How to Filter Vegetable Oil into Biodiesel

August 20th, 2020 |  Biodiesel and Blog
Man’s hand cleaning mesh filter

Did you know your used vegetable oil can be processed into an eco-friendly alternative fuel? The process is relatively simple – but first, it needs to be filtered. Waste oil is full of contaminants, from scraps of food to water and even floating chemicals. Find out from SeQuential how we filter vegetable oil for biodiesel.

Why Vegetable Oil Needs to Be Filtered

Before understanding the biodiesel process, it’s essential to understand why the filtering stage is so important. Used oil from restaurants is often full of contaminants, such as breadcrumbs, shreds of meat, the burnt corner of a French fry, or other food particles. Some of the contaminants are invisible, though. They might be water or juices from food, stray chemicals, or anything else that got mixed into the oil during use.

None of these contaminants can be converted into biodiesel, and they can even disrupt the rendering process. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly filter them out, leaving behind only pure oil to transform into biodiesel.

The Filtering Process

So, how does the filtering process work? Vegetable oil is usually filtered in a few stages for maximum effectiveness. Here’s a brief overview:

Initial Filtering

First, to remove the particles, the vegetable oil is heated and passed through a series of two or more filters. Made of fine-grade mesh, these filters are designed to catch bits of food or other solids that might be suspended in the oil. Accumulated solids can then be disposed of or burned to power the biodiesel processing facility.

Removing Water and Animal Fats

Second, any water and remaining animal fats must be removed from the oil. In this stage, the oil is heated once more. It’s then transferred to a clean receptacle, where it is allowed to. As the oil settles, it separates into its different parts: pure vegetable oil, water, and animal fats. The oil is transferred to a new container, and the water and fats are disposed of or used elsewhere.

Finishing the Transformation

Once oil is filtered, it’s ready to be transformed into biodiesel. This is accomplished through a chemical process called transesterification. As part of the process, the oil – which is scientifically called an “ester” – is combined with an alcohol. The alcohol serves as a catalyst, starting a chemical reaction that recombines the two into new substances.

The finished products of transesterification are diesel fuel and glycerin. The glycerin is filtered out and used for other purposes, while the fuel is sent to local gas stations to be used in trucks and machinery.

Turning Waste Oil into Biofuel with SeQuential

Filtration is part of the biodiesel making process is necessary to transform your waste vegetable oil into clean-burning fuel. This is the process used by SeQuential, a biodiesel processing company based along the West Coast. To find out more about our services, contact us today.