1. Introduction
Thesis Statement: The most efficient Biodiesel Reactor is one that combines ease of use, cost efficiency, and safety, yet still produces a high quality fuel without harming the environment.

  • Low emissions, closed carbon cycle, reduces CO2 by 2.2 kg for every liter of fossil fuel it displaces. (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • ASTM standard D6751 for biodiesel, a fuel comprised of the "mono-alkyl esters of fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats" (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic, less toxic than NaCl and more biodegradable than sugar (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • Appleseed=water heater based processor invented by Maria "Girl Mark" Alovert (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Original Design criteria: No welding, readily available parts, improved safety (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Can be built in day, costs between 400-800 (make-biodiesel.org)

2. Background Info/Context
  • Higher Centane value than petro diesel, smoother more complete ignition for improved combustion and less unburnt fuel (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • FAME molecule contains 11% more oxygen than regular gasoline, reduces soot and lowers sulfur (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • Exposed to high temp, Oxygen, or sunlight, FAME deteriorates and thickens, can plug fuel filter (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • Hygroscopic, water can destabilize and lead to bacteria growth (biodiesel basics and Beyond)
  • Appleseed: heat and process oil in the water heater. (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Mix methoxide in separate carboy (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Good because of simple design and availability of water heaters (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • appleseed=simple, cheap and safe (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • Graydon Blair didn't find it difficult to build his first appleseed (Graydon interview)
  • Test fuel quality is important. (Graydon interview)
  • Rick from make-biodiesel didn't find it difficult to build his first appleseed, just found plans on Internet and followed them (Rick interview)
  • Applseed made popular through Internet and "Girl Mark" nationwide tours (make-biodiesl.org)
  • Girl Mark lead effort to improve the design, using Internet forum boards, engaged a large number of volunteers to test and improve design (make-biodiesel.org)
  • result is appleseed, adopted as safe and reliable standard (make-biodiesel.org)
  • safest lowest cost design available, processor of choice for many biodiesel enthusiasts (make-biodiesl.org)

3. Basic Appleseed Design
  • If buying a kit, things to consider: does it have all of the parts, if not does it say what you have to buy yourself? (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Heat: How is the oil going to be heated and for how long (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • How is the oil going to filtered (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • temperature monitoring/regulation (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • insulation (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • dewatering (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • tank venting (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • pump flow: is pump powerful enough (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • methanol mixing: is it safe/ is it bill enough (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Filter oil, dewater oil, heat oil to 130F (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • fully dissolve the catalyst in the methanol safely (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • slowly and evenly add the methoxide (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • keep the methoxide evenly dispersed (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • mix and agitate the oil while the reaction happens (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • separate glycerol and the other by-products (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • Graydon Blair was impressed with how simple the design was, how easy it was assemble, and the safety of the setup (Graydon interview)
  • In late 2004, he finished tweaking the design and came up with the version that his company sells. (Graydon interview)
  • People report that Graydon's design is easy to use (Graydon interview)
  • Graydon says using standardized plans is helpful. (Graydon interview)
  • Using a pre-made kit helps a lot. The one Graydon has includes everything, comes with plans, and simple easy to use instructions to put it together (Graydon interview)
  • Rick says most important thing to consider when designing an appleseed is how each part fits into the whole system (Rick interview)
  • ex: making site tube tie back into tank so it will self level and can be used to determine shortest time for initial glycerin draining (Rick interview)
  • Rick says don't design a component, design a whole system (Rick interview)
  • When Rick makes customizations, he focuses on improving system integration (Rick interview)
  • Says most people focus on individual components rather than the system. Design everything to work together (Rick interview)

