How to make biodiesel

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel for diesel engines made from vegetable oil or animal fat. Since it is derived from renewable organic materials and has been shown to reduce certain harmful emissions when burned compared to conventional diesel, bio-diesel has received wide attention as a “green” source of energy. Here are steps to synthesize this renewable fuel yourself.

Generally speaking, bio-diesel is an alternative or additive to standard diesel fuel that is made from biological ingredients instead of petroleum. And oils are just fats that are liquid at room temperature. The common thread shared by all bio-diesel sources is that they all contain fat in some form. These fats namely triacylglycerols are made up of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen atoms bound together and arranged into a specific pattern. These triacylglycerols are pretty pervasive. In addition to household vegetable oils, they’re also in general things like lard and butter. You could have seen a triglyceride count listed if you’ve been to a doctor and had some blood work done. There is only one way to visualize these fats as is to consider the capital letter “E”. The vertical skeleton that forms this E is a molecule called glycerol. Glycerin is a common ingredient for the manufacture of soaps, medicines and cosmetics. The horizontal element attached to this glycerol skeleton and forming E is three long chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. These are called fatty acids.

Back to the topic, how to make bio-diesel? There are some process below to show you making it by yourself:

Obtain high quality oil

For bio diesel making, the easiest oils are neutral vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower oil and corn. These oils are readily to buy at grocery stores or convenient shop, even supermarket and it has a low melting point, which means they will not solidify through too cold environment as depository. There are some tips below,

1. Avoid using peanut oil, coconut oil, palm oil, tallow, and lard. These sources of oil solidify at relatively high temperatures. Bio-diesel usually has a lower melting point than the oil it’s made from, but these oils can still be difficult for beginners.

2. Avoid olive oil. It, peanut oil, palm oil, tallow, and lard all contain more acids than in the recommended neutral oils. These extra acids can interfere with the reactions that take place to create the bio-diesel.

Work in a safe place

You can find suitable laboratories at most colleges and research institutions. Working at home is also possible but requires caution – manufacturing your own bio diesel may be illegal and can put your house at risk of a fire, smoke or carbon monoxide. But the main points are about well-ventilated and have clear access to running water, fire extinguisher, eye-wash stations.

Let’s do it

Heat the oil you prepared to 120 F, then add the calculated amount of methanol/hydroxide mixture. The FuelMeister processor we used conveniently lets you do the methanol/lye mixing inside a tank mounted to the lid. Agitate for an hour by running the transfer-pump hose back into the vessel. At this point the oil will have been converted into biodiesel. Allow the heavier glycerin to settle out for a few hours. Drain the glycerin from the bottom until you get lighter-colored, thinner biodiesel pouring from the valve. Then use water to wash the excess methanol, lye and soapy residue from the biodiesel. The water will settle to the bottom of the vessel in a few hours, where you can drain it out. That is cool, you may produce bio-diesel by yourself.

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