I mentioned a few months ago that we're doing some research
collaboration with a local biofuels company here. They have biodiesel
projects running in Japan and Southeast Asia, along with a business
partnership with the chemistry professor at a major Japanese
technical university in Tokyo. So we get access to the university's
chemistry department GC, the Gas Chromatograph ("gaskro" in
Japanese), to test our biodiesel, among other things.
They ran the first test for us last October, of a sample of our
normal full-scale production run WVO biodiesel, not test-batch stuff.
The chemistry department's comment on the report sheet was "Very
clean biodiesel!" The cleanest they'd seen, they said later - how do
we make such good biodiesel from WVO?
Anyway, it showed an ester content of 98.5%, compared with the EU
standard requirement of minimum 96.5%, very good completion.
So this is what you can achieve by using the quality tests at the
Journey to Forever website Biodiesel section to guide your processing.
It's very close, but not perfect - despite the high ester content,
both the monoglyceride and diglyceride levels were higher than the EU
standards specify. Completion is the crucial factor, and with such a
good completion rate the excess MGs and DGs didn't bother me a lot,
and it could easily be adjusted anyway.
This is an advantage of acid-base processing. Not for novices! we all
warn - unless you know what you're at, when you hit that inevitable
problem batch you'll be thrown by all the extra variables in the
acid-base process and you won't know how to troubleshoot it. So learn
the basics first.
Truly. But when you do know the basics, all those variables make it
easy to identify where a problem lies and very easy to fine-tune the
process. There are more controls you can use.
We just got the results of a further series of GC tests of three
production-run samples which demonstrate this quite well. The figures
show a curve.
21 Oct 2005 - Handmade Projects biodiesel 1st test results
10 April 2006 - Results of Handmade Projects samples #1 Biodiesel, #2
Biodiesel, #4 Biodiesel (sample #3 was not biodiesel)
Standard - European biodiesel standard EN 14214 of 2003.
Ester content (% mass)
EN 14214: >96.5
1st test: 98.5
#1 Biodiesel: 98.49
#2 Biodiesel: 98.73
#4 Biodiesel: 99.09
Monoglyceride (% mass)
EN 14214: <0.8
1st test: 0.93
#1 Biodiesel: 0.77
#2 Biodiesel: 0.65
#4 Biodiesel: 0.62
Diglyceride (% mass)
EN 14214: <0.2
1st test: 0.57
#1 Biodiesel: 0.74
#2 Biodiesel: 0.61
#4 Biodiesel: 0.28
Triglyceride (% mass)
EN 14214: <0.2
1st test: 0
#1 Biodiesel: 0
#2 Biodiesel: 0
#4 Biodiesel: 0
Sample #4 has very good completion and the MG level is now well
within spec, but the DG level is still 0.08% too high.
We'd planned a further two tests and we'll go ahead with those now (I
just ran the batch for the first sample today). These tests will
vanish that excess 0.08% of DGs, and teach me much besides.
I wouldn't have done all this if I didn't have such good access to
the gaskro. If someone had told me we had good completion, well above
spec, but the MGs and DGs were too high I'd have gone straight to the
second of the two tests I'm doing now and fixed it in one step. But
it's great to be able to get such accurate confirmation of how these
variables work. We'd never be able to afford these gaskro tests here
any other way, testing just one sample at commercial lab rates costs
Anyway, it's further confirmation that the backyard brewers' cheapo
kitchen-sink quality tests will indeed guide you to a high-quality
product, and that the one-step-at-a-time learning path is the way to
The tests are here, by the way:
Biodiesel and your vehicle: Quality testing
And the how-to:
Make your own biodiesel: "Where do I start?"
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