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The Biodiesel Bible

by Keith Addison, Journey to Forever

This is the only book that thoroughly covers the entire subject of making your own biodiesel – all the information at the Journey to Forever website and very much more.

Learn how to make top-quality biodiesel that will pass all the quality standards requirements every time.

We haven't had a failed batch for 11 years! (But if you do have a failed batch we tell you how to rescue it – and how to improve your processing so it won't happen again.)

Save money! Making your own biodiesel will save you thousands.

Click HERE

New! Build a 3-inch ethanol still – Click HERE

Journey to Forever Biofuels Library

Library contents


Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel -- a guide to the fine points of home alcohol production, Mother's Alcohol Fuel Seminar
©The Mother Earth News, 1980 (out of print)
In 1978 The Mother Earth News research team started studying methods and distillation processes, testing mash formulas, designing apparatus, compiling information, converting engines and running seminars, spending upwards of US$300,000 on the project. This manual is the result.
Basic information, methods, different feedstocks, processing, mash recipes, still designs and plans, low-cost backyard stills, Alcohol as an Engine Fuel, How To Adapt Your Automobile Engine For Ethyl Alcohol Use, Do-It-Yourself Water Injection System, MOTHER's Waste Oil Heater, and more.
PLEASE NOTE that this manual was written many years ago, the company has since changed hands several times and no longer supplies enzymes or mash cooking powder or fermenting powder.

The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel

by S.W. Mathewson
Ten Speed Press
© Copyright 1980 J.A. Diaz Publications (out of print)
This excellent manual gives you all the information you need to get going with making your own alcohol fuel. Aimed at small-scale production, good chapters on fuel theory, everything about feedstocks, processing, fermentation, yeast, using ethanol, distillation.

Convert Your Car to Alcohol, by Keat B. Drane, 1980 (out of print) -- Detailed instructions on how to run a gasoline car on clean, renewable ethanol fuel. Covers everything you need, from the fuel line to the carburetor to the ignition system, with tips on cold-weather starting. Scanned by Stan Hartley. Full-text online.

The Sunflower Seed Huller and Oil Press -- by Jeff Cox (from Organic Gardening, April 1979, Rodale Press): Vegetable oils used to be one of those items you just HAD to buy. Now here's how to make your own. In 2,500 square feet, a family of four can grow each year enough sunflower seed to produce three gallons of homemade vegetable oil suitable for salads or cooking and 20 pounds of nutritious, dehulled seed -- with enough broken seeds left over to feed a winter's worth of birds.

Fuel From Sawdust -- by Mike Brown (from Acres, USA, 19 June 1983): Conversion of cellulose, such as sawdust, cornstalks, newspaper and other substances, to alcohol -- "a fairly uncomplicated and straightforward process". This is the old way -- it works, but it's not efficient and not economical.

UC Davis biodiesel study -- "Chemical and Bioassay Analyses of Diesel and Biodiesel Particulate Matter: Pilot Study -- Final Report" by Norman Y. Kado, Robert A. Okamoto and Paul A. Kuzmicky, Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, California, November 1996. This U.S. Department of Energy study found that the use of pure biodiesel instead of petroleum-based diesel fuel could offer a 93.6% reduction in cancer risks from exhaust emissions exposure. Acrobat file, 3.1Mb.
UC Davis biodiesel study -- summary: the Summary, Results and Discussion sections of the report, in html format.

Straighter-than-straight vegetable oils as diesel fuels, Michael Allen, Visiting Professor, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand: What happens when you try to run a diesel motor on crude palm oil.

Palm Oil as a Fuel for Agricultural Diesel Engines: Comparative Testing against Diesel Oil, by Gumpon Prateepchaikul and Teerawat Apichato of Prince of Songkla University, Thailand. Comparative tests of indirect injection agricultural engines fueled by diesel and refined palm oil and operating continuously at constant 75% maximum load and speed of 2,200 rpm. SONGKLANAKARIN Journal of Science and Technology Vol.25 No.3 May-June 2003

Review: Utilization of Rapeseed Oil, Rapeseed Oil Methyl Ester or Diesel Fuel -- Exhaust Gas Emissions and Estimation of Environmental Effects, by Jürgen Krahl, Axel Munack, Müfit Bahadir, Leon Schumacher and Nancy Elser, 1996. This report is a review of emissions tests of rapeseed oil and rapeseed methyl esters biodiesel using the US FTP-75 tests or European ECE-15 13 and 5 tests. Emissions are categorized and compared with petroleum diesel fuel in different types of diesel engines. Section 2 on Engine Testing Procedures and section 3, "Environmental Effects of the Main Exhaust Gas Components", are well worth a read in their own right.

