Vegetable Oil Filtration

Vegetable Oil Filtration

 

Vegetable Oil Filtration is a crucial step to fueling your vehicle with WVO or SVO – waste or straight vegetable oil. Vegetable Oil Filtration can be time consuming, expensive, and messy without the right equipment or know how.
Gain clean fuel and loose the frustration with vegetable oil filtration technologies!
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Use the ultimate WVO Pump to transfer the oil to your settling tank or diesel conversion kit tank.
Once you have gathered the oil, use Vegetable Oil Filters to clean it on the go.
Or use an Oil Centrifuge to filter particles and water out of the oil, which is gravity fed and built for volume.

How to Find Good WVO

This is a comprehensive guide for how to find, filter, and ask for wvo (waste vegetable oil).
Vegetable-Oil-FiltrationTo be clear, we are talking about cooking oil that restaurants use to fry food in – commonly referred to as WVO. The WVO is disposed of into barrels or vats/traps/dumpsters of different sizes, somewhere behind the building, sometimes next to recycling or trash receptacles.
Generally Chinese food buffets are the first place worth looking for great oil. This is because they use a lot of oil, usually with lightly battered food so there is not much debris in the oil. The oil also tends to be changed regularly, which means cleaner oil and more of it! Many mini-malls or shopping centers in America have one of these buffets, or smaller Asian restaurants with great oil.
In general smaller restaurants or bakeries with high quality ethnic food and with owners who really care about food quality will have better quality WVO. Use Google searches, the phonebook, or your GPS to locate restaurants in your area.
Some truck stops will surprise you with barrels of golden fuel! But some on the other hand are complete nightmares. Some fine bakeries have a worthy supply, however Donut places usually do not, as all of the oil soaks into the donuts. Also check behind grocery stores which have a hot foods department. Fish Fry places sometimes can be tricky as frozen fish often holds lots of water, which is a challenge to filter and is discussed more below. 
On the other end of the spectrum, oil from fast food places is usually quite horrible. In most cases it is not even worth checking unless you are in serious need of oil and/or an intense vegetable oil filtration setup. Every once in a while you may get surprised, however usually the oil is thick and creamy, full of junk, and not worth the time or hassle to attempt to filter. This is because they usually start with the worst quality thick hydrogenated oils, and cook tons of food in it over a maximum period of time. (Makes you question eating there!)

Vegetable Oil Filtration Video shows an Oil Hunt

More Sources of Oil

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Some find it perfect to grow their own fuel and use an oil expeller press to harvest the oil.
Soybeans, jatropha, palm, and hemp, sunflower, and safflower seeds are popular choices. Some have used oil from nuts, avocados, or coconuts. Your imagination and access to oil types is the limit, as any plant oil will work to fuel a diesel engine that has a diesel conversion kit installed, as long as proper WVO Filtration has taken place beforehand!
Algae is quickly gaining more attention in this group of oil crops as research shows it to have many times more yield without as much of the toil and time as well as for less than the cost of soil based crops. Plus algae biofuel does not compete with food supply for oil.
Cottonseed produces oil also and it is generally not food grade, so you can find companies that collect cotton waste from farmers and presses it for between $1-2.50 per gallon.
Not only plant oils can be used, animal oils can also be used for fuel, as long as it is filtered well. One man in the UK uses duck drippings from a factory as his fuel source, and has been very pleased with the results.
There are also some people or companies who sell used filtered vegetable oil by the gallon, as well as friendly co-ops who may have free or cheap oil. Here is a handy worldwide oil locator map with some options!

How to Ask for the Oil

Vegetable-Oil-Filtration-4Before you ask for the oil, make sure it is a good enough source to collect by taking a peak at it. After checking this out, make sure you ask an owner or manager of the restaurant, or at least someone with some authority in the kitchen staff, before you begin collecting the oil. They are usually happy to let it go, as most owners pay to have it removed!
So once you have determined the oil is worth collecting, you can usually knock on the back door or catch someone who is on their way to throw out trash or to have a break, and ask for their permission, or for someone who can give you permission.
Remember that whoever you talk to is busy running a business, so may not want to be bothered much. Be brief, clear, and above all friendly! You may want to keep “the benefits of a Diesel Conversion Kit” speech to a minimum. Even though you are excited about driving on a recycled, renewable, low-emission, domestic fuel, etc, they have work to do. Let them ask you the questions if they are interested.
Ask for the oil confidently and politely, promising that you will be quick and you will not leave a mess. “Hello, do you mind if I have some of your waste grease? I am using it for a biofuel project. I have a pump, I promise to be quick and clean up after myself.” Sometimes you’ll even get interested cooks or owners who come out and watch the show!

