Monday, 14 March 2011

How to Refine Crude Jatropha Oil For Bio Diesel

Oil extracted from the seeds of the Jatropha plant is used as a green alternative to fossil fuel. Jatropha oil comes from seeds of the perennial Jatropha plant. According to the Turkish Agricultural Guide Organization, each seed is 40 percent oil and one square mile of Jatropha is capable of yielding 2000 barrels of biodiesel fuel.



The Jatropha Curacas plant is generally cultivated for the purpose of extracting crude Jatropha oil. (CJO) The seeds are the primary source from which the oil is extracted. Owing to the toxicity of Jatropha seeds they are not ingested by humans as they contain rycin.
The major goal of Jatropha cultivation, therefore, is performed for the sake of extracting Jatropha oil. The optimum oil content in Jatropha plants varies between species and genetic variants.  
gouttes de pluie sur jeune feuille de jatropha image by Unclesam from Fotolia.com
It is often considered that a more effective extraction technique would yield greater quantities of oil. This is partly inaccurate, since an effective extraction method would only yield the optimum quantity and not more than that.

Climatic and soil conditions generally affect the yield of the oil as well. However, improper processing techniques such as prolonged exposure of the harvested seeds to direct sunlight can impair the oil yield considerably.

The maximum oil content that has been reported in Jatropha seeds has been close to 47%. However, the accepted average is 40%, and the fraction that can be extracted is taken to be around 91%. 


Refining Crude Jatropha oil uses Potasium Hydroxide as a catalyst to break the oil's triglyceride chain and reduce its viscosity for use in automotive engines.

Potassium Hydroxide breaks the triglyceride chain by removing the binding glycerin molecule. This process is called Trans-Ester-Fication. The remaining Jatropha oil molecules can then be burnt by automotive diesel engines as biodiesel or further refined to make Bio Synthetic Parafinic Kerosine (Bio SPK)

Potassium Hydroxide is a preferable catalyist to Sodium Hydroxide in the refining of Crude Jatropha Oil. (CJO)


  • 1.lite Crude Jatropha Oil (Crush 3kg of Seed)
  • 200ml methanol, 99+% pure
  • 7.5 grams Potassium Hydroxide
  • Blender with glass container
  • Scales
  • 2 glass beakers
  • 2  litre Coke Type Bottles
  • Plastic funnels
  • 3 bottles, 2.5-quart or larger
  • Thermometer
  • Respirator
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles
Pour the methanol into the plastic container and add the 7.5 grams of Potassium Hydroxide screw the cap on tightly. Swirl and shake the container to dissolve the Potassium Hydroxide. Wait until the particles have dissolved to continue. This is your methoxide catalyst.

Heat the Jatropha oil to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and pour it into the blender. Add the methoxide from the plastic container. Cap the blender tightly and mix on low for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture from the blender into one of the glass bottles. Screw the lid on tightly and let the mixture settle for at least 72 hours to get the best possible most complete reaction.

Uncap the bottle and remove the layer of biodiesel and transfer it to a bottle to wash it in, two litre coke bottles are ideal for a small scale wash.

Leave the darker layer of glycerin that's settled at the bottom of the first bottle in the open air for three weeks for any excess methanol to evaporate and the glycerin can be used to make natural soap.


Wash the biodiesel by pouring it into one of the plastic bottles and adding half a litre of distilled (boiled tap) water and agitating the mixture until the oil and water appear thoroughly combined.

Let the bottle sit for at least three hours, drain the water from the bottom of the bottle, remember to wear gloves as this is "caustic water" which can be used as drain cleaner or for making soap.


Keep washing the biodiesel until the water is clear, your biofuel should then be left to stand for 24 hours in a dry place so that any excess water can evaporate. Your Jatropha Oil has now been refined and is ready to use in any diesel engine!

To make batches bigger than 1 litre at a time you will need a Biodiesel Processor the cheapest way is to build your own this is a good rescource that you can use to start building your own bio diesel processor at home.


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