Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hands-On Biodiesel Brewing Class - June 14, 2008 - Palmer

biodiesel brewingSaturday June 14, 2008 - 12:30pm

$39 at the APU Kellogg Campus, Spring Creek Farm, Palmer

Please join Arctic Vegwerks for an afternoon hands-on biodiesel brewing class and make your own fuel! Participants will learn how to collect oil, test it, and create a small batch of biodiesel to take home. Registration is required, and the course fee includes all safety equipment, lab supplies and ingredients for a test batch.

Hands-On Biodiesel Brewing is the second in a series of biodiesel and vegoil events and classes this summer. New students are welcome. See the events page at for more information.

Spring Creek Farm is located at 6404 N. Lossing Rd in Palmer, Alaska.

From Anchorage take the Glenn Hwy past Palmer and turn LEFT on Farm Loop Road, after few driveways turn RIGHT at the Spring Creek Farm sign onto Lossing Road. Continue to the white farm buildings on your right.

Sponsored by Arctic Vegwerks in cooperation with Alaska Pacific University.

Click here for registration information (132k pdf). Call Will Taygan at 907-688-5288 for more information.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Book Review: Do It Yourself Guide to Biodiesel

diy-biodiesel-bookReading the "Do It Yourself Guide to Biodiesel" by Guy Purcella was like having a long conversation with someone who is very knowledgeable about biodiesel, but on a different page.

Purcella sells a plastic-cone based biodiesel processor and obviously believes in safe, quality homebrew made in his design. Thankfully the book isn't a 230 page advertisement, but it does go to lengths to describe why the plastic cone-processor is a good idea.

Personally, I am opposed to mixing heated flammable chemicals in plastic.

He also strongly encourages folks to buy a pre-made processor or at least a kit. Now, the kit and DIY resources he recommends - Utah Biodiesel Supply, the Infopop Biodiesel-SVO forums and the Collaborative Biodiesel Tutorial are the same ones I point folks too, so I'm not sure where our paths diverged.

This may be the book for you if you want to buy a processor and have it "just work." Which, interestingly is the conversation I've been having recently with a few local folks.

Purcella goes into great detail describing everything except building a processor: the standard personal story, why petroleum is bad and biodiesel is good, oil collection, storage and titration, and quality testing homebrew, as well as storing, filtering and pumping the final product.

It's got a lot of information. Perhaps a little too dense for those just interested in biodiesel, but good for folks who are thinking about buying a pre-built reactor. This is probably the only book that lists a "buyers guide" to pre-built systems, and really lays out the big picture of what's required beyond the processor.

Of course, for those hardcore DIY types, my favorite book for actually building a processor is Home Brew Biodiesel from b100supply.

Veg On!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I adore biodieselSMARTER

biodieselSMARTERAll the information you need to home-brew biodiesel is floating somewhere out there on the internet. It's finding the right information with the angle you want that's difficult.

Issue number 6 of biodieselSMARTER showed up in my mailbox yesterday and I couldn't put it down. First of all, it's written by folks with sustainability in mind. The full-page ad inside the front cover reads "The greenest car you own? Mass transit. Try not to drive at all. Icebergs will float in your honor... Respect the Biodiesel." Nice.

In addition to the regular columns, this edition includes glycerin composting trials and horror stories of illegal glycerin dumping. There are articles on desert thriving moringa and snow-planted camelina as feedstock crops. Also in the mix are a couple of farm-scale case studies, a bicycle-powered reactor built by high school students, and a piece on PrairieFire Biofuels, which serves both the SVO and biodiesel scene in Madison, Wisconsin.

The camelina article is especially pertinent for us Alaskans. In fact, Hans Geier - the Delta Canola biodiesel farmer - sent me a small packet of camelina for a little test plot I've got going in the orchard. Much to my chagrin, Hans and some other local farmers have been really keen on blending unheated oils with diesel and/or other thinners. Interestingly, these Albertan farmers are doing exactly that, with locally grown and crushed off-spec canola. Although in general I'm not a proponent of blending, I'm glad to see biodieselSMARTER embracing the larger sustainable biodiesel-vegoil community.

Don't have a subscription yet? It's a little 'zine, but filled with quality information, and it's only TEN BUCKS for a year-long subscription.

Veg On!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

37 degrees and light.

Chugiak-Eagle RiverYep, May 1st marks the start of the outdoor biodiesel brewing season. It's also the day we're supposed to take the studs off the tires, but since there was a big snowstorm the last few days of April the state is letting us keep them on until May 15th.

There's little bit of snow on the shady side of the house, and a few of the big dumb mosquitoes flying around. Thankfully their tiny, fast and numerous cousins haven't hatched yet.

It's only 37 degrees out, but I pulled the clear frying oil cubies out of their cardboard boxes and let them sit in the sun all day. They flowed smoothly out of the boxes and through the paint strainer into my 55 gallon drum. Although the little harbor freight clear water pump was a little slow moving the oil from the drum to the appleseed. This year's new addition is a refrigerator compressor that pulls some suction to prime the pump. That priming feature is a very, very nice addition.

I've got the first 2008 batch drying in an open top drum with a bubbler in it, but I don't know how much drying it will do in the wet, heavy, almost-freezing air.

I'm also just about out of the few hundred gallons of SVO (Straight Vegetable Oil) that I filtered for 2-tank SVO driving all winter. It's time to get busy!

Oh yeah, today I sent my $1.72 in taxes to the state for my April SVO use. I'll have to have a talk with my representative about personal-use exemptions. He lives a couple miles down the road, and Alaska is very familiar with subsistence and personal use issues.

All this and I'm working by the twilight at 11:00 pm.

Yep, May in Alaska.

Veg On!