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Where and How to Get Oil

For simplicity, each of the topics below is covered separately…

Where to get your oil:

Vegetable oil is a waste product from most restaurants, delicatessens, cafeterias and other facilities in the food service or food preparation industry. Local restaurants are a great source of oil. In fact, restaurant owners frequently pay rendering companies to remove waste oil from their premises. You may actually be saving them this cost! We advise you to make suitable arrangements with individual restaurants and business owners and to remember these essential points:

  1. The less you impact the owner’s operations the more willing they will be to work with you.
  2. Be consistent so they know that they can count on you to remove the oil from their premises.
  3. If necessary, provide them with a suitable container (such as a steel drum) for them to store the oil until you can retrieve it. Also make sure no water can contaminate your supply.

Making a Filtration System:

RefineryMaking your own filtration system (or, as some call it – a “refinery”), is a relatively simple task that should take only a few hours for a person with average mechanical ability. The purpose of the “refinery” is to accomplish two separate, but equally important functions: filtration and de-watering. 

Numerous filtration system designs are in use today and most are reported to function very well.  Several companies (such as Green Road Supply) offer components specifically intended for vegetable oil filtering and/or processing.  Some people prefer to make their system from scratch.  After experience with many different designs, described below is what we believe is a well-designed system that can be assembled at a modest cost. It can of course, be customized or upgraded.

What you will need: Where to get it: Comments:
Two feet of 3/8” rubber fuel line Auto parts or hardware store  
Pipe sealant Auto parts or hardware store  
Four 4”x4” (or 6”x6”) blocks Lumber yard Used to keep drums raised up off the floor and allow access to bottom of drum for water and sludge drain
Two 1-1/2” or 2” NPT plugs Hardware store/ plumbing supply shop  
Two 55-gallon steel drums Available at most municipalities or repair facilities (new or used)
Two ¾” NPT hose bib style drain valves Hardware store/plumbing supply shop  
Two ¾” NPT brass elbows 90 degree Hardware store/plumbing supply shop  
Four sock filters Filterbag.com
28101 Ballard Drive, Lake Forest, IL 60045  Fax 1-847-680-0832
Email: info@filterbag.com
One micron or five-in-one micron
One 100-micron EZ Strainer CDF Corp.
Tel. 508-591-6700/888-593-2211
www.cdf1.com (or www.cdf-liners.com)
or fryertofuel.hypermart.net
PVC pipe Hardware store/plumbing supply shop  
Suction pump The Little Giant “Pony Pump” model 555504 (www.lgpc.com) or equivalent.  This pump is a popular choice and we have had excellent results with it.  For an easy and economical set up, a simple drill pump (about $6.00 at your local hardware store) will also work.
Two Drum heaters Electro-Flex Heat, Inc., 5 Northwood Road, Northwood Industrial Park, Bloomfield, CT 06002, Phone-860-242-6287, Toll Free-1-800-585-4213, Fax-860-242-7298 www.electroflexheat.com  
Processed (finished) oil pump. Northern Industrial Tools Diesel
Fuel Transfer Pump — 110 Volt, 18 GPM
This pump is frequently used with good results.
Rubber hose Hardware/Auto Parts store, plumbing supply  
Dispensing nozzle OPW, Gilbarco or Fill-Rite  
Swivel OPW 241TPS or equivalent
www.opw-fc.com to find a distributor in your area
Used to connect your finished oil dispensing hose to nozzle.

Assembly Instructions:

We recommend use of steel drums for oil storage and processing functions. Reports of vermin chewing through plastic drums as well as other issues preclude us from recommending use of synthetic materials at this time.

Step 1
Make sure drums are clean and all contamination is completely removed in accordance with any applicable rules and regulations. Drums are turned upside down such that the openings are on the bottom. Apply pipe sealant to fittings and insert a brass elbow (90 degree) into one of the drum openings and seal off the other opening(s) with the correct size NPT plug (most are 1½” NPT).