SVO emissions bibliography -- Compiled by Wolfgang Rougle from the 55-page bibliography of the Iowa State biodiesel course. This larger bibliography covers all research aspects of biodiesel and some non-emissions aspects of SVO, and may be useful to you. It can be found at:

The modelling of the biodiesel reaction -- As part of their work to design a continuous reactor for the production of palm-oil methyl ester, Michael Allen and Gumpon Prateepchaikul at the Energy Group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Prince of Songkla University in Thailand produced a spreadsheet modelling the complex series of reversible reactions which take place during the biodiesel production process. "Applying this model made possible several recommendations to enhance palm-oil methyl ester production in batch reactors..." You can use the spreadsheet to change one parameter in the process and see how it affects the others. Full-text document here (html).
Download the MS Excel spreadsheet (for Windows) -- 320kb
Download the Acrobat file describing the work -- 364kb
See also "Kinetics of Transesterification of Soybean Oil" and "Kinetics of Palm Oil Transesterification in a Batch Reactor", both below.

Kinetics of Transesterification of Soybean Oil, H. Noureddini and D. Zhu, Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, Vol. 74, no. 11 (1997). This study investigates what actually happens during the transesterifcation process to produce biodiesel. The effect of variations in mixing intensity and temperature on the rate of reaction were studied at a constant ratio of alcohol to triglycerol and concentration of catalyst. Acrobat file, 540Kb.

Kinetics of Palm Oil Transesterification in a Batch Reactor, by D. Darnoko and Munir Cheryan, University of Illinois, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Agricultural Bioprocess Laboratory, Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society (JAOCS) Vol. 77, No. 12 (2000) --What happens during the biodiesel process reaction. Acrobat file, 72Kb.

Preparation of ethanol from molasses -- This method uses fresh rubber coagulum as binder and live cell immobilising agent. Once prepared the yeast culture can be used repeatedly for months under non-sterile conditions for fermenting sugars to ethanol prior to distillation, with high yields. Full details and diagram. From Manick Harris, Malaysia, Biofuel mailing list, 26 Aug 2005

The Butterfield Still -- This report provides details of the design, construction, operation and performance of the FSB Energy Fuel Alcohol Plant.

Farm-scale ethanol fuel production plant -- the Gildred/Butterfield Fuel Alcohol Plant, winner of the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Ethanol Fuel Plant Design Competition: Floyd Butterfield's on-farm still operation in full, complete with blueprints. Plant Description, Plant Operating Manual, Plant Performance Data, Plant Construction Guide, Recommendations, Appendixes and eight blueprints of the still, cooker and operating set-up. Operates continuously, 24 hours per day, 10 gallons per hour of 190 proof ethanol. Includes screw press blueprints and construction details. With thanks to Garle A. Webb.

The Seven Sisters -- The Great Oil Companies and the World They Made, by Anthony Sampson, 1975 (out of print). "The Seven Sisters (from a phrase first popularised by Italian oil tycoon Enrico Mattei): Exxon (Esso), Shell, BP, Gulf, Texaco, Mobil, Socal (Chevron) -- plus an eighth, the Compagnie Francaise Des Pétroles (CFP-Total)." We scanned chapters 8-14 of the book and posted them under the subtitle "OPEC, Big Oil and you" at the Biofuel mailing list, where they raised much interest. "I was so interested in the story, I went out and ordered myself a copy," wrote one list member. "This is great reading, and gives us a small glimpse into the control that big oil has over us. Thanks." Seven chapters full-text online.
See also:
Who gets what from imported oil? Data from OPEC (Acrobat file, 36kb)

The Fats and Oils: a General View, by Carl L. Alsberg and Alonzo E. Taylor, 1928, Food Research Institute, Stanford University, California
First in a series of five Fats and Oils Studies published in the 1920s by the Food Research Institute. World War 1 had demonstrated the basic importance of the fats and oils for food, feed, and raw material for industry. These publications sought to address a lack of reliable data on which to base policy and business decisions. Good overview of the subject written in layman's terms, covers nature and sources of fats and oils, properties, technology, production, international trade and more. Not that much has changed since then, it's just grown more complex. A clear and informative guide -- useful information for anyone making biodiesel, also much of interest on how agricultural production and the trade in commodities can influence prices and availability of feedstock. Also much of interest for soapmakers. Full text online. More resources -- See
Fats and oils