4. Tank
  • 40 or 60 gallon tank is ideal, self draining conical bottom. Low cost, energy efficient, and has integral heating system design (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • All models have upper and lower thermostats (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Since tank is not completely filled, need to remove upper heating element (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Have to remove sacrificial anode to prevent metals getting into FAME (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Once removed, seal with 3 inch black pipe and plumbing cap (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Make sure the tank is totally draining (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • best material is stainless steel but 10 to 20 times as expensive stainless tank (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Next best is Medium Density Polyethylene (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Don't use a galvanized water heater (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Stainless steel is ideal but very expensive, plain steel is good (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • Advantage of tank: all inlet/outlet ports, heating elements, and thermostats are already there (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Graydon Blair says always use a new water heater. old ones work, but can have leaks, rust, or calcium deposits. old ones are a pain to work with. (Graydon Interview)
  • Graydon likes the new GE branded water heaters from Home Depot. There easy to work on and the ports are all in the right spot (Graydon Interview)
  • In his new appleseed design, Rick starts with a 40 gallon water heater for 20-25 gallon batches (infopop new appleseed design)
  • For the biodiesel beginner, the smaller model is cheaper and more economical (infopop new appleseed design)
  • Tall and skinny water heaters get less biodiesel in the glycerin because the drain is on the side (infopop new appleseed design)
  • He chose a short and fat tank because it is more stable and because he added an eductor for inside the tank mixing. easier to add in short tank (infopop new appleseed design)
  • Used water heater will work, but easier to start with a new one (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Want to buy the cheapest water heater available in the size you want. more expensive ones have unnecessary features (make-biodiesel.org)
  • For 40 gallon processors, low-boy (short fat) are better because the mixing is better (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Need to remove dip tube in water inlet and anode rod
  • Requirements for a water heater: Electric, Hot and cold water inlets on top of tank, screw in type water heater elements (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Heater size to max batch size ratio: 40:25, 50:35, 80:60, 120:90 (make-biodiesel.org)
  • 40 gallons are least expensive and most commonly found (make-biodiesel.org)
  • can save several hundreds of dollars by using a used water heater (make-biodiesel.org)
  • disadvantages: may take a day or two to clean out and unseize plumbing, may leak (if so can't be used), may have rust on heating element (can't use). (make-biodiesel.org)
  • More expensive water heaters have electronic controls that make wiring harder (make-biodiesel.org)

5. Plumbing
  • Majority of plumbing connections made with black pipe, has threaded ends and receptors (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • Available in incremental lengths for custom designs (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • standard is 3/4'' diameter (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • have to tape ends of pipe to ensure tight, leak-proof, seal (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • besides pipe, all caps, 90 degree elbows, valves and other fittings are available in black pipe (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • Some plumbing connections, like sight glass, are best made from see-through reinforced braided flexible plastic pipe (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • w/clear plastic pipe, levels can be checked with a glance. Liquid sensors are expensive and not worth it for home brewers (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • plastic will degrade over time, so change every year (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • William Kemp uses a braided tube for his sight glass (biodiesel basics and beyond)
  • Ball valves: PVC is too weak, brass or stainless steel are more durable (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Hoses: reinforced clear hose, thick wall is better than thin (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • valves: brass or steel are acceptable, PVC should be avoided (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • problems with hoses: degrade with time, heat, and chemicals. tend to weep (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Never use non-reinforced hose as it will rupture (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Other parts to avoid: natural rubber, brass, bronze, copper, lead, tin, and zinc cause oxidation (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Avoid galvanized metal, copper pipe, brass regulator, and copper fittings (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • teflon tape is better than plumbers pipe dope: thicker, seals better and goes farther (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • steel plumbing parts, "black iron" gas pipes are plentiful, cheap and easy to work with (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • Graydon Blair says install ball valves so that when they're open they point in the direction of the flow of oil. makes it easier to identify when something is open and which way oil flows. (Graydon interview)
  • main challenge for Blair when building first appleseed was plumbing. back then there wasn't a standard way to do it, so he had to guess. (Graydon interview)
  • First time he used that appleseed, glycerin settled in pipes and gelled, so he had to redesign the plumbing so it drained totally. (Graydon interview)
  • Rick says make the site tube out of teflon so it can withstand chemicals and temperatures without leaking or weeping (Rick Interview)
  • Says to also make sure that all of the valves are easily reachable (Rick Interview)
  • In his new appleseed design, Rick uses a 3/8'' sight tube made from polyethylene instead of PVC for improved chemical resistance (infopop new appleseed)
  • methoxide feed line also polyethylene (infopop new appleseed)
  • plumbing should be black pipe, but galvanized will do in a jam (make-biodiesel)
  • brass ball valves are good but make sure balls inside are metal not metal plated plastic (make-biodiesel)
  • Use steel piping in design, it will withstand the heat (graydon interview)
  • if possible replace the pvc tube that extends from pump to processor with a metal pipe, tube can be a point of failure (Graydon interview)
  • In his new appleseed, Rick uses all steel plumbing in circulation loop, and he plumped the drain and return on bottom (Rick Interview)

