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How to Perform an Accurate Biodiesel Test

Performing an accurate biodiesel test is a very important step in the process of manufacturing your own fuel at home. Biodiesel test kits are available for purchase and it may be beneficial to perform your own biodiesel quality test as well. Due to the hazardous nature of the chemicals involved in this process, accurate testing and results will provide you with peace of mind and help to avoid potentially dangerous mishaps.

Step 1 - Getting Started

It's important to begin the process of creating your own fuel by making small biodiesel test batches with different types of oil. Since certain types of oil may not always be readily available, this process will familiarize you with any difference in process among the acceptable oils, plus give you an idea of how to work with certain peculiarities that some oils may produce. Begin with new, uncooked oil, such as canola, rapeseed, corn, soy or sunflower oil, and purchase the highest quality ingredients available. Once you have mastered these tests, you can move on to testing with used cooking oils. Remember that safety is of utmost concern when handling chemicals and fuel. Always wear protective gear and have running water, vinegar and a fire extinguisher handy.

Step 2 - The Wash Test

Once you have created a batch of fuel, the first biodiesel test you'll want to perform is known as a wash test. After the biodiesel has been left to settle for a period of at least 12 hours, remove the layer of glycerine and pour 150ml of the fuel into a jar with a lid. Add 150ml of room-temperature water and screw the lid on tightly. Vigorously shake the mixture for a period of 10 seconds, and then allow it to settle. In less than a half hour, the fuel should separate from the water, leaving cloudy water on the bottom and clean biodiesel on top. If only a paper-thin layer is between the fuel and water, your mixture has passed the test.

Step 3 - The Methanol Test

Another biodiesel test that can be performed to check quality is the methanol test. Mix 25ml of biodiesel with 225ml of methanol in a measuring glass. The fuel should be fully soluble in the methanol and result in a clear and bright mixture. If there is undissolved material at the bottom of the glass, the reaction is incomplete and your fuel should be reprocessed. This test is only valid for fuel created from vegetable and animal oils, and is meant only to give hints as to a possible problem with the mixture.

Step 4 - Additional Testing Options

Biodiesel test kits and equipment are commercially available for purchase. As a beginner, you'll likely want to perform the above tests first, using high quality chemicals and ingredients to cut down on inaccurate results. As you move forward with your project, you can purchase test kits that will verify the quality of your fuel or equipment, such as a near infrared spectroscopy to analyze and measure the conversion of your oils to biodiesel fuel.