat exchanger and storage barrels, making it difficult to get started. My solution has been to dump all the WVO from the restauraunt into a big steel pot (made from a round-bottom water tank with the top cut off) and heating the whole 30+ gallons to 250, then after cooling, pumping it into a plastic tote to store until the weather warms enough to run it through the BirdWaterer. Dry oil, even unfiltered, stores well this way without turning rancid.

When it eventually gets run through the BirdWaterer, the oil gets drawn from the bottom of the tote, assuming that's the "wettest" portion. That's also where any condensation will have collected, and where most of the settled junk will also be concentrated. After the first 50 gallons or so have been sucked out, the remainder shows trivial or no bubbles as it passes through the skillet.
Cheers,
JohnO
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David, welcome to this forum...

Postby HoldOnTight » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:20 pm

I appreciate your refreshing view about alternative ways and getting your hands dirty and learning from it. I'm also tired of the parrot talk...

Can you post some pics of your oil drying setup? It sounds like one of the most efficient approaches I've ever come across and I would like to try it myself! Cheers!
Late 99 Ford F-250, Designed and installed at home, 30 kMi on VO. WVO temp at solenoid valve is 185-195+F, winter-summer.
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Re: BirdWaterer dryer

Postby canolafunola » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:55 pm

How are you getting rid of the salt, sugar, vinegar etc that are left behind after the water boil off?

JohnO wrote:I think I also posted some BirdWaterer information elsewhere in these forii, so I apologize for the duplication. I've also posted pictures and details at biodieselpictures.com. For those who might not be familiar with it, it heats the oil in a skillet set to 250F just long enough to boil off residual water. A pump keeps supplying more oil as long as the pool temperature stays above 250. In other word, it's continuosly performing a hotplate test on the oil, stopping the pump every time "wet" oil arrives and drops the pool temperature below 250. Residence time in the pool is perhaps a minute, which seems trivial compared to the day the oil spent in a deepfryer. I've stored oil dried and filtered this way up to two years, by which time it smells a bit like it's beginning to polymerize. After one year it smells fresh and edible. That's more than adequate storage time for all practical purposes.

In the winter, the oil gells in the BirdWaterer heat exchanger and storage barrels, making it difficult to get started. My solution has been to dump all the WVO from the restauraunt into a big steel pot (made from a round-bottom water tank with the top cut off) and heating the whole 30+ gallons to 250, then after cooling, pumping it into a plastic tote to store until the weather warms enough to run it through the BirdWaterer. Dry oil, even unfiltered, stores well this way without turning rancid.

When it eventually gets run through the BirdWaterer, the oil gets drawn from the bottom of the tote, assuming that's the "wettest" portion. That's also where any condensation will have collected, and where most of the settled junk will also be concentrated. After the first 50 gallons or so have been sucked out, the remainder shows trivial or no bubbles as it passes through the skillet.
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Re: BirdWaterer dryer

Postby Burbarian » Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:41 pm

canolafunola wrote:How are you getting rid of the salt, sugar, vinegar etc that are left behind after the water boil off?


That would be my primary concern as well. Evaporative dewatering does nothing for water soluble and nonvolatile liquid contaminants. Although it could be argued that this fraction poses less danger to the IP in the form of corrosion than the presence of water does via cavitation. Still, dewatering is a requirement regardless. I would personally favour the slow upflow process were it not for the difficulty of doing that with lard. I'm now leaning towards a hot centrifuge method as the primary means of cleaning and dewatering my supply of solid animal fat.
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Heated Upflow Setling

Postby John Galt » Sun Mar 16, 2008 2:23 pm

Those like Ron Schroeder who have good success with heated upflow settling know that even heating and good insulation are essential.

Solar heating on a dark barrel is usually quite uneven, as a result it stirs the oil and makes water separation more difficult.

Here's his description the system he has used for many years.

I have a trouble free settling system that gets me more than 1000 gallons thru a 2 micron Racor filter element.

