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Old 10-19-2006, 10:06 AM
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Default Converting a fuel oil furnace to burn waste oil? Possible?

Curious about this, I've been offered a huge, ~150,000 BTU fuel oil furnace that works fine, the shop just switched over to waste oil & LP to save money. It's mine if I cut a few brackets and take it out of the ceiling, obviously I don't want to heat my shop with fuel oil either, but I'm curious if it's possible to convert this unit to run on waste oils - used oil, ATF, etc. Anybody tried this?
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Old 10-19-2006, 10:48 AM
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Well, anything is possible, the question probably is whether or not it's practical. The waste oil heater in our truck shop (350,000Btu Reznor) does not share that much in common with a regular oil burner. It takes compressed air to make the thicker oil atomize properly, and it has several more safety and limit switches than a fuel oil unit. My main concern would be if the heat exchanger in the regular unit would stand up to the higher Btu/gallon of the waste oil. That being said, if all of the waste oil heaters give as much trouble as the one we bought, I'd probably just as soon wear a coat.
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Old 10-19-2006, 11:57 AM
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Maybe the newer units are better; but I had one about 10 years back that was a huge PITA. It required constant attention and my big problem was getting GOOD waste oil. Lots of people will be your pal because you are getting rid of their oil; but they try to sneak in all kinds of crap. It's not as easy or economical as it appears unless YOU generate a huge volume of oil for yourself.
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Old 10-19-2006, 01:00 PM
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I agree with the negatives you can come up against, but it can be done at a huge cost savings if you can get the cleaner less contaminated waste oils. Just make a point to stay away from those that add their waste coolants and floor sweepings. lol

Do some searches on the web and you'll find more information on the home brew and home do-it-your-selfer retro's than you'll have time to read.

It will work, but as said, it may take a little piddling to get something that is safe and cost effective.

LW
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Last edited by LW Hiway; 10-19-2006 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 10-19-2006, 01:26 PM
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made one out of an old gas can and a 12" piece of pipe. need to add forced air, but i originally built it for disposal. smokes a bit without the air. if i'm doing it indoors i add a small air stream from compressor. burns clean. large airstream get very hot 1000* or more and 15 foot flame. :evil:
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Old 10-21-2006, 10:13 AM
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thats a pretty cool idea. i never herd of using old oil for heat, shore wish i could convert my house. paid over $3,000. last winter and not shore if i can even aford to heat this winter, might just light the couch on fire for heat.
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Old 12-09-2023, 11:58 AM
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Look up oil settling, the biodiesel folks use it. Sort of like top’s method, but having 2-3 containers in series, with each being a settling spot. I’ll see if I can find or sketch something up later.


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Old 12-10-2023, 11:01 PM
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What do you do with emulsified oil where the water and oil are so thoroughly mixed it becomes a chocolate syrup? Will the water eventually settle or freeze?

I have no plans on using a waste oil burner but I do remember in my younger days not being care full enough with waste oil as mccutter has alluded to. Yep, I was that guy.
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Old 12-11-2023, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arizonian View Post
What do you do with emulsified oil where the water and oil are so thoroughly mixed it becomes a chocolate syrup? Will the water eventually settle or freeze?

I have no plans on using a waste oil burner but I do remember in my younger days not being care full enough with waste oil as mccutter has alluded to. Yep, I was that guy.
That is known as a mechanical emulsion. Think a homogenizer used with milk.

To see if you can break the emulsion, using items average person can do and still get a usable product. Get a glass jar, like a pint sized mason jar or any empty food jar from the kitchen.

1. Start with 4 ozs. of the emulsified oil and 4 ozs. of diesel fuel.
2. This will fill the pint jar about 1/2 way shake hard and see if you get a split.
3. What you will most likely get is a dirty looking water layer on the bottom, a rag layer in the middle and an oil and diesel mix on top.
4. If this works, repeat using less and less diesel every time, until you do not get a split.
5. Back up and treat rate and use your larger oil container and let split, the longer you can wait the better.

Freezing generally will not split a emulsion effectively.

There are other chemicals that can be added like calcium chloride, but you are just adding cost to what should be a free fuel.
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Old 12-11-2023, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitetrash View Post
I was going to suggest being patient and letting things settle out and pouring off into a secondary tank and basically doing. Wash, Rinse Repeat. I'm waiting to hear how the centrifuge works.
This is the method most people will use and I used this for a few years..

it's messy, It takes a long time and the amount of space used is impressive.


The centrifuge changed it all.. I can use any oil at any time, even oil with water in it. depending one how dirty the oil is depends on how fast the oil is pumped into the centrifuge.. for clean oil I do about 20gph..

For dirty oil or oil I'm going to run in my 7.3L I'll run it at 10gph.

It was a game changer..

Quote:
Originally Posted by toprecycler View Post
Inquiring minds want to know. Which centrifuge unit did you get?

I am experiencing same issues with dirt and water in oil I get for my waste oil furnace. I’m looking at ideas to separate them.

