Pondering BioDiesel

Yes, I know, Scott is on another full blown obsession, so get me a counselor!! Sitting here in Melbourne airport at 5am in the morning surfing Biodiesel sites sipping Gloria Jeans Long Macs.
But I thought I would confess to you my readers that I have bought a profession biodiesel production plant. I went pro so I could register it and do it legal like as well as the safety factor combined with the greater chance of not stuffing up my cars!!

The company that sold the plant to me has some great sites, an extract from one of the is below.

What could go wrong at this point?

  • I need a source of used oil. Yes, I know I should have got it before I paid out the cash (Matt!!), but I have faith…and a few good leads. There is lots of oil out there, I just need to convince the people to give it to me rather than the company that has the contract to take it now.
  • And secondly…I don’t have a diesel car …yet.
  • It’s all about timing, so the other thing on my mind is the whole balance thing (no not in my mind and life). But things like, what if I get a source of used oil, a big one, and all of a sudden, before I even know how to make it, I have drums of oil lining my drive before my license kicks in or before I even know how to make the stuff. (I am doing a course). What if I do all of the above, start making it, but don’t get the car for 4 months. I then have drums of biodiesel lining the driveway, not used veggie oil!!! Anyway, all about timing.

Useful WA sites – http://www.bioworks.com.au/index.shtml
http://ww.biodieselwarehouse.com.au/
UWA

Main attributes of biodiesel

Renewable resource – Biodiesel is derived from vegetable oil, used cooking oils and animal tallow. These feedstocks can be produced indefinitely, using sustainable farming techniques to provide an environmentally friendly, sustainable fuel.

Widely used and accepted – Biodiesel is a proven fuel with an extensive history in the US and wide usage in Europe.

Carbon neutrality – Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store the carbon primarily in the form of carbohydrates and oils. By using vegetable oils as a raw material, biodiesel recycles carbon through the biosphere, allowing a significant reduction in carbon emissions when compared to traditional sources of energy.

What is biodiesel
Biodiesel is a clean burning fuel made from vegetable oil or animal fats. It can be used in modern compression-ignition (diesel) engines without requiring any engine modifications. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, non-toxic, carbon neutral and is essentially free of sulphur and aromatics.

How is it produced
Vegetable oils and animal fats consist of a glycerine molecule, with three ‘fatty acid’ molecules attached to it. Biodiesel is made through a process called transesterification whereby the glycerine is separated from the fatty acids. The process leaves behind two products – biodiesel (Mono-alkyl ester) and glycerine (a by-product used in soaps and other products).

The process of manufacturing biodiesel is relatively simple. The feedstock oil is mixed with methanol and a catalyst (NaOH or KOH) to produce a reaction that creates biodiesel and glycerine. Applying heat and pressure to the reaction decreases the processing time. The Glycerine fraction is heavier than the biodiesel, allowing it to separate out naturally after the reaction. Ethanol can be used instead of methanol for biodiesel production, however the reaction is less predictable.

Advantages of biodiesel

  • Renewable – vegetable oil derived fuel
  • Potential for Carbon Neutral lifecycle
  • Simple to make
  • Non-toxic
  • Biodiesel is free from sulphur (
  • The only alternative fuel that does not require engine modification or retuning
  • Safer for storage and handling than petroleum diesel
  • Can be used neat or blended in any ratio with petroleum diesel
  • Biodegradable
  • Higher Lubricity – can prolong engine life
  • Dramatically reduced emissions
  • High flashpoint
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8 thoughts on “Pondering BioDiesel

  1. fuel plant first, car second….hmm..
    you are a little different to the average man…

    i am seriously considering buying an old charade and doing a full electric conversion on it. if i do it, we could have an eco-drag. 🙂

  2. I do enjoy ‘higher lubricity’!
    You are a man on a mission Scott, and I have to say that the electric conversion sounds interesting!

  3. Dean – It’s also what you can make soap out of I think, if not washing will go off with a bang!

    Roo – You know it!

    Gary – maybe I could post you some of my oil, it could be good for so many things, and its good for you, massage oil maybe??

  4. with all that glycerine you will have to go into soap making. Also see the primary schools – they use it for making bubble mix for blowing bubbles.

  5. Food that is grown for biofuel will create and is creating many problems. Food shortages we know of in the developing(?) world and the rising costs of food due to supply, it also relies on monoculture which leads to serious environmental problems.

    But then I guess the problems created are not in our backyard.

  6. Thats why I wont take oil first hand, only second hand, not grown for use as a biofuel, this is certainly a big issue, this week’s Time magazine front cover.

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