The composition of a knave (polyanarch) wrote in biodiesel,
The composition of a knave

cold fuel

Today I got my car out and drove it around a bit more. I'm still on the same tank of B50 that I had in it last Novemeber. It's down to less than 1/4 so I figured I'd drive around a little today and find some cheap fuel and put 5-gallons of dino in and then come home and use one of the 5-gallon cans of B100 I bought last November to make my own B50. I noticed last week that the stuff was THICK and had yellow waxy glop stuck to the sides and the spout inside. Looks like Glycerin to me. I brought it inside all day to warm up (I have heated floors) but at 60-degrees it is nice and thin but I STILL see little floaters in there and there is some stuff on the inside of the can causing shadows when I shine a light through it.

I bought this stuff commercially from PrairieFire BioDiesel Coop in Madison, WI. I've stored it in sealed 5-gallon plastic Diesel cans (nearly brand new) and all 4 cans were stored in my unheated garage. I can understand it gelling but this seems like it is more than that. I wiped off the yellow goop from the spout with a paper towel and laid it out in the sun. It's 40-degrees out but it didn't melt and is still in the paper towel. I think this is too much glycerin. I didn't use the stuff although it's the same stuff that I mixed my B50 with last November and I've not had any troubles although I did put anti-gel in it and a scootch of marvel.

I might wait until summer and see if it is any better and if not I'm going to take it back up to WI and ask them about it. I suspect it might be better at 80-degrees this summer and I can burn it up.

Unfortunately all the Dino-D I could find in the chicago area is ULSD. So now I've got that in the tank I want to not switch back and forth. I've got all brand new Viton seals in my IP when I had it rebuilt. I hope the ULSD doesn't effect it again. I think it will be OK as long as I'm not switching back and forth causing the seals to swell and contract. The car is 24 years old and I don't want to take any more chances (or pay another $525 to have my pump rebuilt AND have to pull it off again. What a PITA that was. That timing belt isnt coming off for another 60K! (Camry Diesels don't have ANY room to do the TB change)
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The stuff I just got from PrairieFire is _NOT_ winterized. That could be part of it. I also bought a bottle of additive from them -- can't recall what it is, but it lowers the freezing point by about 4-6 degrees (which makes all the difference here in Milwaukee) and claims to be able to remove water from fuel. I'm currently running ~B33 in my '06 TDi, and I tell ya, with the additive, it feels better than ever.
Back when it was below zero last week I opened up one of the jugs and it was like lemon/orange sorbet inside... I dont' think 4-6 degrees would help much. But that same week I was running the same stuff in my tank that I had mixed with dino for B50 and put anti-gel inside and it started and ran fine. Not even a flicker from my "check filter" light. I guess mixing with dino REALLY helps the anti-gel do its thing. I'm just a bit scared now after seeing the crystals floating around even at 60-degrees. I'll wait until this summer to burn it I guess. I just like having extra fuel around in jugs "just in case" TSHF and fuel is hard to find. I lived through the gas lines in the 70's and the people freaking out after 911 and even after Katrina. I always have fuel around and diesel keeps forever...
PFBF fuel is not winterized, and even winterized biodiesel will still have a higher gel temp than petro. With the temps well below freezing the last month or so, I've had a hard time getting my truck to start with pure evil, er, petro, so I'm mixing with the forecasts once they start looking warmer.
Oops, almost forgot.

PFBF fuel is very consistent, as it is made at a large commercial plant owned by Landmark, not made in someones garage or whatever. What you are experiencing is entirely temp related. Warm that stuff up and give it a shake and itll be fine to burn. Don't sweat mixing with the new petro either, it's all good, been switching back and forth with zero problems myself as the temps go up and down. Hope this helps. =]
So what I am seeing is not huge glycerin deposits falling out of the fuel? I dont' know exactly what glycerine feels like but this is waxy/soapy goop that doesn't really want to re-constitute even at 60-degrees. I guess I could let it sit inside all day and warm up then pour into my half-tank of dino (this is what I had in mind when I only filled up half-way of my 11-gallon fuel tank)
That is probably what you are seeing, from the sound of it. Warm it back up gently, swish it back together, and you should be fine, especially putting it back in with petro. If you fear problems, filter it first. =]
How long should it take in the warm (room temp) should it take for it all to melt back together? If I let it warm up for 24 hours should that be enough for a good swish make it all clear oil again with no floating yellow bits?

I don't have much for filtration capabilities. No pump, no external filters. I'm not a used oil guy by any means. I have 2 extra fuel filters for my car but I'm afraid to let my GF drive my car to work when she needs a real car (hers is a Miata) to pick something up because she can't change the filter and I don't need her stranded in rush-hour Chicago traffic 20 miles from home with bad fuel or gummed filter.

What can I throw together as a filter? Any household suggestions?