But I am also wired very frugal ( cheap) I probably will try to end up reverse engineering something from the pictures/ videos that I find, and making something of my own. Why, because I can. That’s why I have invested in the equipment in my home shop. Part of the challenge and satisfaction will be in the build process.

How well does the centrifuge work for waste oil?
PA Biodiesel is what I bought with a heater.. The whole package was 1700.00..

They had a sale and I jumped in..

Both the Clave oil burner and the centrifuge could be made easily if someone had the time.

I will more than likely make my own burner at some point.. I'll be making my own furnace as well.. The Glenwood dual fuel furnace has caught my eye.

The Clave oil burner has some decent features but there are a few things that I think could be made better with all used oil burners..

Using a regular nozzle for starters.. But the oil would have to be clean..

The body of the centrifuge could be fabricated and the bowel turned on the lathe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scratch View Post
I recently built a waste oil burner and while I’ve only been burning with it a month or so, I’ve found it super easy to clean the oil and use. I have a 20 gallon bucket in the unheated loft above my heated shop in my pole barn. I cut an 8”hole in the bucket top, and set a powdered sugar screen bowl in there then just dump in the old oil. I set another uncut bucket top on top of that when I’m not adding oil to keep dust and debris out. Seems to be working great so far.

As far as water, I pour all my one gallon containers that people give me into five gallon buckets and let them sit. The water settles to the bottom and freezes. I pour the top unfrozen oil into my 20 gallon bucket and the ice stays in the bucket. I do still get some water occasionally into my stove but I can see it through the drip feed and hear it sizzling so I just open up the feed and let it dump into the stove until it’s gone. Takes about 10 seconds.

The biggest problem I have is sometimes debris must get past my screen and clogs the drip tube. It’s set at eye level so I just take a peek every time I walk past it in the shop, but If I see no flow, I just open it up and let the clog push through then turn it down again. Probably happens once every 6 hours or so.

So far I’m liking burning waste oil and have had no problem getting it for free.
If you using a drip type burner, the burner itself doesn't care.. Water just makes the flames sizzle in the pan once it's hot.

No reason to clean it for the most part..

The commercial type used oil burners are built differently..

Be curious as to what you put together.. They have kits now that anyone can retrofit a Beckett burner into a waste oil burner.

I found them last year..

Quote:
Originally Posted by mccutter View Post
I'm not a burner but one of my peeves is some lazy fuck who drains his oil and just leaves it in the pan or pours it into a 5gal bucket, both uncovered. You'all would LOVE my waste oil...
yes, me too.. But it seems to be normal.. Wish it wasn't so..

Quote:
Originally Posted by greywynd View Post
Look up oil settling, the biodiesel folks use it. Sort of like top’s method, but having 2-3 containers in series, with each being a settling spot. I’ll see if I can find or sketch something up later.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Yes, they do.. At least the really cheap guys.. Settling works but it's so slow.. If your using 30 gallons a month.. Well that's nothing..

Settling won't clean the oil as well as a centrifuge.

I burn about 1/2 gallon for 1hrs.. It's the main heat for the shop. On a single fill of the feeder tank I get about 100hrs of burn time..

I go thru about 1200gallons a year.

problem is I need to install some sort of air mover.. It gets really hot at the ceiling.. Need a way to push it down.. Looking at air cleaners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arizonian View Post
What do you do with emulsified oil where the water and oil are so thoroughly mixed it becomes a chocolate syrup? Will the water eventually settle or freeze?

I have no plans on using a waste oil burner but I do remember in my younger days not being care full enough with waste oil as mccutter has alluded to. Yep, I was that guy.
When the oil and water is mixed there is no great way to separate them.

I found that heating the emulsion does help a lot.. But using the centrifuge what ever does not separate I just clean out of the centrifuge and burn it in a pan in the furnace.

It's one of the great things about having a multi fuel furnace. It can burn nearly anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shade Tree Welder View Post
That is known as a mechanical emulsion. Think a homogenizer used with milk.

To see if you can break the emulsion, using items average person can do and still get a usable product. Get a glass jar, like a pint sized mason jar or any empty food jar from the kitchen.

1. Start with 4 ozs. of the emulsified oil and 4 ozs. of diesel fuel.
2. This will fill the pint jar about 1/2 way shake hard and see if you get a split.
3. What you will most likely get is a dirty looking water layer on the bottom, a rag layer in the middle and an oil and diesel mix on top.
4. If this works, repeat using less and less diesel every time, until you do not get a split.
5. Back up and treat rate and use your larger oil container and let split, the longer you can wait the better.

Freezing generally will not split a emulsion effectively.

There are other chemicals that can be added like calcium chloride, but you are just adding cost to what should be a free fuel.
I've tried the diesel fuel.. It's a very time-consuming process and costly.

I've found it's better to run it thru the centrifuge and whatever it collects to burn it in the furnace..

Great info..

I found that certain oils have an affinity and absorb water in substantial quantities. It is really interesting seeing how the layers take place..
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