6. Wiring
  • Add a digital thermometer to monitor process temp, make sure thermometer can go up to 175 degrees Fahrenheit (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Sensor should be placed firmly between tank wall and insulation to ensure a tight mount (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Put heating element on separate circuit in service panel with its own breaker (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Graydon says install electrical on timers so if something is left unattended it will shut down on its own. (Graydon Interview)
  • Use a circuit breaker of about 10 amps to run power through for the pump. safety device (Graydon interview)
  • On his appleseeds, Graydon wires a junction box with light switches together. uses good heavy duty 10 gauge wire to make sure its electrically sound (Graydon interview)
  • Easiest way to save energy is to use 220 volt power, heats oil faster and more efficiently (Graydon interview)
  • In his new appleseed, Rick measures temperature with bi-metallic thermometer placed at TNP port (infopop new appleseed)
  • Ground fault circuit interrupter, GFCI, are required when water and electricity are in the same room (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Use a GFCI adapter or GFCI extension chord. They plug into existing outlets and offer GFCI for up to 15 amps per device (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Most people heat oil with 110V because it's whats available near the processor (make-biodiesel.org)
  • 240V heats oil four times faster but can burn out element if you don't run pump (make-biodiesel.org)
  • oil transfers heat away from the element slower than water, can lead to heat building up and element burning out (make-biodiesel.org)
  • can avoid early burn outs with 240V low watt density heating element. (make-biodiesel.org)
  • a low watt density is 100 watts per square inch. typical is 200. (make-biodiesel.org)
  • watch out for total load on wiring to prevent tripping breakers and melting extension chords (make-biodiesel.org)
  • primary cause of burnt out elements is dirty oil, particulates stick to element and insulate it, preventing heat transfer (make-biodiesel.org)
  • old thermostats stick, so buy if using used heater buy new thermostat. replace them every year (make-biodiesel.org)
  • you use lower thermostat and element without making any changes to it (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Upper thermostat contains thermal protection switch and thermostatically controlled switch for the element (make-biodiesel.org)
  • you will disable the upper element and wire the switch in the series to give redundant thermostatic protection. (make-biodiesel.org)
  • two types of upper thermostats, seven terminal and five terminal. Seven more common (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Remove two wires going to upper element completely from water heater to disable upper element (make-biodiesel.org)
  • leave the element in place as future spare (make-biodiesel.org)
  • When finished with wiring modifications is wire redundancy into thermostats
  • if one element fails, the other will shut everything down if temp rises above its set point. (make-biodiesel.org)
  • set lower thermostat to 130F and upper to 140F (make-biodiesel.org)

7.Pump
  • Pump flow: pumps at only 330 gph are insufficient for anything above 20 gallons (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • most people use inexpensive Harbor Freight brand clear water pump. flow rate is too slow (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Northern Industrial's pump is better, flows twice as fast=better mixing, faster transfer, and easier priming (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • want a pump with flow rate of at least 10 gpm (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • want pump to be totally enclosed fan cooled. (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • rated for higher temp fluids and mild to medium corrosives (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Graydon says use a good pump. Northern Tool 1'' Clear Water pump or pumps from murphysmachines.com are great (Graydon interview)
  • Harbor Freight pumps are junk and should be avoided (Graydon interview)
  • Harbor Freight and NT Clearwater are most commonly used (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Cheaper Harbor Freight is less reliable (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Harbor Freight uses an underside capacitor that blows out easily (make-biodiesel.org)
  • adding a 6-10 amp slow blow fuse wire inline will protect against a locked motor (make-biodiesel.org)
  • for definitely need spark-proof pump (run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • for thermal protection, best bet is manual motor starter (make-biodiesel.org)
  • manual starter has thermal overload protection built in and can be used as on off switch (make-biodiesel.org)
  • Harbor Freight pump leaks from several places, NT pump doesn't (make-biodiesel.org)
  • The fan in the NT pump is bolted in place so it doesn't become misaligned and break the motor, can happen with Harbor Freight (make-biodiesel.org)

