Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Can't Tell Me What To Do

When I started research potential vendors for biodiesel processors for work, I started contacting a few of them to ask questions, get my name out there, etc. Big mistake. For the longest time I've been plagued with phone calls from them (at least 2 from each, but up to 5+ from one). And I wouldn't mind if they were willing to help me or talk biodiesel to me. But they assume from the beginning that I am an idiot and only spurt biodiesel-isms. Standard stuff that one would say that is understood by all. But I am way beyond that...and I want to discuss the nitty gritty details. Which they are unwilling to do.  They are unwilling because it would interrupt their sales pitch.  I am also far beyond the sales pitch. Plus I am not the one choosing which one to buy..the Tribes are.

One guy is pretty nice and I like him. He's eccentric and I can't understand a word he says because he's straight from 'bama. He did call me a bunch and then have someone else email me.

All the sales men want me to come visit their facilities, and want to come and give a presentation. I told them too that I am just putting together a list and am going to send out a call for bids. They ignored that.

So anyways, there is this one guy, who happens to live 2 miles from where I work. Crazy right? He called me up and set up a time to visit, and I was all...wwwweeellllllllllllllll I guess it can't hurt. So he came and he told me basically the same word-for-word stuff he told me over the phone. He wouldn't answer any of my detailed questions and he had a hard time understanding that it was the Tribes getting the biodiesel, NOT the casinos. T.R.I.B.E.S. As in their own sovereign government. The casinos are just a Big Business that the tribes pay someone to run. The sales man kept on saying the casinos instead of Tribes, and then he assumed that they would put him up for free if (IF) he went to the casino (TRIBES) to train them in biodiesel making. Which they wouldn't. USET members don't even get a discount, let alone put up for free. That would be like the Holiday letting a DMV person stay for free because the Holiday in is in the USA and the DMV person works for the USA. Exactly like that.

Normally I don't think I would care, but he kept on treating me like I was the stupid one.  But really I sat there and listened to all this stuff I already knew and tried to ask in depth questions.  But those questions he usually shrugged off as not important.  Doesn't matter...I want to know the answer.

So one important question I asked was "Do you have a method to recover the methanol from the glycerin?" His response was that we didn't need to do that because it isn't cost effective. Recovering and reusing the methanol wouldn't save us any money.

But that's not why I asked. Here's why it's important to remove the methanol: the glycerin cannot be used for anything if it has the methonal in it because it will act as a dangerous and explosive substance. It will be impossible to do anything with the glycerin...even, at the very worst, dump it. The methanol in the glycerin will kill plants and wild life. It's important to remove it so that the Tribes can compost the glycerin to dispose of it, or use it as soap.

Some websites set up by do-it-yourselfers who don't know much of the science behind it all and don't make biodiesel to the scale that the Tribes plan to, say that you can let the glycerin set out and the methanol will naturally evaporate. But THE BOOK on DYI biodiesel making says that is very dangerous because if the glycerin forms a dried up layer on top or is covered or anything, the methanol gas will build up and become very explosive.

You see, it is VERY important that the methanol is removed, and he really did answer my question like I was stupid to ask it and told me he didn't think I needed to buy a methanol recovery distiller.

This all happened a month or more ago, and I was over it and then I got an email from him that was almost a word-for-word recap of what he tells me on the phone when he calls me and what he said in our meeting. Nothing new. And there was this:

"You had asked about a Methanol Recovery System.  After much R&D, it was decided that a Methanol Recovery System did not offer a substantial cost savings to our customers, did not recover enough Methanol to make a difference in cost savings of biodiesel production and has safety issues in recovering the Methanol."

Well I'm glad he decided that for me...the customer. Because I don't know anything at all about what I'm doing and I would only want it to save money, even though I work in an environmental office. All the high end biodiesel units do come with methanol recovery systems built in, fyi.

His unit does not come with 55 gallon barrels that hold the Used Veggie Oil and the finished biodiesel. He told me it would be to expensive to ship and I could just find some down there...by the tribes. I could. No. That's what I'm paying the contractor for! I told him that in the beginning, I am looking for a contractor who can set up a complete turn-key system for me.

I'm pretty sure he thinks he has it in the bag and that I am stupid and he is convincing me of all these things he says. But it's not even up to me....it's up to a group of 6 or 7 people in other states.

On a side note, I met someone the other day who truly believes that all non-Christians are the Children of Satan...according to Paul. You know...I've never liked Paul. He seems to be a little to uptight and rightous and holier than thou for me.

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