See the Biogas page

Methane Digesters For Fuel Gas and Fertilizer, With Complete Instructions For Two Working Models -- by L. John Fry, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93103, © 1973, Eighth Printing (out of print). Excellent manual on making and using methane -- biogas. Fry developed his techniques while running a pig farm in South Africa, designing the first full scale displacement methane plant. Good information on integrating biogas production with gardening and farming, and with pond-culture food production. Designs for a Sump Digester using 55-gal oil drums and an Inner Tube Digester. With thanks to Kirk McLoren.
Interview: L. John Fry
Interview: Ram Bux Singh

Nepal Biogas Plant -- Construction Manual. Construction Manual for GGC 2047 Model Biogas Plant. With Dutch and German support, Nepal's Biogas Support Programme has built 95,400 biogas plants in 10 years, with potential for half a million more. These are fixed dome biogas plants, designed in Nepal. Sizes are household-scale from 4 to 20 cubic metres. The feedstock is cattle dung and water (but other feedstocks will work just as well). For instance, the 4-cubic-metre plant requires input from 2-3 cattle, the 10-cubic-metre plant needs 6-9 cattle. This manual includes full construction details, plans and data. With thanks to Olivier Morf.

Put a chicken in your tank -- Eccentric British inventor Harold Bate found a way of converting chicken droppings to biogas and running his car on it. He claimed chicken power would run a car faster, cleaner, and better than gasoline. Bate said he'd driven his 1953 Hillman at speeds up to 75 mph without the use of gasoline.

Jean Pain: France's King of Green Gold -- In the 1980s Frenchman Jean Pain built a home-made power plant that he claimed supplied 100% of his energy needs. The core of the system was a 50-ton compost mound, three metres high and six across, made of pulverized tree limbs and underbrush. Buried inside the compost was a 4-cubic-metre sealed steel tank 3/4-full of the same compost, producing methane -- bio-gas. Tubes connected the tank to a pile of 24 truck-tyre inner tubes, the gas reservoir. Pain said he used the gas to cook all the food, fuel a truck and produce electricity, via a methane-fuelled internal combustion engine that turned a generator. The truck ran off two gas bottles on the roof. Another tube ran from a well and into the heap, with 200 metres of tubing wound round the tank; Pain said the water emerged at 60 deg C at 4 litres a minute, which was enough for central heating, and for the bathroom and the kitchen. The compost heap continued fermenting for nearly 18 months, and then yielded 50 tons of natural fertilizer. (With thanks to Ramjee Swaminathan.)

Biogas manuals

A Chinese Biogas Manual -- Popularising Technology in the Countryside, edited by Ariane van Buren from the original by the Office of the Leading Group for the Propagation of Marshgas, Sichuan (Szechuan) Province, Peoples' Republic of China, technical editor Leo Pyle, translator Michael Crook, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1979, original publishers: Science Publishing House, 1976, China, ISBN 0 903031 65 5 -- 12.6Mb pdf

Compost, fertilizer, and biogas production from human and farm wastes in the People's Republic of China. Ottawa, IDRC, 1978, ISBN 0-88936-140-l, 94p. Editors Michael G. McGarry and Jill Stainforth, translated by Lee Thim Loi from "A Compilation of Data on the Experience and Sanitary Management of Excreta and Urine in the Village", published by The People's Hygiene Publisher, People's Republic of China. 7.8Mb pdf

Biogas technology in the Third World: a multidisciplinary review, Andrew Barnett, Leo Pyle, S. K. Subramanian, IDRC, Ottawa, Ont., 1978, ISBN O-88936-162-2, 132 p. 14.4Mb pdf

Biogas Systems in lndia, by Robert Jon Lichtman, VITA/COSTED, ISBN O-86619-167-4, 1983, 142pp. 11.7Mb pdf

Biogas and Waste Recycling -- The Philippine Experience, by Felix DI Maramba, Sr., 1978, Liberty Flour Mills, Philippines, 32.3Mb pdf

Biogas plants in animal husbandry -- a practical guide, by Uli Werner, Ulrich Stöhr, Nicolai Hees, GATE/GTZ, 1989, ISBN J-528-02048-2, 157 pp. 17.2Mb pdf

