Fuel Collection and Filtration Overview.

 

One man's trash is another man's fuel.

 

Clean fuel is essential to operating your Greasecar reliably. A well thought out plan on how you are going to transform waste oil into clean and inexpensive fuel will dramatically increase your success with Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO). You should ONLY use vegetable oil on converted diesel engine’s, otherwise you will run the risk of ruining your engine (gas engines cannot be modified to use WVO).

 

Terminology:

·          Pre-filtration

Is the process of transforming waste into fuel. To do so you must separate the water, food particles, and hydrogenated oils from the oil you want to use as fuel. Most pre-filtration systems use, heat, gravity and time to get the job done.

·          Fuel Filter

This filter lives under the hood of your vehicle and filter’s out any last second junk that might have gotten into the fuel after you’ve poured the fuel into your tank and before it goes into the engine.

To produce quality fuel, you will need:

·          Asource of good oil

Good oil contains no water, no bacteria and very little solid matter.Pre-filtering heavily contaminated oil is more time, trouble and money than it’s worth. If you live with in the delivery zone of a company like SmarterFuel you can get professionally filtered oil delivered to your door. 

·          An efficient pre-filtration system

A pre-filtration system handles the process of separating water, food particles, and hydrogenated oils from the good stuff.

 

Side note: A good measuring stick for the quality of your source and the effectiveness of your pre-filtration system is your fuel filter. The longer your fuel filter lasts the better your source and pre-filtration system is. The average source and pre-filtration system should get you about two thousand miles out of your fuel filter. Professionally filtered oil will get you around ten thousand miles.


Waste Oil Sources

There are three main sources of unfiltered waste oil:

·          Oildistributors

Large oil distributors often have off-spec or dregs oil that requires disposal. These companies are hard to find but can potentially provide several thousand gallons per month. The oil has not been used for cooking and usually requires minimal processing. Only large consumers, capable of committing to take ALL of their oil, should consider contacting such sources

·          Snack food companies

Snack food companies also produce large quantities of oil. It has been used for cooking but is generally much cleaner than restaurant waste oil. Many larger snack food companies do not dispose of their frying oil on a regular basis. They only have oil to dispose of when there is a problem and a fryer needs to be drained. This may happen a few times a year requiring 500-2,500 gallons of oil to be disposed of. Again, only persons with capability of handing this much oil on a single pickup should consider contacting these sources.

·          Restaurants

Restaurants are the most common source of waste oil. A good rule of thumb is the better the restaurant, the better the oil. You’ll want to find a place that changes their oil often and does not fry a lot of heavily battered foods – flour in the oil can clog a filter very quickly. Also make sure that the water used to wash the fryers does not get mixed in with the waste oil, and that the oil is stored indoors or in water-tight containers.

·          Other sources

People with turkey fryers, local carnivals and fairs


Oil Quality

 

There are several important factors to consider when judging oil quality:

If the oil or the storage container has a rancid odor or a foamy surface it is likely that it is contaminated with water, bacteria and fungus from their grill grease traps.

 

·          Water

It is imperativethat your fuel contains no water. Water can cause rapid engine and injection pump damage. Make sure your oil source stores their oil indoors or in a water-tight container. To test for water, let a batch of oil settle for 24 hours in a clear container. Water will form a layer at the bottom. It is complicated, time-consuming and unreliable to separate the water from your oil. Instead, find a source of oil that contains no water.

 

·          Bacterial contamination

Bacterial contamination can be identified by a rancid odor or a foamy surface. Do not use rancid or contaminated oil. If you are reusing a container that held rancid oil, add a biocide to your oil and to your vehicle’s fuel tank. Marinas and boating supply stores often carry biocides for use in marine applications.

 

·          Cleanliness

Your oil should be translucent and amber in color and should contain as little solid matter as possible. Watch out for oil that was used to cook heavily battered foods; the flour can clog a filter very quickly.

 

Oil Types

 

You will encounter three different types of oil:

·          Pure or non-hydrogenated oil

Pure or Non-hydrogenated oil is the idealfuel for your Greasecar. It will range in color from dark amber to light gold, with no white layers.

 

·          Hydrogenated oil

Hydrogenated oil can be thick or solid at temperatures as high as 100ºF. Because of this, transfer and filtration is exceedingly difficult. Hydrogenated oil is not recommended for use with the Greasecar system.

 

·          Partially hydrogenated oil (also known as creamy oil)

Partially Hydrogenated oil is a mixture of pure and hydrogenated oils and should be avoided if at all possible. It can be identified by the thick white layer of hydrogenated oil at the bottom of settled containers. It is possible to pour or pump out the upper layer of pure oil, but this adds a potentially very messy step, and storage and disposal of the hydrogenated layer will always be an issue.

Hydrogenated and Non-hydrogenated Oil


Restaurant Storage Containers

 

Restaurants usually store their waste oil in one of three different types of containers:

 

·          Dumpsters

Dumpsters can hold several hundred gallons, a volume which can offer the benefit of settling. In a full dumpster, the first couple of feet of oil are often very clean. Make sure the dumpster has a water-tight lid that is properly closed to keep out rainwater and debris. Always draw oil from just below the surface; contaminants will have settled to the bottom.

 

·          Barrels

Barrels are commonly 55-gallon drums. Often the lid is not secure and the oil contains rainwater and debris.

 

·          Jugs

These are the 4.5-gallon, 35-lb. jugs that fresh oil is delivered in. Often, used oil is drained

 back into these containers for disposal. Since they are clear, it’s easy to check the quality of the oil inside. They are also very portable.

