The REC building will be the permanent install site for our biodiesel production system. Biodiesel will be produced by the chemistry students using the cooking oil from the school cafeteria and restaurant. The final product of biodiesel will then be used to fuel compatible school vehicles as well as augmentation for the REC building’s duel fuel heating system.
Biodiesel is used instead of petroleum (or crude oil) and provides a cleaner alternative. Biodiesel is usually made from plant oils or animal fat through a series of chemical reactions. It is both non-toxic and it is also renewable which protects us from harming the environment. Because biodiesel essentially comes from plants and animals, the sources become much easier through farming and recycling.
Biodiesel is safe and can also be used in diesel engines with little or no modification needed. Although biodiesel can be used in its pure form, it is usually blended with standard diesel fuel. The blends are indicated by the abbreviation Bxx, the “xx” is the percentage of biodiesel in the mixture. For example, the most common blend that most of the people who create biodiesel is B20, or 20 percent biodiesel to 80 percent standard. Pure biodiesel is abbreviated with B100.
The process of converting vegetable oil into Biodiesel is also called ester interchange. To successfully complete the conversion the vegetable oil has to be combined with a smaller amount of Methanol and then put in the presence of a small quantity of an alkaline catalyst. Vegetable oil is made up of triglycerides, which is a compound of the trivalent alcohol glycerin with three fatty acids. The goal of the process of converting vegetable oil into Biodiesel is to separate, or detach the glycerin molecule from the three fatty acid and replace it with three methanol molecules. These process then yields roughly 90% Biodiesel and 10% of glycerin industries.