My settling tank is very evenly heated and well insulated. I introduce the oil into the bottom of the tank slowly to not stir up the oil already in the tank. The outlet is about 6" from the TOP of the tank so I am only draining the top 10% of the oil in the tank. The outlet gravity flows thru the 2 micron filter into my storage tank. If I put 5 gallons into the tank a day, it takes over a week for that oil to work it's way up to the outlet. by that time almost all of the water and solids have settled out. I get over 1000 gallons thru the filtering station filter and I have NEVER had to replace an in the car WVO filter even after 70,000 miles on WVO.

I use a settling tank that has a little more capacity than the amount of oil I use in a week. With PHO Soy, I ran a little over 120F in the settling tank and about 80 in the storage tank (I am intentionally keeping the animal fat clear). With Canola, I am running about 100F.

No problems with polymerization.

I can heat it either with hot water from my boiler or with electricity. The tank is wrapped with PEX pipe with a spacing of about 3" turn to turn and is also wrapped with ice melt cable between the PEX turns.

The water loop is fed from a tempering valve so a constant water temperature is circulated around the settling tank. The circulating pump that I am using only draws 5 watts.

The electric heat is controlled by a proportional controller rather than an on/off controller. Once up to temperature, it takes less than 60 watts to maintain temperature. With good enough insulation a 60 to 80 foot ice melt cable will get you over 200F. That temperature will probably damage the cable. I have had no problems up to 150F.

Normally I just use the circulating hot water heat.

I also heat the incoming waste oil with an inline thermostatically controlled electric heater (like a 120V version of a veggietherm) to the same temperature as the tank so there is no temperature differential between the incoming oil and the oil already in the tank.

My in home filtering has been working so well that I used a stock fuel filter for WVO on my last WVO conversion ('85 MB 300D)


Ron
'85 300D
Since '81 former WVO conversions:
'83 240D
'80 Audi 4000D
'83 Isuzu Pup
'86 Golf
'76 Honda Civic with Kubota engine
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Postby canolafunola » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:36 pm

"Evaporative dewatering does nothing for water soluble and nonvolatile liquid contaminants. Although it could be argued that this fraction poses less danger to the IP in the form of corrosion than the presence of water does via cavitation. "

I did a test with my Dieselcraft CF by mixing vinegar and wvo. The vinegar was captured in the rotor as a white substance (tasted very sour) and there was a brown layer that looked and tasted like rust. Acid, salt, sugar etc that goes in the IP will have similar effect.

If you use evaporative dewatering, the contaminants left behind will settle to the bottom given the right conditions. But I must ask: Why not just heat and settle since the water and its soluble contaminants will settle out together, with less polymerization?
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Re: Heated Upflow Setling

Postby Burbarian » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:51 pm

John Galt wrote:Those like Ron Schroeder who have good success with heated upflow settling know that even heating and good insulation are essential.

Solar heating on a dark barrel is usually quite uneven, as a result it stirs the oil and makes water separation more difficult.


I think completely even heating may not be necessary. If the intent is to prevent convection, then stratified heating should be adequate. ie heating from above, downwards. If fluid at a greater depth increases buoyancy due to thermal expansion, it will rise by convection. If however the heating was introduced from above, then the heat will transfer by conduction downwards without convection. Likewise if cooling was to proceed from the bottom upwards, then there would be no downward convection of sinking cooled fluid.

John, thanks for the input. You've sparked the old neurons into action. I am conceiving of a container with heavy insulation on the top and sides, but only light or absent insulation on the bottom. This in conjunction with an aluminum coil suspended just under the surface through which flows hot water. That would require specific volume batches be processed at a given time, or the use of a more complex floating coil. The hot water coil will transfer heat to the top layer of oil/lard and the heat will slowly conduct downwards as the top and sides are insulated and the bottom is not. This will enforce a stratified thermal gradient that will prevent any convection and allow heated settling.

Enforced thermal stratification should allow the use of even sporadic and non thermally controlled sources. Like a thermosiphon from either a solar collector or hot water from a small gasifier stove. The water won't flow unless the lower input gets hotter than the stagnant hot water in the top. Once the input gets hotter, it will flow, and will heat the oil from above.

Unless I'm missing something.
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Postby SunWizard » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:10 pm

I haven't done controlled measurements of it, but I think VO doesn't conduct heat downward very well. The warmth just sits in a layer on top.
YVORMV - Your veg. oil results may vary.
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