Alcohol or biodiesel – survivalist forum gas pump heaven

A buddy of mine ran a propane sales and general storage yard here in Colorado. As I remember his explanation, biodiesel got shafted by the government. There was a period where grants and loans were given out to drive BD development and gains were made. The home brew fad took off as well and (according to my friend) petro-oil got concerned. Wielding their large coffers they were able to lobby the government to put a stop (or at least make it near impossible) to the profitability of BD. Not only were grants and loans pulled but they pushed the recipients to turn over their research and developments.

I can’t say how much of that is true vs tin foil hat stuff but it’s the jist of what I was told. He had one big customer, blue sun biodiesel, who still had barrels of stuff in his storage yard. They were run out of the BD business and forced to stop making and selling it. They were also forced to wait for permission to get rid of their stocks and supplies which is why it was rotting away in storage.

While I know one can’t simply dump bio into a used rig and expect flawless performance, I did see it as a true "alternative fuel" with huge potential. Older diesels could be started on a regiment where the % of BD is increased until 100% was reached. The big benefit being it did an amazing job of cleaning all the old carbon and gunk from the internals of an old motor, essentially adding longer life. Less reliance on OPEC/petrol suppliers, cleaner burning, and (potentially) less expensive were all good reasons to hope for its success. Sadly, it has been shelved and unlikely to be brought into widespread use.

A buddy of mine ran a propane sales and general storage yard here in Colorado. As I remember his explanation, biodiesel got shafted by the government. There was a period where grants and loans were given out to drive BD development and gains were made. The home brew fad took off as well and (according to my friend) petro-oil got concerned. Wielding their large coffers they were able to lobby the government to put a stop (or at least make it near impossible) to the profitability of BD. Not only were grants and loans pulled but they pushed the recipients to turn over their research and developments.

I can’t say how much of that is true vs tin foil hat stuff but it’s the jist of what I was told. He had one big customer, blue sun biodiesel, who still had barrels of stuff in his storage yard. They were run out of the BD business and forced to stop making and selling it. They were also forced to wait for permission to get rid of their stocks and supplies which is why it was rotting away in storage.

While I know one can’t simply dump bio into a used rig and expect flawless performance, I did see it as a true "alternative fuel" with huge potential. Older diesels could be started on a regiment where the % of BD is increased until 100% was reached. The big benefit being it did an amazing job of cleaning all the old carbon and gunk from the internals of an old motor, essentially adding longer life. Less reliance on OPEC/petrol suppliers, cleaner burning, and (potentially) less expensive were all good reasons to hope for its success. Sadly, it has been shelved and unlikely to be brought into widespread use.

It was a nice machine, for sure. It looks like the BioPro 150 is now discontinued, and they’re pushing people into the more expensive (yet!) BioPro 190 now. Given today’s diesel prices, the payoff on the investment would take considerably longer.

We had a nice lab. I partnered with a guy who had a nice, heated pole barn with a LOT of storage space for WVO and finished fuel storage. We were in the process of building two large cone-bottom fuel drying tanks to free up the processor to just do the chemical reactions. Because the drying took a couple days, it tied up the machine to do the more important work, and also the surface area of the fuel in the BioPro was limited/inefficient for drying purposes.

I was collecting free oil from a few places, and also trading 25% finished fuel for large volumes good-quality WVO from a Catholic school (fish fry event were the best!). I was also researching alternate sources of source oil such as used coffee grounds, algae, etc.

Originally, I intended on using a biodiesel fuel stove to heat my house, as well. This was when diesel fuel spiked over $4/gallon, BTW. Unfortunately, I went through a nasty divorce, and sold all of my equipment to my bio partner to pay for attorney bills. It’s true what they say about attorneys…they’re the real winners financially. Fortunately, it was all worth it, as I remarried to an incredibly wonderful woman several years later.

Thanks for all of the input! Suppose I wanted to buy equipment to make 100 gallons of biodiesel or 130 gallons of alcohol at one time. (The difference in volume is due to the difference in energy content.) What would the equipment cost for each option?

The BioPro line mentioned above is the buy-it-now Cadillac, but does everything well. Their largest processor is the 380 and will do 100 gallon batch. It retails for about $16-20K. Utah Biodiesel has some decent plans for home built units also.

A still that large, I don’t even know where to start. You are probably talking a ~1000 gallon vessel to be able to pull off 100+ gallons of motor fuel grade alcohol from a single batch. You also have to be able to heat that volume of liquid as far as energy input. Then cool off the output. That is a LARGE operation. If you don’t care about drinking it you could cheap out some of the materials for sure. I would say your looking at 10-20K for a setup that large rough numbers. You might be able to make it out of a large propane tank or something used like that. It would be a LARGE setup. Unless you have a natural gas well on your property you are going to have a REALLY hard time dealing with the energy input requirements.

Not certain why others suggest it hard to produce. Most biodiesel is made from soybeans. You grind and compress the beans, squeezing out the oil. If you want to burn the oil during winter, you chemically break off the glycerine, and seal the carbon chain. Methanol (wood alcohol) is one hydro carbon used to seal the carbon chain. During summer, you simply filter it and burn straight veggie oil.

Ethanol mixtures are very gyroscopic. Meaning they absorbe moisture from the air, and this interferes with engine lubrication. It is also difficult to produce a consultant ethanol fuel, meaning you will need to adjust your mixture. Some vehicles are equipped to run on high % Ethanol. These would be better than a home brew modification.

Wood gas is a stupid, sick joke. About half the gas is actually water vapor. The rest us a horrible mixture of CO, long as short chain hydrocarbons, benzene chains, and other toxins. The engine will run for a while, but the fuel is corrosive, toxic, and so is the exhaust.