Sunday, April 5, 2009

WVO Filtration System

I get my waste vegetable oil from a local cafeteria and the quality varies quite a bit. As such, I need to have a pretty good filtration system. I put my current system together from a couple of online sources. Most of the parts came from Fryer to Fuel. I added a Redline pump, because they do a very good job of pushing colder, more viscous, vegetable oil. This is a good thing as my garage is not insulated and gets pretty cold from late-Fall through early-Spring.

I managed to pick up quite a few free 55 gallon steel drums. It really makes things much easier if you can locate open head steel drums. You cannot underestimate the benefit of being able to slide the top off the drum to add WVO. It makes much less mess than using a funnel to add the unfiltered vegetable oil into a closed head drum. You can also clean food particles from the bottom of the drum when they collect over time.

I use the teal drum as my primary storage tank. I have a heater band on the drum, which is very effective in warming the oil during the colder months. The PVC tube draws the oil out of the drum. It enters through a hole in the top of the drum cover and stops about 3" before the bottom. This allows some deadspace where food particles can settle out of suspension. There is a screen filter at the bottom of the tube.

When the oil leaves the drum it passes through a series of three filters. The first is a 12 micron strainer. This is the black plastic cone between the PVC tube and the pump. This strainer is cleanable and reusable. The main purpose of this first filter is to keep any large food particles out of the pump to avoid any clogging and motor failure.

After the oil passes through the pump, it goes through the second filter. This is the silver filter in the picture. It is a 10 micron cleanable and reusable filter. Both the 12 micron plastic strainer and the silver 10 micron spin on filter came with the Redline pump.

The Redline pump also has a nice feature of having a bypass valve. This allows the user to make the choice of pumping the oil through the 1o micron filter or directly out from the pump. I make use of this feature when I have excess oil by pump it the into a second 55 gallon drum (the black drum all the way to the right in the picture). The black drum in the middle is an empty closed head drum that serves as a table for the pump.

When I am filtering I pass the oil through the 10 micron filter and then through the blue filter housing that holds a 2 micron (nominal) bag filter. When the filter passes through the housing it comes out the other side and terminates in a gas pump style nozzle. From the nozzle I can pump directly into my cars secondary tank.

While I am pleased with the current system, it could be improved quite a bit. The pump has to work pretty hard to push the oil through all the filters I have in the system. In particular, the sock filter housing, with a nominal 2 micron rating, really slows down the flow of vegetable oil and makes the filtering process take a VERY long time. The 2 micron final step is probably overkill, so I am thinking of switching it out to a 5 micron filter which should make the system a bit faster.


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