You can save money fueling your car and heating your home while helping the environment by making your own biodiesel. This renewable energy is becoming a more popular alternative fuel source. Although there is some simple chemistry involved, the best biodiesel kits include specific, easy-to-follow instructions.
Topping the list because of its ease of use and relatively low price -- less than $1,000 as of 2011 -- the Appleseed Biodiesel Kit can convert about 100 gallons per day of vegetable oil to biodiesel. It uses a water heater for the internal heating element and features a flat-bottomed steel tank and easy expansion options, such as additional tanks. Although some people prefer cone-bottomed tanks to help drain the liquid, small-scale home operators can stand to lose a few ounces of biodiesel in the tank and the save the thousands of dollars required to purchase a cone-bottomed system.
Although it uses a chemical-grade, medium-density polyethylene (plastic) tank instead of metal, The Fuelmeister II is one of the more affordable cone-bottomed tank systems. At about $3,000 as of 2011, you can make about 40 gallons of biodiesel per hour at about $0.70 per gallon. The single-tank system means you need less space to process your biodiesel. Other time-saving and convenience features include continuous water washing and tank-lip operations.
Made for more serious biodiesel brewers, such as those wanting to sell the fuel, the Dydnadroit kit has steel cone-bottom tanks, an internal heating element, a methanol recovery system and glass tubes to help monitor liquid color. Plan to spend about $6,700 for the 100-gallon system (as of 2011). The tank is coated with a rust-proof epoxy to help extend its length of use.
Also for brewers looking for large outputs, the Mega Ester is a more powerful version of the Appleseed system. It uses a water heater and steel drums, but it is larger and better constructed. It fits in tight spaces, includes a handy spill basin and allows you to heat a new batch of oil while the first batch is still being processed. You can produce about 80 gallons in eight hours. Included in the cost is a day of on-site training following the professional installation. At a steep $9,000 for the 240-gallon system, this is one of the most expensive, but most productive, biodiesel options. For smaller brewers, the 40-gallon version starts at just under $3,000. (Prices as of 2011.)
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