8. Safety
  • Important to have system grounding. provides method to safely dissipate electrical energy in case of fault condition (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Room ventilation is important (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • When it comes to safety, prevention is lowest cost and lowest risk way to be safe (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Graydon Blair says that safety is the most important thing to consider when designing an appleseed. (Graydon Interview)
  • Make it extremely difficult to turn on element when processor is empty. A hot element can ignite methanol vapors (Graydon Interview)
  • Mount processor in a way so that it won't tip over (Graydon Interview)
  • Graydon likes to build a large frame cart with wheels to put his appleseeds on. That way everything is contained in one movable cart that can be set up in a safe spot (Graydon Interview)
  • Make sure the appleseed is vented properly outdoors (Graydon Interview)
  • Anything you can do to make your design more safe is a plus (Graydon Interview)
  • Water heaters are pressure rated to 300 psi, have insulation, are pre-wired, and don't require welding. those are the built in safety features. (Graydon Interview)
  • It is important to install something that will prevent you turning on element when the tank is empty and install thermal overload protection for pump. (Graydon Interview)
  • Be sure to use proper safety gear and work in a well vented are. Ground all the wiring and make sure it is done properly (Graydon Interview)
  • when customizing, one area Rick focuses on is improving safety (Rick interview)
  • In original appleseed design, if heating element is on when you drain biodiesel, it will catch fire inside the tank (Rick Interview)
  • Rick doesn't recover methanol, alcohols have a long history of blowing up and killing people. He'd rather waste a few dollars than risk an explosion (Rick Interview)
  • Secondary containment of spills is essential to both safety and environmentally friendly biodiesel (Rick Interview)
  • Don't take chances with the wiring. when in doubt, talk to an electrician (make-biodieslel.org)
  • hard plumbing the connection between tank and wash tank will avoid potential safety hazzards from pressure build from leaving pump on (make-biodieslel.org)
  • To avoid dry fire, never turn on heat when element isn't covered (make-biodieslel.org)
  • Unplug the processor between batches (make-biodieslel.org)
  • The main problem with the appleseed, or any unit that retains an electric heating element, is that it has an explosion hazard. (Jon Van Gerpen Interview)
  • If someone forgets to turn off the electric power to the heater, then it will stay on through the reaction and probably cause no problems. However, after the reaction is over and the glycerin and biodiesel are drained off, then the heater is exposed in the tank with no liquid to cool it. It will get hot enough to potentially ignite the methanol-air mixture that is in the tank and cause the tank to explode. (Jon Van Gerpen Interview)
  • So, if someone forgets to turn off the power, the mistake could have potentially lethal consequences. We believe biodiesel reaction systems should be explosion-proof, which usually means not using electric heat. (Jon Van Gerpen Interview)
  • If Van Gerpen could change one thing about the appleseed, he would eliminante electric heat (Jon Van Gerpen interview)
  • No electric heat and an electrically conductive tank so that it can be grounded to prevent the build-up of static electricity both improve safety of appleseed (Jon Van Gerpen interview)

9. Extra Features
  • Think about adding an optional heat control switch (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • William Kemp uses a methanol recovery system with his biodiesel set-up (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • His system is completely closed, uses a biodiesel powered generator. recaptures methanol. cleans his glycerin and waste water. (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Can make appleseed easier to operate with a cart and with switches that are easy to use. Timers are helpful too (Graydon interview)
  • Graydon Blair would add float level switches and timers to his appleseed design (Graydon interview)
  • Some people heat their oil with solar radian heat, others use solar water heater lines so oil is heated before it's placed in water heater (Graydon interview)
  • Rick says an appleseed can operated more easily with a control panel, simple or complex (Rick interview)
  • In his new appleseed design, Rick uses a steel stand rather than wood. Added a float switch and a complex control panel. (Rick interview)
  • When making a control panel, think about safety and automation (make-biodiesel.org)
  • using a toggle switch to control the pump will prevent confusion over which switch to use to turn on heat (make-biodiesel.org)
  • adding spring wound timer to heater will reduce chance of dry fire (make-biodiesel.org)

10. Making Biodiesel in an Appleseed
  • 100kg WVO +10kg methanol = 100kg FAME +10kg glycerol (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • Use volume of methanol equal to 20% of volume of WVO (Biodiesel Basics and Beyond)
  • best results will occur if oil stays between 120-130F during reaction (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • avoid using heating element once methanol is added (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Do a titration once the oil is heated (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Methoxide: circulate the oil and add the methoxide slowly at least 15-20 min (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Mixing times: 80F 4-8 hours, 105F 2-4 hours, 120F 2-3 hours (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • 80/20 method, supported by University of Idaho for improved reaction rate (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • add 80% of methoxide, circulate 1-2 hours (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • before turning off pump, take a small sample and see how fast glycerol drops (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • stop pump, wait for glycerol to drop and drain it, about 30 min (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • add remaining 20% of methoxide and process for 3 hours (DIY guide to biodiesel)
  • Have to wash biodiesel to remove methanol soaps and catalysts (Run your diesel vehicel on biofuels)
  • Have to dry biodiesel and filter it down to 10 microns (Run your diesel vehicle on biofuels)
  • Most of the energy used in biodiesel comes from heating the oil, sometimes as many as 3 or 4 times. by reducing heating times, you increase energy efficiency. (Rick interview)
  • A 55 gallon wash drum will only hold 35 gallons of biodiesel (make-biodiesl.org)
  • 25 gallon batches only need one 5 gallon methoxide carboy (make-biodiesl.org)

11. My Appleseed
  • I will right about my design in this section
  • I will talk about everything that I did to improve the efficiency of my Appleseed
  • I will be able to talk about this section more once I have started my design
  • I will talk about how I had to design my Appleseed to fit with the Greeningeering system and what specific things I did to do that
  • I will talk about the different parts I used
  • I will talk about how I make biodiesel with my design

12. Conclusion
  • Restate thesis statement
  • Give some context for the future
  • Summarize my argument