Securing the Oil

If you live in the town where you are collecting, or are the personable type, you may wish to do more than just knock on the back door. It can be a very nice gesture to first eat at the restaurant to show gratitude in advance, then request a manager to come to the table at which time you can compliment the food and service, and also ask for the oil.
You may even wish to sign an agreement with the location that you will pick it up regularly – they may be interested to have it go for free or perhaps will pay you to collect if you’re diligent and dependable! In any event, remember where you find good oil, as there’s a good chance that they will have it again.
Consequences for just taking the oil can be security or police called, so be smart. Sometimes you can explain what you are doing to them and there is no issue at all. But some consider it theft to remove the oil without having explicit permission, so be mindful of this.
A few companies who collect the oil can be very protective of it as they often sell it for additives to pet food, industrial use, makeup, pesticides, or even biodiesel. Depending on the market conditions, in rare cases these collection companies may sometimes pay the owner of the restaurant to collect it! So you can see why it is the best practice to ask first.
If you see a lock on the container, it is behind a fence, or has a huge ‘stay away from our grease’ type of sticker – you may just have to go elsewhere. Please be aware that some states or countries may have restrictions or regulations on who can pick up vegetable oil, and may require a special handler’s license. Organic Mechanic cannot be held responsible for your decisions on how and where to collect vegetable oil, and it is your responsibility to make sure you are following applicable laws and best practices.

 

Checking out the WVO

Vegetable-Oil-Filtration-2Water and particles are heavier than oil, so will settle to the bottom of the container in time. Make sure you ALWAYS collect oil from the top of any container for this reason. Find the settle line where the good oil ends and bad oil begins, and stop collecting before you reach that point. Poking a stick to the bottom of the container can let you feel where the settle line is and how far down you have decent oil. This may stir the oil up, so be gentle.

Gravity is a friend to vegetable oil filtration, so the longer it can sit and settle for you, especially in a black or dark colored container in the sun, the better. The additional heat will accelerate the separation of the good and the bad. Make sure that the container is fully covered so that no rain or moisture 

Quality of WVO

The best oil source you find is obviously one which requires the least amount of wvo filtration. Here are some tips to evaluate the oil you come across:

Color: When choosing the oil you will collect, the color does not matter much – good veggie can be dark like pancake syrup, yellowish, or light brown. You should probably stay away from vegetable oil that is greenish, or smells terribly rancid (although some of these holding tanks will just smell a little funny.)

Clarity: What is more important than the color is the clarity. If the veggie looks milky, or is full of debris, move on; there are plenty of other spots to check out. One of the best tests to determine the quality of oil is to dip your finger or a stick into the oil, draw it out, and put it up to the light to let it drip. Can you see through the droplets relatively well? Look for particles suspended in the oil – are there a lot in there, or is it closer to free and clear? Try at home with clean oil first to see how it looks. Cloudy oil is often bad news.

Consistency: The drip test will also determine how well the oil flows, which could indicate how much debris or water is in the oil. If it is warm outside the oil should be entirely liquid, and drip like oil instead of run like water or glob like gravy.  STAY AWAY from creamy and thick oil, it is not worth your best wvo filtration efforts! 

Water in WVO

Take care when collecting WVO as it may contain water, which should not be in the fuel system of your vehicle. Dealing with water in oil is the most advanced skill required to learn in vegetable oil filtration. The best strategy is to choose oil wisely from the start, instead of having to filter the water out. 

Oil that appears creamy or cloudy may have water.
There are two types of water in oil: free and suspended. Free water is that which is not mixed thoroughly into the oil. A Waterblocker Filter will capture this type of water very well, and will clog when it is full – disallowing any more fluids to pass through.
Suspended water is the other type, which occurs when water is mixed more thoroughly with the oil, may make its way through a waterblocker element. This oil should be avoided if you are collecting oil on the go, as settling and heating must be applied to remove this type of water.
Settling the oil for a few days is always one of the best filtration strategies, for water and particles. Keep the oil covered in a black container and in the sun, as the solar heat will thin the oil and naturally accelerate the separation of the bad stuff to the bottom of the container. A valve on the bottom of the container can allow you to drain off this unusable stuff and dispose of it.
It can be challenging to tell if there is water in the oil. If it has rained recently, or the lid is off when you get there, be cautious. Once you get familiar with the appropriate consistency of good oil, you will begin to notice the possible presence of water. Typically water in oil makes it appear creamier. There are tricky circumstances however when oil may look really good, but will actually be thinner because of it being mixed with water.
Rub the oil between your fingers to see if you can tell that there is water mixed in with the oil. If you have any doubts, do a test or move on. To test for water in oil, heat a small sample on a hotplate or pan. If there are significant pops and sizzles, water is present.

