Be your own pet black hole


Some people do it before separating it anyway (they often use a vacuum). We'd rather not risk ending up with anything less than good process completion. It's best to recover the methanol after separating the biodiesel and the glycerine by-product.

The methanol left in the biodiesel can be reclaimed, but it takes more energy than you'll recover and it probably isn't cost-effective. Best to write it off as a loss -- washing the biodiesel removes the methanol, and it does no harm in the wash-water (see Wash-water disposal ).

If you're planning to separate the by-product into its components, do so before removing the methanol. Adding phosphoric acid to the by-product separates the soaps from the glycerine and releases the lye catalyst, but it won't separate without the methanol. After separation the methanol is left in the glycerine fraction and can then be removed as below, by boiling and condensing.

To recover the methanol from the by-product, heat the by-product to 65-70 deg C (149-158 deg F) in a closed container fitted with a condensor.

As the methanol evaporates, leaving an ever-lower proportion of methanol in the mixture, the boiling point will increase, so keep the heat on to keep it boiling. The temperature goes up to 100 deg C (212 deg F) or a bit more, and then it starts to froth and you have to stop or you'll get frothy brown by-product in your methanol condensate. But most of the methanol will have been recovered by then.

Rich Clark of Berkeley, California writes:

. residents have a special incentive. Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, are  donating money to cover all adoption fees  for pets from the  Humane Rescue Alliance  through Sunday.

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