Tubular Plastic Bio-digesters in Tanzania, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe & China, selected & edited by John Furze, 1997/1998/2002, University of Aarhus, Denmark, 257pp. 24.3Mb pdf

Biogas: What it is; How it is made; How to use it -- FAO Better Farming Series 31 (read online):

Biogas 2: Building a Better Biogas Unit -- FAO Better Farming Series 32 (read online):

Micro Cogeneration: 21st Century Independent Power -- How to Design and Construct Your Own Independent Power System -- First Edition, 1993, by Kirk McLoren, Independent Power, Billings, Montana. Covers all aspects of this most useful subject, from thinking about it to putting it all together, and everything in between.
This file requires the DjVu Viewer Plug-in reader, available as a free download for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. View online or download the file for offline viewing. Download DjVu Viewer Plug-in here:

Optimization of a Batch Type Ethyl Ester Process -- recipe for biodiesel from ethanol (which you can make yourself), instead of methanol (which is toxic, fossil-fuel derived, and you can't make it yourself).
See: Ethyl-esters biodiesel

Production and Testing of Ethyl and Methyl Esters, University of Idaho, Dec 1994.
See: Ethyl-esters biodiesel

Transesterification Process to Manufacture Ethyl Ester of Rape Oil by Roger A. Korus, Dwight S. Hoffman Narendra Barn, Charles L. Peterson, and David C. Drown, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA (Acrobat file, 672Kb)
See: Ethyl-esters biodiesel

Making and Testing a Biodiesel Fuel Made From Ethanol and Waste French-Fry Oil by Charles L. Peterson, Daryl Reece, Brian Hammond, Joseph C. Thompson, Sidney Beck, University of Idaho, Idaho, USA (Acrobat file, 2.4Mb)
See: Ethyl-esters biodiesel

A complete report covering all of the applications of ethanol in gasoline, in new and used engines: ERDC Project No 2511
Intensive Field Trial of Ethanol/Petrol Blend in Vehicles. This trial showed no harm to any engines, and documented the benefits. This is the Executive Summary, compliments of Apace Research Ltd -- 10 pages, 32kb Acrobat file.

Wood-Ethanol Report: Technology Review, Environment Canada 1999 -- good overview of the problem of producing ethanol from cellulose and the current solutions on offer.

Fuel Injection Equipment (FIE) Manufacturers (Delphi, Stanadyne, Denso, Bosch) issued a statement on biodiesel. They strongly support it, but they have their concerns too, and they're very involved in standards development. They had a fright in Europe in the early 90s when the introduction of low-sulfur diesel saw widespread damage to injection systems, with excessive wear and failure. The same thing happened in California. They don't want it to happen with biodiesel. This is their statement.
Summary -- html
Full document -- Acrobat file, 104kb

Biodiesel quality testing: Scientists at USDA's Agricultural Research Service have adapted a sophisticated tool known as near-infrared spectroscopy -- NIR -- to help speed the development of biodiesel fuels made with vegetable oils. The standard for measuring biodiesel quality has been a complex analytical method called gas chromatography (GC). But GC is a complex piece of laboratory equipment, requiring technical expertise and at least an hour to perform. It also requires chemical reagents and solvents that need special handling and costly disposal. NIR is a safer and faster way to check the quality of biodiesel fuel, and no special training is needed.

See also:

NIR Helps Turn Vegetable Oil into High-Quality Biofuel -- ARS News Release, June 15, 1999

Rapid Monitoring of Transesterification and Assessing Biodiesel Fuel Quality by Near-infrared Spectroscopy Using a Fiber-Optic Probe, by Gerhard Knothe, ARS, JAOCS 76, 795-800 (July 1999)

Monitoring a Progressing Transesterification Reaction by Fiber-Optic Near Infrared Spectroscopy with Correlation to 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, by Gerhard Knothe, ARS, JAOCS 77, 489-493 (May 2000)

Cornmeal Adsorber for Dehydrating Ethanol Vapors
-- by Michael R. Ladisch et al., Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering, Purdue University. Ground corn is an effective and energy efficient means to remove water from ethanol. And when its drying capacity is worn out, it can be fermented and distilled to make more ethanol. About half the ethanol now produced in the US is dried using corn grits. This 1981 paper is the original work on the subject.
See: Anhydrous ethanol