Minimizing Vegetable Oil Filtration Mess

Vegetable Oil is very sticky on any surface it comes in contact with. It will stain clothing and fabric, as well as garage floors, driveways, and wood. Be aware of this when filtering as minor precautions can save you a lot of mess.

For instance, wear gloves (lifesavers), and throw on a jumpsuit or wear clothes that can get dirty. While filtering wait for pumps to stop and drips to fall before moving hoses. Put down cardboard or a plastic sheet down around the area where you are filtering, or choose an area that is okay to get messy, or can be power-washed later to be cleaned.

Vegetable-Oil-Filtration-5Clean your filtration gear off with a degreaser every so often, such as Greased Lightening which is available at any store with an automotive section, and give it a quick paper towel or rag wipe-down after each collection for cleanest use. Keeping the WVO Filtration equipment covered in it’s own container inside your trunk or truck bed is a smart move.

 

 

 

 

Operating a GreaseBeast or Inline Filtration Solution

The GreaseBeast Filtration Unit will provide you with thousands upon thousands of gallons of clean vegetable oil for your biofuel needs. We have over a dozen years of combined experience collecting and filtering waste vegetable oil, and have found how it can be accomplished with relative ease, minimum mess, and reasonable savings and speed. Flip the switch, and Vegetable Oil is powered through the GreaseBeast, emerging as fuel grade (when the correct oil is chosen to begin with – the GreaseBeast cannot turn bad oil into good oil.)

The GreaseBeast is designed to remove particulate matter from vegetable oil down to 1 micron – which is a unit of measurement meaning 1 one-thousandths of an inch in size. Most diesel vehicles run fuel filters that are between 5-15 microns, so 1 Micron is very safe. Your vegetable oil conversion system should still have a final heated fuel filter onboard before the fuel goes into your engine. It is recommended to have one with waterblocking capabilities to ensure the best protection of your engine.

This unit removes particles, not water – more discussion below. With correct knowledge and use, the GreaseBeast will be your “On the Go” tool for collecting free fuel. It is the device we could only dream of when we first began using vegetable oil as fuel. We are excited to pass on our experience and provide its convenience to others, and honored to support th e brave pursuit of alternative energy – even if it takes greasy hands.

Correct Use

Collecting & Filtering Vegetable oil has a learning curve. It requires some patience and attention to detail to determine a good batch of oil from a bad batch. The information above advises on locating and testing oil. The best strategy is to settle your oil for a few days or weeks first before running it through the GreaseBeast. This will allow particles and water to sink to the bottom of the barrel, and will substantially extend the life of the GB filters. Always draw from the top of a container. Use helper clamps to assist as they secure hoses where you need them. Due to the variable nature of fueling with vegetable oil, please review these policies and ask if you have any questions!

Hoses

Point the end of the dispense nozzle into your tank or collection container, push in the pin in the handle (if it has one) to enable auto-flow, and apply a helper clamp if needed to secure the nozzle in place. Then place the intake hose slightly into the vegetable oil, and apply a helper clamp to secure the hose in place. Be certain that the intake hose is positioned to only collect from the very top of the oil source – where the least debris resides. 

Power Connection 

A 12V pump can be powered by attaching it to a battery via the “alligator” clips, with the red clip on the positive and black clip on negative. This method may be useful in your garage, or if you have a battery in your truck bed. CAUTION: Whenever working with batteries, be aware that it may be dangerous, and very careful to not touch the clips to the same battery terminal. It can also be convenient to use quick-connect plugs such as those shown to the right. Install them so that the battery clips can be removed and the pump can be plugged into a line in the trunk or bed of the vehicle that is run under the vehicle and then hardwired to the battery. You might instead or also use a 110 – 240 V pump, which is one that plugs in at home. If you have a heavy duty alternator, battery system, and inverter onboard your vehicle, this type of pump can be powered this way. One could also plug into the veggie powered generator!