Re: OK


11 years ago


Is there any additive you can put in to stop it from gelling at temperatures around the freezing point of water?
Hmm.. the gel point is around 20 or 25, if I recall correctly, so a little below water. There are additives like Heet that you can add to diesel to lower that, but to be sure I'd ask bigger BD heads than me, down at the co-op. =]
I haven't heard of any additives for _BIO_diesel yet (emphasis blatantly added), but you can add a petroldiesel anti-gelling additive to the car's tank, and that will help everything.
So the clumping you are seeing isn't Glycerin. In the lab, and therefore in any place you would buy the BD, you would wash the BD and separate the Glycerin out of it. No way can they pas the ASTM standard for free Glycerol and still have that much left in there. The problem is storage. What you are seeing is oxidative degradation. If you want a more chemical answer I can give it to you, but the problem really is that if you have the BD siting in tanks which are not sealed air tight you will see this happen. Basically the methyl esters (which is the Biodiesel) is changing its structure because Oxygen molecules are attacking it. Also, if it was glycerol it would be sitting on the top or the bottom. So, one way to get rid of these "little floaters" is to filter it, but like I said if its not sealed will happen sooner or later. Polyunsaturated esters (so methyl esters which have one or two double bonds) are more susceptible to this process. When it starts happening you produce Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 and that attack other molecules. When you heat up the BD to really high temperatures you can start braking those double bonds, but by then I think the damage is done! Hehe, sorry if that was too much chem crap. Let me know what the Co-op people say!
I let it sit inside for 12 hours and it all went away. I think it was just taking longer to warm up. I guess I underestimated how long it was taking 5 gallons of heavy fluid to reach room temp.

The 5-gallon plastic cans I have are air-tight. The spouts have good O-rings and are brand new (first time they were used) The PFBD guy filled them up fairly full and only left a little bit of head space for air on top. This was only 3 months ago.

If commercially-produced BioD can't sit in sealed container for 3 months in ordinary everyday temperatures (even if it IS cold) then it doesn't have any future as an automotive fuel. I hate to say that.

It looks fine now. I'm going to put it into the car and hope for the best. I want to pull another can out of my garage and let it warm up then mix 50/50 between the 2 cans and put anti-gel in one and none in the other and observe the difference over the next month. This will help me see what is going on as I can't see inside the car's tank. I suspect that without 3 months of time and below-zero temps I won't see any more stuff floating around.

At one time last week when the temps were below zero I pulled the cap off of one of the cans and the entire contents were like hardened margarine. Heck, this stuff even kind of SMELLS like butter. I wonder what kind of oil it was made out of.

I'm still experimenting with BioD. I really hope it works out but I don't have enough personal data to put my personal stamp of approval on it.
I think your method sounds good! I would love to know what happens to the two new cans (nerd in me does anyway)! But the point is that you hit the Herculean effort which is happening in the lab as we speak - how do we get the cloud point down far enough for this stuff to be usable in sub zero weather. One thing that may be interesting to try is additive esters. Your car will still burn it, and there is a company called Ethos which sells this stuff as a lubricant. Anyway I am glad that the goops went away, but I am pretty sure it wasn't glycerin because no place would/or should sell you BD if it still has that my glycerin in it. The other thing is that you just reached the cloud point of that BD and it started solidifying...problem problems! But people like me need people like you because that the reason why I stay in the lab and work on this until 11 PM at night! Seriously though, I hope this does work out because its so good for us! Also, since most dairy companies use Canola Oil for their butter I am betting its canola in there. Let me know how it turns out!

I have 1 empty can and 1 warming can inside and 2 still cold and totally hardned BioD still outside (consistancy of sorbet even after being over 40 the last few days)

My experiment (and I hope it gets cold one more time) will be to compare one jug of 50/50 with anti-gel with another jug of 50/50 without and one jug of "melted" pure biodiesel with one jug of deep-frozen never-thawed and see if there is a difference between the 4. I have a hunch that the anti-gel will do a good job with the mix even if it gets down to 10-degrees again but the other mixed stuff I don't know. The Dino-Diesel itself probably was winterized to some degree and that might help with the bio mixed in.

As for the other pure bio jugs. I think the one that was deep frozen will not clear up until it warms up to 60 degrees for an entire day as that is what it takes to get them to clear up inside. The one that is melted will probably perform better as long as it doesn't get REALLY cold again and be totally re-solidified.

I'll keep you all informed. Let's hope it gets cold again one more time or this will not show me much at all. It IS still February right??? If it doesn't get cold again I'll blame it on my GF who just got snow tires on her car yesterday...
Viton comes in several grades; A, B, F, GF and GFLT. DuPont recommends only A401-c, GF and GFLT, and does not recommend B or F for use in contact with either biodiodiesel or ethanol.