How To Make Biodiesel from Soybeans

With the increasing popularity of environmentally safe alternative fuels, people are starting to show more and more interest in making biodiesel in their homes. One of the many sources of biodiesel is soybean oil. Soy biodiesel may be used in different diesel engines with minor or no modifications.

In making soy biodiesel, it is important to remember that you will be using dangerous substances. Thus, taking safety precautions is a must. Additionally, if made incorrectly, the homemade biodiesel can do your engine more harm than good. It is advisable that you make one liter batches in the beginning. You can move up to big batches once you have perfected the process.

  • Prepare the ingredients and supplies. In making your own soy biodiesel, you will need a liter of unused soybean oil, potassium hydroxide, and 200 ml of 99+% pure methyl alcohol. You will also need a blender, set of scales, beakers, a transparent white High Density Polyethylene Plastic (HDPE) #2 container, two funnels, three 2-liter polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, some duct tape, and a thermometer. You can source all your chemical and plastic supplies from most chemical supply companies. Wash all your equipment with warm soapy water and rinse very well. Wipe everything dry before beginning the next steps.
  • Wear protective gear and make sure to observe safety precautions. Always wear chemical-proof gloves, an apron, and goggles. Wear shirts that have long sleeves as well as long pants. Make sure that you work in a well ventilated space to avoid inhaling any vapors. The chemicals that you will use can cause blindness, severe burns, and even death. Work in an area with accessible running water and keep a bottle of vinegar nearby. The vinegar will be useful in neutralizing potassium hydroxide or methoxide if it comes into contact with your skin.
  • Make the methoxide. Quickly pour 200 ml of methyl alcohol into HDPE container using one of the funnels. Add the potassium hydroxide using the other funnel. Put on the cap of the container and make sure that it has been screwed on tightly. Swirl the contents thoroughly until the potassium hydroxide has been dissolved completely.
  • Mix the methoxide and the soybean oil. Pre-heat the soybean oil to 130 degrees F (55 degrees C) and pour this into a good blender. Carefully add the methoxide. Cover the blender and make sure that the lid is secure before switching on the blender to its lowest speed setting. Blend the mixture for thirty minutes. Pour the mixture into one of the PET bottles and let it settle for at least a day.
  • Transfer the biodiesel into another container for storing. After about twenty four hours, you will notice that your mixture will separate into two distinct layers. The darker colored liquid is glycerin, while the paler one is your biodiesel. Slowly pour out the biodiesel into another PET bottle. If any glycerin gets mixed with your biodiesel, you will have to let the mixture re-settle and try decanting it again.
  • Wash the biodiesel. Bring out the two remaining PET bottles and puncture the bottom corner of each with a large pin, leaving a 2 mm hole. Cover this with duct tape. Transfer the biodiesel into one of the PET bottles and add half a liter of water. Screw on the bottle cap tightly and set it on its side on a flat surface. Roll the bottle until you get a homogeneous biodiesel and water mixture. Let the mixture settle for about three hours. Once the water separates from the biodiesel, remove it by uncovering the hole. Block the hole when all the water has been drained out. Transfer the remaining contents into the other PET bottle and wash it again. Wash the biodiesel at least four times, alternating between the two PET bottles. Clean the bottles before using them again.
  • Let the biodiesel dry. Put your homemade biodiesel in a clean container with no cover and let all the remaining water evaporate. Drying the biodiesel in an open container could take a few days. You will know that it is ready for use when it appears clear or translucent.

With just a few simple steps, you can have your diesel engine running on cheap soybean oil power. Not only is using soy biodiesel good for the environment, it is also good for your engine.


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