Filter Change

While filtering, depending on the quality of your oil, you may need to switch out your filters. Usually, if you choose oil wisely and it is reasonably warm outside, you can get typically 40-60 gallons through one set of filters. If you choose very poor or cold oil you may get only 10 gallons through. On a day with hot sun and amazing oil we’ve had 120+ gallons through.

There are a few ways to determine when a filter should be changed. How is the Vegetable Oil flowing out of the nozzle? If it has appeared to slow down, you may need a filter change. Try this filter life test: leave the pump on and remove the suction nozzle from the grease trap (so that it sucks air). This should begin to drain the filtration canisters. If they drain immediately and steadily then you probably have considerable more life in the filters. If they drain a very slow few inches, or not at all – it probably means that they are clogged.

Another indication may be if the pump begins to sound different. This may indicate a change in flow, or that you are pulling in air or thicker veggie.When you’re looking at a used filter rod, you may see it covered in particles and goop. They also take on a deeper color towards the center of the rod (when looked at from the top.) These may be indications that the filter rods are ready for a change out.

In a GreaseBeast setup the vegetable oil goes through two filters. The 10 micron is usually the first to need switching as it gets hit with the veggie first and catches most particles. You do not necessarily have to remove each filter at the same time, as one may hold more life in it.

Putting filters inside the Filter Canisters is easy. Drain the canister of oil a few inches to avoid spilling when opening your canisters. To do this, simply suck air for a minute by removing the nozzle from the veggie and letting the pump run. To unscrew the canister, Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey! Screw the canister on TIGHTLY or you will have an air leak and your suction will be low or not work at all. See the Trouble-Shooting section below to learn more about how to handle this. If filters have been left in oil in the canisters for an extended period of time, they may clog more readily, or need to be warmed to be used again Use the included Filter Wrench to make this an easy task. It may also help to have a helper hold the GreaseBeast to keep it stable. To keep everything tidy, we highly recommend wearing a pair of latex gloves during this process.  

Troubleshooting

A GreaseBeast is quite straightforward and simple to operate. This also goes for diagnosing and fixing it if it is not working properly. In our experience, and through helping our customers, most solutions can be found here.

Thick Oil: In addition to the above recommendation, make sure that you have relatively clean oil (meaning it is transparent), and that it is liquid and flowing. The filter rods can take up to 125*F, and the warmer your oil the better it is going to flow. So if your oil is thick, cold, and dirty – your filters are going to clog much quicker.

Tight Canisters: Make sure the clear veggie canisters are as tight as possible. Sometimes this takes two sets of hands or the filter wrench to make sure. The smallest air leak will make the biggest difference when it comes to suction!

Dispense Nozzle: Make sure the dispense nozzle is open! Secure the handle into Auto-Flow mode by pushing the pin in to hold the handle in the open position.

Battery Power: Make sure your power connections are correct, with red on positive and black on negative, and that your 12V source is supplying ample power. Make sure electrical contact surfaces are relatively clean, and not wet.

Fittings: Turn the pump on and listen at each of the junctures/fittings on the GreaseBeast for a hissing/bubbling sound. Fittings may be loose, or there may be stripping to the fitting or threading of the parts. Make sure to use plenty of tephlon tape or pipe dope to seal the fittings in place. Another possibility is that the hose clamps should be tightened.

Pressure Release Button: Check out the Red Pressure Release button on top of the black Canister housing as it may have broken or fallen off during shipping or your travels. If you do not see a red button, or there is a hissing/bubbling sound coming from it- then chances are this could be letting air in. A temporary fix for this problem would be to pull off the button and simply jam the little hole with something like a piece of a filter rod wrapper, or use some sealant. The pressure release doesn’t play too much of a role in the GreaseBeast, so not having it is not an issue.

Plastic on Filters: Though it may be a silly question- did you make sure to remove the plastic from the filter rods before installing them? If not, that would block veggie from flowing through the filters.

Backwards Canisters: Make sure the vegetable oil is coming in through the ‘IN’ port!

O-Ring: The O-ring is a circular rubber piece that creates a seal preventing air from leaking into the canister. if you unscrew the canister, do you see a black ring resting on a lip inside the canister, right below the threads? If not, email us for a replacement.

Hose Length: Make sure not to use hose that is too long. 6-12 feet should be enough to get you to any grease trap you want.

Pump: Perhaps your pump was damaged during shipping or is malfunctioning. Check the fuse and power connections. A replacement is available under the warranty period.

Shipping: Your GreaseBeast or items could have been damaged during shipping. If there are visible cracks contact OM.