The popularity of biodiesel as a substitute to petroleum-based fuel has increased over the last decade. Nowadays, many people have been using it rather than diesel and gasoline. This fuel type is made of vegetable oil instead of petroleum. It makes use of esters found in vegetable oil. Transesterification is the name of the process used to convert oil into biodiesel.
Biodiesel’s popularity is due to two reasons. The main reason is the low cost of producing this type of fuel. There is no doubt that the prices of diesel and gasoline have been hurting the pockets of majority of people worldwide. By using biodiesel, lots of money is saved. This money could be used for other important things.
The other reason why biodiesel is popular is its environmentally friendly characteristic. Unlike petroleum-based fuel types that pollute the air, biodiesel does not harm the environment in any way.
The benefits of biodiesel have made many people want to know how it is produced. Actually, it is easy to make, and it can be made at home using a biodiesel processor. This device turns ordinary vegetable oil into biodiesel.
Before planning to produce your own biodiesel, it is important to be sure that your diesel engine can be operated using this fuel. The best thing to do is ask the manufacturer. Either go to their office or inquire on their website. If there is no way for you to contact the manufacturer, research online. In case your engine cannot be run on biodiesel, you can still use this fuel if you have a biodiesel conversion kit. Know the perfect conversion kit for your engine by researching online or by asking someone you know who has the same engine as yours and uses biodiesel. Purchase or make a biodiesel processor when you are already sure that your engine can run on biodiesel.
- Vegetable oil – This is the main component of biodiesel. It contains triglycerides which are essential in the production of the fuel. Any type of vegetable oil is okay, but corn oil is the most preferred type. Both new and used oil may be used.
- Methanol – Methanol is a type of alcohol.
- Sodium hydroxide – The other name for sodium hydroxide is lye. It is a catalyst.
Biodiesel Making Process
In the biodiesel processor, combine vegetable oil and methanol. Only a small amount of methanol should be used. Mix the two ingredients thoroughly then add the lye. Use a very small amount of lye. The biodiesel processor takes away the fatty acids from triglycerides, leaving only the glycerin. Molecules of ethanol take the place left by the fatty acids. This process is called transesterification. Once transesetericication is done, a liquid containing 90% biodiesel is produced. The remaining 10% is a byproduct of glycerin.
Making biodiesel using a biodiesel processor is really easy. The device is easy to operate and is actually very small. Some units are already assembled when bought, while others have to be assembled at home. In case you would buy a non-assembled unit, it is important to follow assembling instructions carefully. Of course, utmost care should also be taken when operating the device.