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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Typically, if I get all the parameters right and avoid boil-over, it comes out with clear red ~ green tint. I'm learning new methods all the time so I'd expect to improve on this simply by trying a few things. Double distilling would be great for appearance so I wonder if the extra energy used would be worth it.
 

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Typically, if I get all the parameters right and avoid boil-over, it comes out with clear red ~ green tint. I'm learning new methods all the time so I'd expect to improve on this simply by trying a few things. Double distilling would be great for appearance so I wonder if the extra energy used would be worth it.
As long as it burns clean I wouldn't care what color it was.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
As long as it burns clean I wouldn't care what color it was.
Agreed. My diesel burns clean with no sooting of injectors and a clear exhaust. Except for color and aroma, it seems every bit as good as bought stuff, plus I can tweak the SG to suit exact conditions.
I'm cautiously optimistic that I solved the sediment fall out problem too with the settler and filter set up. So now I need to get to work on the new preheater, bigger gasjar and retort level indicator device. Another run is needed within a couple of weeks.
Another snippet of info is that the turk burner head injectors were found to be seized. Little wonder I suppose when the housing gets red hot!
 

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Clean burning fuel is good but pushing the envelope, learning more and taking it further is even better. What you have done here on this scale is pure genius.
How far does the flame travel on past the turk burner tank and do you think changing the turk burner tank size (bigger or smaller) will be better?
How full would be the ideal full level for the retort tank without getting boil over.
It will be interesting to see how you going to control the perfect full level considering the heat you dealing with inside the still.

Keep up the good work. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Thanks :thumbsup:

Turk burner flame travel length is unknown however the connecting pipe to the retort outer housing can be bright red hot. I regret not making the pipe a size bigger as I'm on the maximum heat much of the time and wanting more. Making the turk burner head bigger or smaller,,, I'm undecided but certainly that connecting pipe, it should be 4" not 3".

Full retort level height, I'm thinking about 300mm (12") below the flange.

Yes, the retort level device is proving difficult. The temperature conditions are so harsh which limits the materials I can use. I need to solve it urgently.
 

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I have been checking level switches out for the last few days and cant find anything that works higher than 200 degrees Celsius.
This is my idea but I don't know if it will work, you decide.
Remove the oil barrels and vermiculite from the retort, cut a 4" hole through the outer casing (lpg bottle), drill a hole in the 8mm pipe, get a thick wall seamless pipe or hollow bar that you weld in there, patch the lpg bottle with sheet metal that you weld back in, let the pipe intrude about 50mm into the retort vessel. You then extend that pipe about 2m from the tank horizontally, from there you 90 degree it up words till just above your full level mark, from there gravity will do the job. The vertical pipe can get a larger pipe around it, for running water through it to cool the oil.
Buy of eBay one of those stainless steel level switches, that go to 200 degrees, mount it on the end of the pipe to controlling the on/off switch of a pump to feed the vessel. Circulating the water through a cooler should cool it to below 200 degrees.
Then you can do a second hole for the oil feed line, but that pipe could run vertical on the outside of the lpg bottle, the heat should travel right through it.

Hope you understand what I'm saying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Thanks for the thoughts. It keeps me thinking.

Originally when I designed the retort, I was going to use 'bottom feed'. This would have presented an ideal opportunity to run a heavy-wall-pipe for remote level viewing. Came time to fabricate the vessel and I decided against having any pipework coming off it through the flame area. I might have been too cautious but if a pipe was to stress crack, raw vapor would enter the flame zone. There may be no way of stopping a major runaway fire.

Reviewing my PC folder for level sensors, these caught my eye:
Tuning fork level sensor
Magnetrol float level switch

I'm getting ready for another run next week. The preheater is nearly complete. I'm increasing the capacity of the gasjar. The existing retort level device will get some tweaking.

Thanks!
 

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Hi Excalibur how is the project coming along?
Have been doing some reading and would like to know if the terracotta that you are putting in the reflux is it there as a catalyst and have you got any pics of how it looks in the reflux after a run? Really want to know how full you make the reflux of terracotta and do you replace it every time?
When you leave your diesel for a week to stand does it get darker like when making diesel with plastics?
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Hi cousin larry
The run was delayed but some progress has been made on modifications, particularly the gasjar enlargement, feedstock preheater and its' feed pump. The feed pump is geared to closely match the rate the retort will evaporate at. If all goes well, the rate should be about 35 liters (US9.2gal) per hour.

The terracotta is often referred to as catalyst however the function may be more like a molecular sieve. More testing and comparison needs to be done but it appears to make a clear, cleaner diesel.
I think I did multiple runs on the same terracotta with the smaller prototypes but nowadays I'd more likely change it out before each new run. If everything goes to plan, the terracotta will see 400 liters. It takes up about 30% of the reflux volume.
There is no deterioration in color of the diesel that is left to stand. At least not that I've seen. I haven't seen the phenomena even with early runs on plastic or plastic/oil mixes. There is quite a lot of free carbon which settles out forming a black layer at the bottom of the holding vessel/tank.
So far a months' settling has been adequate which is a good saving on downstream filters.


