Living Sustainably

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Archive for March, 2006

Biodiesel Scale

Rick B. says:

Finally a scale that is made for Biodiesel. I’ve been on the hunt for a better scale for biodiesel, and I’ve finally found it! The KD 7000 will be the standard by which all biodiesel scales are measured.

Just don’t show it to the wife or it’s new home will be in the kitchen, since this is the ultimate in kitchen scales as well. It looks like it came right out of a gormet chef’s kitchen, but it is rugged enough for biodiesel!

  • My Weigh recently redesigned this scale to after listening to biodieseler’s and soap makers feedback!
  • It has increased it’s capacity to 7000 grams and kept the accuracy to 1 gram. This gives you the ability to weigh the catalyst for very large batches in one weighing.
  • They added a biodiesel and caustic resistant stainless steel platform and improved the attaching mechanism.
  • They added a removable acrylic faceplate to protect the LCD and control panel from accidental biodiesel spills. The faceplate lifts up and out of the way to operate and can be removed completely if you don’t need it.
  • They made the auto off feature adjustable so you can adjust it to go off after you finish weighing and not in the middle of the job.

Building version 2 of the heated fuel filter

The new batch of heated fuel filters are almost finished. We cut the metal, rolled it in the press, drilled the holes for the fittings, and prepared everything for welding. We hope to get them welded up tomorrow. More pics can be found in our Photo Album.


John Deere 790D Veggie Conversion

Today Melvin and I filtered another 300 gallon batch of Veggie Oil, and helped Luray start his TrackHoe (JD 790D) WVO Conversion. This is the unit I helped him rebuild the bucket cylinder last week. The heat exchanger has been installed and the 60 gallon tank filled with wvo. Tomorrow we build a heated filter for it, and install a 24 vdc fuel pump for the veggie tank. Pics will be uploaded tomorrow.


Wiring LED Lighting

How can you wire up LED lighting? There are some precautions, in order to ensure long life of your bulbs, but it’s easy, and they don’t consume a lot of juice.

Why do you need a resistor with an LED? The short answer: to limit the current in the LED to a safe value.

The long answer: LEDs are semiconductors, diodes in particular. The current flowing in an LED is an exponential function of voltage across the LED. The important part about that for you is that a small change in voltage can produce a huge change in current. That is the most important concept of this article. Resistors aren’t like that. The current and voltage in a resistor are linearly related. That means that a change in voltage will produce a proportional change in current. Current versus voltage is a straight line for a resistor, but not at all for an LED. –More

A good calculator for determining the size resistor needed for series/parallel strings of LED’s can be found here. If using White LED’s (3 in series) with a operating voltage of 3.8v, and a current of 20ma each, and a 13.8vdc supply, we want a resistor of 150 Ohm, 1/8 Watt.

These series strings of 3 LED’s and one 150 ohm resistor can be wired in parallel.

Check out these Mega Bright white LED’s.


Dirty fuel filter

Last night we noticed the fuel filter on the VeggiGen was getting plugged. How do we know? RPM surging, and little to no fuel from the return line. Our filter is in a vacuum position. The pump sucks. This afternoon, I replumbed the filter into a pressure scenario. Now the pump blows, and I’ll be able to get more life from the filter. No more surging or rpm variation, and a full steady return. I still need to replace the filter ($12), but not as often. The pump is protected by a prefilter in the fuel drum as outlined in our sock filter post.


RVers’ Guide to Solar Battery Charging

This afternoon I received the latest edition of the RVers’ Guide to Solar Battery Charging. An excellent book outlining the peculiarities of mobile off-grid living, the advice is good for anyone wanting to live with solar, batteries, generators, and a energy conservative lifestyle. I recommend it for RV’s, Boats, fixed off-gridders and off-grid hopefuls. Published by


Prairie Farm Report

I was watching the Prairie Farm Report on RFD TV today. It was one of the Inventions episodes, showing some very cool farm inventions. Farmer designed gps guided seeder, DIY air powered seed drills, and many other neat things. Now, if we could only get our truck and tractor veggie oil conversions showcased …..


Olive oil fed 2000 BC foundries

(ANSA) – Nicosia, March 6 – Olive oil was used as fuel for foundries before it became one of the glories of the Mediterranean cuisine, Italian archaeologists believe .

A team from Rome has discovered that the Mediterranean’s first foundries were fuelled by olive oil and not, as previously believed, by charcoal .

Exploring a dig site in southern Cyprus which has already yielded the oldest wine and silk in the Mediterranean, the Italians unearthed copper-smelting ovens dating back to 2,000 BC .

They found that the walls were covered with thick, black resin .

Samples of the mysterious pitch-like substance were sent back to Rome from the site at Pyrgos Mavroraki near Limassol for analysis at the Institute of Technologies Applied to Art (ITABC) .

It turned out to be the burnt residue of olive oil .

Read the rest of the article at Ansa.


A proper explanation of Peukert’s Equation (Peukert’s Law)

Proper monitoring of an off-grid battery pack requires good instruments. A necessary item is a “gas gauge”, a way to track amps into, and out of the pack, showing current “fuel level”. The issue is capacity varies with the rate of discharge. Just like a car uses more fuel at higher speeds. Good meters compute a user entered Peukert number into the equation. The Peukert number describes the internal resistance of the battery, and it’s ability to discharge at various rates. The following (from Smart Gauge) explains the issue:

Mr Peukert first devised a formula that showed numerically how discharging at higher rates actually removes more power from the battery than a simple calculation would show it to do. For instance discharging at 10 amps does not remove twice as much power as discharging at 5 amps. It removes slightly more. Therefore a 100 amp hour battery (at the 20hr rating) could provide 5 amps for 20 hours, but it could not provide 10 amps for 10 hours. The available time would actually be slightly less.

They have a very cool spreadsheet that allows you to play “what if” with your ah rating, and the Peukert number for your batteries (or for batteries you’d like to have). For example, my Trojan T-105’s are rated at 1.24 Peukert, where Concorde AGM’s are rated at 1.18. The Concordes would give me an additional 40ah at a 135a draw.

For this “gas gauge” function, we use a CruzPro VAH30. Other good ones are the Trimetric, Smart Gauge, and the E-Meter.


Distinguished Visitor

Early this AM, we had a surprise visitor stop by. Ross Goodyear, president of the St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum, stopped to take a look at our Detroit 2-71 VeggieGen. Ross has a 4-71 powering his sawmill, and a 2-53 he’s working on, and wanted to see what it takes to run one on veggie oil. Bob Notell, a member of the group, own’s this beautifully restored Fairbanks Morse 32 volt generator. We will post additional pieces from the museum from time to time.