Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

AGW in general => Policy and solutions => Topic started by: Bruce Steele on July 29, 2017, 06:18:20 AM

Title: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: Bruce Steele on July 29, 2017, 06:18:20 AM
There are several biodiesel production technologies currently in use that can power heavy equipment on farms. Vegetable oil can be produced by cold press or solvent extraction techniques. Solvent extraction produces a higher oil to bulk seed ratio but requires extra steps to process flake and dry the bulk seed and requires extra steps to retrieve the solvent with stills . Methanol retrieval from the glycerine byproduct is another step requiring the use of a still, retrieval of methanol from glycerine is common in most biodiesel production operations.
Farmers can send their oil seed crops to oil extraction facilities or process with oil seed presses on farm.
Farming oil seed crops is dependent upon large tractors and combines and trucks to transport seed either into silos or to processing facilities. The oil produced can be distributed to restaurants for deep fryers and be reused later in biodiesel production.
 Oil production from various oil seed crops like soybeans, canola, safflower and sunflowers all require similar equipment but the size of the farm operation generally determines weather the farmer is required to send his crop away for processing or process on farm with all the extra processing machinery necessary for on farm oil production.
 I have described two oil production models that are determined by the amount of production and the size of the farm.
 Although these same techniques can be scaled down to very small farms but the combines required for harvest are never small or cheap and oil presses and dryers necessary are all expensive.
 I have been experimenting in biodiesel production from rendered pork fat because at very small scales you can avoid the costs of combines, large tractors, driers and oil presses. Buying the required methanol and sodium hydroxide is not difficult and there is the potential to produce both of those chemicals from scratch if necessary. I consider the scale of the various options as steps that can be repeated in various sizes of farm operations.  Under very extreme collapse scenarios biodiesel production still offers a potential way to power farm equipment.
 Just rough numbers but vegetable oil production is about 80 gallons per acre but I would defer to Sidd on more accurate numbers.
 One lardhog can produce about fifty pounds of extra fat along with about 180 lbs. of meat .
Here is a recipe for biodiesel from lard. I currently don't use solvents but oil quality would be better if I did. The biodiesel is still effective at running my old tractor but only during hot weather. (

Title: Re: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: sidd on July 29, 2017, 07:09:31 AM
If there is no objection, i would like to move a discussion from the "climate porn" vs "not alarmed enough" thread to this one.

Mr. Steele asked for my thoughts:

"I probably have a better idea about gallons of soy oil produced per acre, bio-diesel production per gallon of used oil and processing equipment required than most other readers here but if you could put some of those numbers down ... "

I will give you the point of view of a typical farmer, say one of my neighbors.

1) Soy is 15% oil. Canola is 40%. If i were maximizing oil production i would go canola, so let me work out on possible  use case for canola based on midwest climate.

2) what to sow ?  GMO or non GMO ? 23 % of all canola found by roads (uncultivated) in the USA  is GMO, just blown in. So if you go non GMO unless nobody has grown GMO canola around you for many years, you will have contamination. This is an issue. Monsanto will come after you. And you cant sell the grain or meal or oil as non GMO. Thats a 30%-70% price swing. Non GMO you cant use herbicide to knock down the weeds coz that will kill the canola too. (Herbicide application costs money, so thats an upside for nonGMO) Lets say you go nonGMO since you hate Monsanto and their ilk.

3) NonGMO you got to start early. Typically you might broadcast the seed into a standing soybean crop well before the first frost. You can combine the soy out over the canola seedlings, big soft tires wont hurt em too much. They got to get to at least that three leaf stage before the first frost or they will die overwinter. (You can go out into the fields in a hard frost and kick off the snow and ice and see em under there ... if they are green they got a chance, if they are black you need another plan ...) Why overwinter ? Coz you went nonGMO, cant use herbicide, so you need the canola to jump out early, shade out the weeds.

4) Fertilizer. Ideally you got animals for manure and your manure spreader. Or you can go the Ingraham compost methods. Or you use commercial fertilizer. Remember, you didnt fertilize the soy too much, since it makes its own nitrogen. But that dont last. Now you got to be careful here, dont want the fertilizer to run away into the streams in rainstorms, and frozen ground dont absorb either. You did leave the conservation strips by the streams, didnt you ? Some people spray pigshit and chickenshit, and that goes everywhere in wind, and comes off the ground if it dries out. So watch the weather, or did i say that already ?

5) Now you sit back an watch. Keep the animals out. As Mr. Steele says, farming is a brutal business. Killed 42 gophers around a ten acre field one year. Deer is another thing. Canola has yellow flowers and tiny tiny seeds in tiny tiny seed pods. Flowers go away, plant browns up, time to combine.

6) Harvest might be in june. Combine advice from ag outreach programs, is (i kid you not) is duct tape. Canola seed is tiny, under a millimeter, and there are many bigger holes in a typical combine. Tape everything in sight and have much more tape on hand to fix the little canola waterfalls you will see. The temperature will be a hundred in the shade, andnow you got a truck fulla canola. Leave it sit and it will catch fire as it composts at the bottom. There is lotsa oil there. You did remember to put the tube with the fan into the truck rite, to keep the air moving, cool it off ?