 

Arranging Oil Pick-up from a Restaurant

 

There are several key things to keep in mind when approaching a restaurant for access to their waste oil:

·          Be professional and organized

Although no money is changing hands, you are proposing a business relationship with the source. Call ahead and set up a meeting, or approach the manager during a quiet period, rather than interrupting during a lunch or dinner rush. Bring a copy of this manual or other literature to help them understand what you intend to do.

·          Be respectful and courteous

Don’t act like you’re doing them a favor; you may be saving them money, but they’re providing you with a service in return. Assure them that the restaurant’s efficient operation is a priority and that your oil collection will not disturb their patrons or distract their employees. The storage containers usually belong to the rendering company that has an agreement with the restaurant to collect their oil. You should always contact the restaurant before taking oil out of these containers as it could be considered stealing by the rendering company.

·          Plan ahead

Come prepared with ideas for filtration, pickup and storage, and propose a pickup schedule based on the amount of oil they produce. See the section below for information on collecting and transporting waste vegetable oil from the restaurant.

 


Collection and Transportation

 

It’s important that your oil collection is clean and efficient. Good planning can make this process fairly quick and simple:

·          Pump, don’t pour.

Whenever possible, use a pump to transfer oil from one container to another. Spills are inevitable when pouring. A 12-volt pump can be fitted to your vehicle to facilitate oil transfer from large containers into portable ones. Pumping will be impossible in cold weather, however, so unless you can get the oil while it’s hot, see if you can arrange to have the fryers drained into portable containers.

·          Using plastic jugs

Restaurants will often drain their used oil back into these containers for disposal. This is convenient, but the plastic jugs puncture easily and will not tolerate hot oil. Don’t reuse them for very long.

·          Using metal gas cans

Metal gas cans are available from hardware and department stores, and it may be possible to have the fryers drained directly into these. Many restaurants filter their oil for reuse at the end of the day, so it’s sometimes possible to arrange for it to be filtered first as well. Restaurant filters are too coarse for fuel use, but this pre-filtration will extend the life of your finer filters and eliminate large food particles.

·          Carry the following items:

           - Gloves

           - Rags and paper towels

           - Cleaning agent

           - Kitty litter (to absorb any spills)

           - A tarp or cardboard (to help keep your vehicle clean)

           - Some literature explaining Greasecar basics (to ward off inquisitive bystanders)

 

Designing a Filtration System

 

There are many different choices to make in designing an efficient home filtration system. Excellent, comprehensive home filtration systems are available from Greasecar, but many people elect to build their own. There are several key components in every successful home filtration system:

 

Stationary Filtration Kit

 

Onboard filter and pump

 

·          Pumps

It’s important to choose the right pump for the job. Choose a pump rated for waste oil or diesel transfer.

 

-         Electric pumps are the most common choice. You can use a 12-volt DC pump on board your vehicle or plug a 110-volt AC pump into the wall socket at home. Prices range from fifty to several hundred dollars.

-         Hand-operatedpumps are driven by a lever or crank and can be quite a workout. To make sure you’re getting a sturdy one, spend at least $50.

-         Air-drivenor pneumaticpumps can be safely used with viscous liquids with little risk of damage. Pneumatic pumps are driven by an air compressor.

 

·          Filters

Filters come in a large variety of sizes, styles and ratings.

 

-         The micron ratingof a filter tells you the size of the particles it will filter out. (One micron is one thousandth of a millimeter.) You will want to filter your oil to five microns. An absoluteratingmeans it will filter more than 95% of the particles it’s rated for. A nominal ratingmeans it will catch a far lower percentage, and oil should be run through it twice or three times.

-         Bag filterslike the one included with the kit are designed to be used inside a pressurized canister, and the larger sizes are suitable for gravity filtration as well. To speed this process, heat the oil to 110-130ºF before pouring it into the filter.

-         Inline filters, like the onboard system, require a pump to force the oil through them. Do not use motor oil filters, as they contain an internal pressure relief valve that will allow the oil to bypass the filter when they begin to clog.

-         Old Jeans and T-shirts can be used as a pre-filter to remove larger food particles and extend the life of your filter

 

·          Heaters

If you use a steel barrel for oil storage, you can use a barrel heater to heat the oil for transfer or filtration. These are included in Greasecar home filtration kits but can be hard to find elsewhere.

·          Containers

If you need to store your oil, a common choice is a reconditioned 55-gallon drum with a secure lid. These are readily available for around $20 from a local barrel supplier. Check the yellow pages for contact information.

Storage for long periods of time can be accomplished with a sealed container, moderate temperatures, and a dose of biocide to prevent bacterial contamination.

 

 

Recap

  •          Always use non-hydrogenated oil
  •          Use the best quality oil possible, it requires less filtration
  •          Always draw oil from just below the surface
  •          Time spent setting up a good filtration system is time saved!
  •          Be respectful to business owners when acquiring waste vegetable oil
  •          Use the cleanest most convenient filtration method to meet your needs
  •          Industrial-scale oil processors like SmarterFuel produces a higher quality oil than is possible in home filtration systems

 

 

Dirty fuel is the leading cause of problems with poor vehicle performance, so a good filtration system is the key to reliable operation. There will be an initial learning curve, but you’ll soon find that independent control of your fuel supply is a highly rewarding experience.

 

Copyright © Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems, LLC 2007