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  • Alchol O T

    Hi all, I have Googled and Wickpedia-ed and can not find what I'm looking for.
    What I am trying to do is make sure there isn't any water in My partial drums of methanol befor combining contents to get one full drum and return emptys for deposit.
    I have been told that moisture in the air over time can add up to a significant amount of water in the alky . Not good for parts or performance.
    I have read about distilling it with heat in a closed vessel and vacuum so the water is left behind, but then the article goes on to say be carefull as you can't tell water from methanol. So if you ''boil '' off the alky from the water in a vacuum and recover the vapor it will condense back to alky, so if you stay below 200F. there shouldn't be any water . Right?

    Seems like there should be an easier way.
    Steve

  • #2
    It isn't that simple. Have a look for information on making your own alcohol fuel. I'm sure it is a popular hobby these days.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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    • #3
      Steve.. I have a brand new drum of Methanol I've been trying to sell or give away or whatever. Problem is I was the only guy to run blown alky around here.
      There does seem to be a shelf life for that stuff.
      I always kept my barrels in a temperature controlled shed and used them up quick... a 572/14-71 will do that
      If I ever had a part barrel left over I'd pour the remains into plastic jerry cans. Never had a problem with it that way. I'm wondering about this barrel.. it's had to sit outside for a year now.
      Russ
      I have tools I don't even know I own...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by torker
        Steve.. I have a brand new drum of Methanol I've been trying to sell or give away or whatever.
        There does seem to be a shelf life for that stuff.
        I used them up quick... a 572/14-71 will do that
        If I ever had a part barrel left over I'd pour the remains into plastic jerry cans. I'm wondering about this barrel.. it's had to sit outside for a year now.
        Russ
        Russ, I would come and get it but we are to far apart.
        A 525 injected drinks it's share too.
        Russ why don't you mix it with your gas? 10-15% , you will offset the high cost of gas and use up the alky. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak.
        Nuff bout u now back to ME.
        Steve

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        • #5
          Unfortunately with alcohol and water, during simple distillation, an azeotrope is formed. This is a mixture of the water and the alcohol that cannot be separated further by ordinary distillation. I checked the Wikipedia entry on distillation as I couldn't remember the term azeotrope. I don't know what the percentages of methanol and water are in the azeotrope. Wikipedia article on distiilation says 95% for ethanol and water.

          See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distillation

          Alternately, if you can stand some waste, distilling with a temperature less than the boiling point of water will give you almost pure alcohol until the alcohol concentration gets to the point where the azeotrope forms.


          To determine the composition, one thing to try would be to measure the density. You'd need an accurate scale and graduated cylinder however. Density of methanol and density of water should be lookupable trivially.

          I think doctor demo's idea is great however adding it to the gas in your normal car. Methanol is a major component in the stuff for getting water out of your fuel system anyway.

          Best of Luck,

          Cameron

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          • #6
            Methanol is also corrosive to steel. I wouldn't put it in my regular vehicle unless it is certified ok to use methanol.

            To determine the composition, one thing to try would be to measure the density. You'd need an accurate scale and graduated cylinder however. Density of methanol and density of water should be lookupable trivially.
            Do like they do in a lab and dilute it precisely. Then you can use a wine densiometer that floats in the mixture and correct for the difference between methyl and ethyl. For instance, if you take what is nearly pure alcohol in 1 part (an aliquot) and mix it with 9 parts of water then a 90 percent mixture becomes a 9 percent mixture and you can measure it as if it were wine.
            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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            • #7
              Alcohol-based automotive fuels

              Originally posted by Evan
              Methanol is also corrosive to steel. I wouldn't put it in my regular vehicle unless it is certified ok to use methanol.
              .
              And that isn't all. The whole fuel system needs to be OK - tubing, seals, "rubber", carby (if you have one), injection system.

              There was quite a "push" here in OZ about 10% blend. Most modern cars are or seem to be OK. Older cars a more "suspect".

              Others in OZ will be more au fait with this than I am.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol_fuel

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_fuel

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_effect

              http://www.racv.com.au/wps/wcm/conne...25&submit.y=11

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              • #8
                You need to check the specific gravity with a hydrometer. at 60 degrees farenheit, it should be .792.

                If methanol sits around, or is left open it will absorb the humidity from the atmosphere. If you open a jug and plan to reseal it fo any lenght of time you need to purge the atmosphere from the container. I have used Nitrogen in the past.
                "the ocean is the ultimate solution"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ckelloug
                  Unfortunately with alcohol and water, during simple distillation, an azeotrope is formed. This cannot be separated further by ordinary distillation.