Separating Ethanol From Water -- by Renaldo V. Jenkins of Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, USA. More economical methods of separating water from ethanol to produce anhydrous ethanol:
1. using sulphur
2. using castor oil
. Provided by F. Marc de Piolenc.
See: Anhydrous ethanol

Apparatus for the Continuous Manufacture of Absolute Alcohol -- US Patent 1,704,213, E. Ricard, filed January 23, 1924. Scanned by F. Marc de Piolenc.
Acrobat pdf file, 524kb.
In html

Absolute Alcohol Using Glycerine -- Mariller-Granger Processes, from E. Boullanger: Distillerie Agricole et Industrielle (Paris: Ballire, 1924). Mariller's absolute alcohol production process by dehydration using glycerine, various systems examined and explained. Translation from the French by F. Marc de Piolenc.
See: Anhydrous ethanol

Wood Alcohol -- from E. Boullanger: Distillerie Agricole et Industrielle (Paris: Ballire, 1924). An examination of the technology of producing ethanol from wood, going back to 1819. This survey covers the field excepting for the new enzymes, which still haven't arrived after 20 years of promises. Translation from the French by F. Marc de Piolenc.

Wood-to-Oil Process -- by S. Friedman, A.S. Mehta and P.L. Thigpen, from Considine, Douglas M. (Ed-in-Ch): Energy Technology Handbook (McGraw-Hill, 1977). Scientists at the Pittsburgh Energy Research Center of the Bureau of Mines, U.S. Department of the Interior, converted wood wastes, cowdung and garbage into oil in the laboratory. Any cellulosic material can be converted to oil by this process. Economics, Process, Drying and Grinding, Feed Systems, Wood-Oil Slurry Feed System, Solids Feed System, Pretreated Wood-Oil Slurry System, Reaction, Reactor Off-Gases, Oil Recovery, Environmental Considerations. Scanned by F. Marc de Piolenc.

Liquefaction -- Chapter 3, Energy Applications of Biomass, Michael Z. Lowenstein (Ed). (Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, 1985). Natural processes that produce liquids suitable as fuels are performed by certain tree species (e.g., the Brazilian Copaifera langsdorfii tree that yields sesquiterpenes that can be used as diesel fuels without modification, and plants that bear oil seeds; e.g., sunflowers). An approach to the natural production of liquid fuels by biomass is under investigation by Nobel prize winner Melvin Calvin using a combination of natural photosynthesis and genetic manipulation. The overall process consists of three steps: hybridization of Euphorbia lathyris with E. esula,which produces fewer hydrocarbons than E. lathyris but grows as a perennial rather than an annual; modification of the photosynthetic pathway of the hybrid to cyclize C 15 intermediates so that sesquiterpenes are formed; and transfer of the gene that codes for sesquiterpene production from C. langsdorfii to the plant. Scanned by F. Marc de Piolenc

Biochemical Sources of Fuels -- by John D. Keenan, Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa. From Considine, Douglas M. (Ed-in-Ch) : Energy Technology Handbook (McGraw-Hill, 1977). Survey of biofuels potential -- Photosynthesis, Photosynthetic Hydrogen, Biochemical Oxidations, Ethanol Fermentation, Butanol-isopropanol Fermentation, Methane Fermentation, Hydrogen Fermentation, Cellulose Degradation, Biochemical Fuel Cells, Extraction of Shale Oil, Conversion Economics, with extensive references. Scanned by F. Marc de Piolenc.

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This is a free library, open to anybody who wants to learn about sustainable development, environment and related areas. It includes copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Journey to Forever is making this material available in our efforts to advance understanding of sustainability. This material is either out of print and cannot easily be obtained, or, where in print, we have reproduced extracts for purposes of review and comment, with links to the publishers. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in sections 107 and 108 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission direct from the copyright owner.

Some of the books in the library are in the public domain in many countries, but in other countries they are still under copyright protection. Please check your country's rules at the following website to see if you are entitled to free access or not:

En español -- Biocombustibles, biodiesel
Biofuels Library
Biofuels supplies and suppliers

Make your own biodiesel
Mike Pelly's recipe
Two-stage biodiesel process
FOOLPROOF biodiesel process
Biodiesel processors
Biodiesel in Hong Kong
Nitrogen Oxide emissions
Biodiesel resources on the Web
Do diesels have a future?
Vegetable oil yields and characteristics
Biodiesel and your vehicle
Food or fuel?
Straight vegetable oil as diesel fuel

Ethanol resources on the Web
Is ethanol energy-efficient?

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