Step 2
Connect drain valve (hose bib) to 90 degree elbow such that the handle clears the bottom and side of the drum (this will allow easy operation of valve).

Step 3
Place drums on blocks (either 4”x4” of 6”x6”) cut to appropriate size.

Step 4
Completely remove (cut out) what is now the top of drum 1 so it is completely open. Remove or hammer down the sharp edge so that the EZ strainer will fit snugly.

Step 5
Cut out four (4) six inch (6”) diameter openings in Drum 2 to accommodate sock filters. Line the sharp edge of these holes with rubber fuel hose. To do this, cut an 18¾” length of hose (to fit the circumference of the hole) and slit entire length of the hose. Form slitted hose into the 6” holes which were cut out of the drum. This protects the filters from scraping against the sharp edge during installation and removal. Place sock filters in holes.

Step 6
Install drum heater following manufacturer’s recommendations. This usually means wrap it around the drum and clip it together.

Step 7
Install Pump 1 using PVC intake pipe raised up at least 4” from bottom of Drum 1 and direct outflow into the four sock filters mounted on Drum 2. Connect a splitter to split the flow into the four sock filters.

Step 8
Install Pump 2 using PVC intake pipe raised up at least 4” from bottom of Drum 2. Connect out flow to fuel dispensing line. Connect swivel and nozzle.

Operating Instructions (How to process your oil):

For best results, we recommend starting with good clean (clear) vegetable oil. This can be either purchased new ($$$) or obtained used (usually free).

Step 1 – Pour oil through 100 micron rated EZ strainer into Drum 1 and let it sit (settle) for as long as possible (typically a few days). This period of time is necessary in order to allow sediment to sink to the bottom of the container. Note: When pouring from the cubie (the plastic jug type container) into the EZ strainer, pour oil slowly. This helps to prevent chunks and/or solids from getting into the strainer.

Step 2 – Warm Drum 1 to 120 degrees for approximately eight (8) hours then let it cool down. For heating, we have had excellent results using the Electroflex 120 volt industrial drum heater (www.electroflexheat.com). After a few days, drain off bottom to remove sediment and any suspended or free water removed during the heating process.

Step 3 – Pump the oil up and out of Drum 1 (making sure to pump from at least two to three inches off the bottom) and through one (1) micron sock type filters into Drum 2. Oil will filter easier and quicker if it is warm (roughly 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit). This may require re-warming the oil if ambient temperature is low. Although we have heard reports of filtering to as large as five (5) microns, we strongly suggest filtering to a minimum of one (1) micron. Once the oil is filtered through the sock filter(s), the oil is heated a second time (same method) for eight hours. This second heating process speeds up water separation. After approximately eight hours, drain off any watery liquid from bottom drain valve until pure vegetable oil flows out. Before use, processed oil should be regularly tested for suspended water content. At this point, the process is complete and the oil is ready for use.

A separate pump is recommended for pumping the processed oil into your vehicle. Optimum filtration results are achieved when the oil is allowed to settle. The longer the settling time, the cleaner your oil will be – and it will filter much easier too. If you plan to let your oil sit for a prolonged amount of time it should be treated with a biocide to prevent algae growth. In order to slow down or eliminate potential algae growth, a cool and dry location is highly recommended for filtering and processing.

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What about emissions?

Vegetable oil contains no sulfur which is the major carcinogen associated with diesel fuel!

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Can I still use regular diesel fuel?

Yes!  You have two fuel tanks and can switch back to regular diesel fuel at any time if you choose to do so.

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Does it affect performance?

Some studies show a 1 to 2.5% difference which is imperceptible to most drivers.

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How much does it cost?

Installation costs vary based on the type of vehicle and your specific requirements. We have seen our customers re-coup their entire investment within six and 18 months. 

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What does cold vegetable oil look like?

Here is a picture of vegetable oil at 15 degrees. This is what it looks like inside your filter, fuel lines ad fuel tank at this temperature.

Be sure that your system will be able to handle warming this to a sufficient temperature quickly.