                  Alternately, if you can stand some waste, distilling with a temperature less than the boiling point of water will give you almost pure alcohol until the alcohol concentration gets to the point where the azeotrope forms.



                  Best of Luck,

                  Cameron
                  I would certainly be up for some waste instead of all waste.My thought process was to ''boil'' heat the methanol to it's vaporization point wich is below the water's boiling point then through a cooler to a holding tank all under vacuum.
                  Thanks Cameron
                  Steve

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by steverice
                    You need to check the specific gravity with a hydrometer. at 60 degrees farenheit, it should be .792.

                    If methanol sits around, or is left open it will absorb the humidity from the atmosphere. If you open a jug and plan to reseal it fo any lenght of time you need to purge the atmosphere from the container. I have used Nitrogen in the past.
                    You know you can go through life and have something right under your nose and not even give it a thought untill someone else brings it up and then the feeling of stupidity sets in.
                    I have nitrogen, and not only purge the drum, I could use it to ''pump'' the methanol from the drum instead of that stupid plastic hand pump and would never have to open a bung for a vent keeping air out alltogether. .
                    I don't have the hydrometer,cylinder or thermometer set any more I gave it away years ago.
                    Thanks for the info,
                    Steve

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                    • #11
                      A 55 gallon drum is NOT a pressure vessel. You would be advised to not pressurize the drum to transfer the MeOh. Most heavy duty drums with the clamp ring retained lid will only hold to about 7-8 psi and aren't really even intended for that. The stamped and rolled steel barrels can and will fail below 5 psi. We had a safety presentation at work a few years ago, a couple of guys at an overseas chemical plant were transferring liquid from a drum under pressure, and the drum exploded killing at least one of the two. The normal procedure was 5psi if I recall. After that there was a big safety initiative to make sure this was not a normal operating procedure anywhere in our plant.

                      As for stripping the MeOh from the H20, keep in mind that the boiling points are going to shift quite a ways when under vacuum. You need to be able to maintain a constant vacuum, and constant temperature to do this right. I think I would consider buying a few pounds of desiccant beads and dropping them in the barrel before I went to the trouble of trying to set up a distillation column.

                      Later,
                      Jason

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                      • #12
                        Risk

                        Is this really worth the worry and the risk?

                        If it goes wrong in any way I'd guess your wife, neighbours, insurance company and the law are not going to take too kindly to it. The only ones pleased may be the local press/media - if it fills a gap in a "slow day".

                        Why not just take it a local disposal centre or get a Contractor to dispose of it?

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                        • #13
                          Distillation is one method of removing water from alcohol, on the plus side methanol doesnt form an azeotrope with water, so distillation is fine if you have a fractionating column and an appropriate distilling apparatus. Jury rigging something is not something I'd do with a flammable and toxic solvent. On the down side for distillation is the time and energy cost.

                          Another method that will bring you down to dry again is using a drying agent and filtration or decantation. Calcium oxide is my drying agent of choice for alcohols.

                          Vacuum distillation of such a low boiling system would be most likely frustrating unless you have a very good way of regulating the vacuum to a very low value. Have you ever seen an entire flask flash over into a reciever because of too much vacuum? Very easy to do with methanol at room temperature. and you would need a chilled reciever and a fractionating column.

                          Not knowing what you are using the methanol for though and we cant suggest something that is best. Maybe you could use a drying agent, decant and filter and then bulk distill(no need for a frac column) to remove the trace of solids.

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                          • #14
                            Where do you suppose a person could buy calcium oxide, AKA unslaked lime today. I do not think the bricks and mortar folks even know what it is anymore. As an "off the wall" suggestion, buy a pound or two of silica gel, put it in a net bag and drop it in the methanol. If it changes colour, there was water and it is now in the silica gel. Dry the gel in an oven at "the recommended temperature," (I forget what that is- about 300F?) and try it again. If it changes colour AGAIN, repeat the process until it doesnt. Silica gel is comparatively cheap, available- (craft shops for drying flowers,) and absorbing water from stuff is what it does. Duffy
                            Duffy, Gatineau, Quebec

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                            • #15
                              Hi tryp,

                              It sounds like you have some experience with this. Are you a chemist by chance? Thanks for the response about the azeotrope not forming with methanol. I just assumed one would from because it does with ethanol and I didn't look it up. Bad assumption apparently.

                              For the OP,
                              You could always build a steam engine with a methanol fueled lamp as a heat source Should use up the alcohol in about 10000 years for the average local value of "steam engine".

                              Regards all,

                              Cameron

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