7) 50 lb/bushel canola 40% oil, you will get 35%  wiith cold press. You can go organic solvent (say xylene, expensive) to get it all but i dont, for reasons involving residues. So 50 lb/bushel. you get 17.5 gallons (US)  raw oil per bushel. Good year you will get 30 bushel per acre, say 70 gallons raw oil per acre. To keep this in perspective, when all is done and dusted, you will have burned 10 gallons diesel per acre, just on ag and transport alone. If you wanna go fullscale amish, make your own electric and such you will burn at least twice as much.

8) if you got old tractors and old combine, in summer i have seen raw oil poured into the tank. If you want biodiesel, 15% loss (but you get back that in glycerol.) if you send the oil thru food service, another 15% loss. Be careful making biodiesel, process might kill you in multiple ways.

9)there is much much more involved and i could go on forever. Each of the points above has minutae that are quite important and i have skipped very many things. But this post is too long as it is.

Title: Re: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: Bob Wallace on July 29, 2017, 08:16:01 AM
Soy is 15% oil. Canola is 40%.

Average yield per acre?  Soy isn't as oily but if the volume yield is 3x greater then soy wins.

Market for the soy residue?  (Protein for cattle feed.)
Title: Re: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: sidd on July 29, 2017, 07:59:11 PM
I left out a lot.

Soy yields more bushels/acre, but not wnuf ro make up the difference in oil content. In soy the majority of the value is in the meal, in canola the majority is in the oil. Canola oil is more expensive also.

Title: Re: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: sidd on February 06, 2019, 07:26:35 AM
I continue reply to Mr. Steele at,273.msg188245.html#new

in another thread here:

If you exhaust unused biod process methanol to the air you will need a permit, couple three hundred dollars a year, east of the Mississippi. Better to catch it back, this is what i do on smallscale (under couple thousand gallon batch)

1) capture all emissions out of process tanks passively (no pumps, just convection)

2) run thru a water cooled condenser

3) capture the drips of methanol

4) exhaust rest thru oneway valve

5) once a week at least, between batches, close off oneway valve and inlet and test for pressure integrity. If you do continuous process, then you got much more sophisticated equipment and blast proof doors on your methanol recovery anyway. Continuous is what i do for the big volumes.

6) nonsparking everything  in methanol recovery process room as outlined in referring post

and 7) i get the permit anyway, much easier than getting a violation tag from random inspection.


Title: Re: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: Bruce Steele on February 06, 2019, 11:22:55 AM
Sidd, I haven't gotten around to putting my leftover glycerin through a still but I can get by with 25-30 gallons of biodiesel for a years worth of tractor time in one batch. I use a reactor called an Appleseed bio reactor that I put together with a hot water heater plumbed with a recirculating pump, an inline thermometer and a view sight. It vents out the top but I will retrofit with a condenser as per your recommendation. I render lard in a pot , ladle it into a jerry can and carry it to the reactor at temp so I don't utilize the water heaters electric heating element.
 I don't need to do any of this except I am interested in zero carbon. I think I can produce methanol from wood gas and if I was hard pressed I could also make lye . It is all kinda mad scientist .
 We can burn wood piles on prescribed burn days but the fire marshal needs to inspect your pile first.
I prefer to chip and compost. Any smoke on days that aren't burn days can result in neighbors calling the fire department and with the fire conditions around here most of the year those concerns are more than warranted.
 I do have a farm insurance policy for my pigs. If one were to get out of the fence and get hit by a car and cause an accident I would get sued . The insurance carrier was worried about food safety issues with pigs and vegetables but they never outright stated as much. My farm is worth a lot of money so no I can't live without insurance either. The farm is the only thing I have worth anything other than a wife who puts up with me.
 The point of my last missive was the regulations to run a biodiesel plant, to collect grease , to run a still, or around here to make bio char far exceed the value of the 25-30 gallons of fuel I need to keep the garden plowed and sink some carbon. There are reasons nobody is zero carbon .
 If you get very small it isn't necessary to put in many road miles , you can feed yourself, sink carbon, and live a resonablely comfortable life. If you go full Amish and live somewhere where it rains you can use animal power but like everything else that option is limited by the growing conditions of where you live.
 Permits, taxes and insurance however require money and therein lies the rub. The system itself makes living small and zero carbon virtually impossible . If however those of us with the knowledge, skill sets,
physical strength , time , money and perseverance to pull together and document what is necessary to live a zero carbon life who will ?
 Risk doesn't scare me away, I am getting old and my body will eventually wear out. No point in getting into the weeds on personal health issues but eventually they get us all. By the way I meant hemp not Cannibus but they are the same thing except for the permits required and the THC content. Six plants with THC are legal around here, no permits, no questions so I guess going small is an option at least with weed.

Title: Re: Biodiesel farm production
Post by: sidd on February 06, 2019, 11:21:43 PM
Making lye from wood ash is a piece of cake. Methanol from a wood still ...  have to be quite careful.