A bucket of spent terracotta. Heat it up and it will flame away for some time on the diesel that's been soaked in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
Hi folks

I completed another run making about US65gallons. I tested a number of refinements to the plant however the most frustrating problem was boil-over so I'm studying closely solutions for it. It spoilt a good quantity of the diesel though I'm hoping to process it further and avoid the need for re-refining. The diesel product measured up at .845 Specific Gravity so is right in the zone for weight. By rights even if I do have to re-refine some, the boiling point should be somewhat lower than the waste wmo it was cracked from.
Many of you will have seen on my diydiesel blog about my trials using zeolite adsorbent to clean diesel discoloration and making it more translucent. Below is a pic of my latest experiment using micro-porous zeolite on diesel cracked from wmo. It shows before and after samples of the same diesel.
 

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That is a nice result there!
Did you put the zeolite inside the diesel like last time?
How about taking a filter bag, fill it up with zeolite, put it in a tube/cartridge, get a reservoir for the diesel, connect it to a hydraulic pump for circulation?
What heat do you think the oil needs too be to gas but not boil over.
Nice job.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Thanks
Yes, the good thing is that the result was obtained very quickly and with just a single pass. Basically I used a 3/4" water pipe x 5ft long, added a strainer to the exit end and filled with zeolite. Then I trickled the diesel through at its' own pace. I think multiple passes would be ideal. Incidentally, the earlier sample has continued to clear up as well.
Longer term, I'm going to make some housings that I can fill with zeolite and make it easy to swap fresh ones in. These would be placed in my filtration line, perhaps after the settler and 1µ bag filter.
OK, so the stuff is showing some good promise but there's still much to learn. Another good thing is there's a zeolite quarry about 60 miles away.


What heat do you think the oil needs too be to gas but not boil over.
716°F ~ 797°F (380°C ~ 425°C ) should be about right but if there's volatile fraction/s amongst the oil, then it will be lower.
 

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Wow! I can almost not believe that it changes so much color in one pass.
How light did the previous test get?
If you try too light the diesel with a match does it flame up or is it like pump diesel that is hard to light up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
This is a good result that shows that much of the work can be done quite quickly.
The earlier experiment with zeolite merely soaking in diesel done 2 months ago has continued to clear and brighten up to a brilliant ruby red. At first the jar would receive some agitation but since then it has sat undisturbed.
So it appears that the trickle through method and the soak method both have good points.
What is yet to be determined is how dirty diesel can be and still benefit from zeolite treatment without instantly clogging the porous material. Incidentally the diesel used for the test was cracked in my Orion retort from particularly dirty wmo that was probably diesel engine oil. The retort process reduced the viscosity to a diesel weight fuel.

My diesel is like pump diesel in that it is below flash point at ambient temperature. FYI, Wiki defines flash point as: The flash point of a volatile material is the lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air. Measuring a flash point requires an ignition source.
No2 diesel flash point is about 52°C (125°F) according to Engineeringtoolbox.com

Before I run the retort again I've given myself a sizeable list of improvements and modifications to complete including a preheater on the exhaust stack, thermocouple mods, insulation and burner automation.
 

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Thanks for taking the time to share all you wisdom and experience.
I have been motivated by you're build so much that I started collecting parts for my own tower.
My flame/heat is a old boiler furnace burner that has a oil pump mounted on the side. When I was doing research on a other forum one guy said that the burner unit will melt when it goes off in a heat control mode, because nothing is pushing the heat out, the heat will drop and start melting the parts. What do you think?

It would be greatly appreciated if you could put more pics of your weight control system and info of how it works on you're blog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
It's my pleasure to help.

Might I suggest to start with a small system. It's a good way to learn the basics. Distilling and cracking isn't as easy as it looks. Still, anyone has to start somewhere. My current set up is a mk6, yeah there was 5 others before this! With each one I learnt a bit and took another step. First up don't complicate things with gasjars, balance scales, preheaters etc, start small and simple. Above all else, please be safe.

The old boiler furnace burner,,, is that what's commonly called a gun-burner? ,, runs on diesel? ,, often used as central heaters? Perhaps post a pic. So if it is, then that would be my heat source of choice because you can make the fuel to run it and they are efficient. They have an igniter and some safety features like flame sensor.
I don't see there being a problem with heat melting any parts of those burners especially because the flue stack will have its' own draft so even if the fan stopped, the flue draft would pull heat away.

Yes, ok I'll post pics etc of the balance scale system once the rain quits. Also I want to update the gasjar pics which I promised to someone else.
 

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The units speed can be set by a knob but there is no self ignite, I will have to buy a ignition and then custom mount it.
The motor speed gets controlled by a switch and would need to be automated.
I got a 8mm x 250mm x 1600mm pipe for the retort, basically copying your unit.

Why do you want to preheat you're exhaust stack?
 
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