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How to Make Biodiesel Fuel from Plants

Global Warming is killing our planet and as what Al Gore explained its caused is from the diesel pollution. Imagine how much pollution it covers the earth from 2 million cars running each day, and not to include the different industrial plants that uses crude oil and or diesel for power sources. Our planet can't be as healthy as before if we are not going to look for new ways to fuel our machineries.

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Make your own Bio-Fuel
courtesy from www.biodiesel-fuel.co.ukknow that the process of making biodiesel is known as transesterification and is achieved by adding methanol to vegetable oil. The process requires a catalyst to increase the rate of the chemical reaction between the methanol and vegetable oil. The catalyst used in the creation of biodiesel is an alkaline one, either Sodium Hydroxide or Potassium Hydroxide.
When the process is complete the catalyst can be recovered unaffected by the chemical reaction that it accelerated, along with the glycerol separated from the vegetable oil.
f waste vegetable oil is used then we have another situation to deal with. Waste vegetable oil will have been been reheated several times during the course of its usage. The reheating will cause some of the fatty acids bonded to the glycerol to break away and float freely in the vegetable oil - hence the name Free Fatty Acid (FFA). There are two ways of dealing with free fatty acids:
  1. Esterify the FFAs creating methyl esters then proceeding with the transesterification.
  2. Increase the amount of catalyst in the single transesterifaction process so that the additional catalyst neutralises the FFAs creating soap as an additional by-product.
Option 1 is used in the commercial production of biodiesel, but for smaller scale production option 2 is favoured as it reduces the complexity of the process. Following option 2, we would have to perform a titration on a sample of the waste vegetable oil in order to calculate the amount of additional catalyst required to neutralise the FFAs.
The additional catalyst would then react with the FFAs creating soap in the process.
Like the catalyst, this excess methanol will be left over after completion of the reaction.

Step by Step from the Top

The commencement of the production process depends upon the type of oil employed, and whether it is fresh oil or used oils from the catering industry. In the case of the latter, a titration process takes place, the result of which determines the proportions of methanol to sodium hydroxide used in the preparation of the reaction catalyst. (Inadequate or omitted titration on used vegetable oil is the single biggest cause of fatty deposits in fuel filters).
There are then the following steps in the process of producing the biodiesel:
  1. Filtration of inbound waste oil
  2. Drying the fuel (i.e. removing water content, especially in the case of used oils)
  3. Transesterification (specifically, the separation of the methyl esters from the glycerol)
  4. Settling period
  5. Separation of the biodiesel fuel from the glycerine layer [containing glycerol, catalyst, soap and methanol]
  6. Washing the biodiesel fuel
  7. Filtration to 5 microns
  8. Drying the fuel again
  9. Final products of biodiesel fuel and the by-products
If you want to learn how to make biodiesel we can help guide you in the right direction and avoid the costly mistakes! 
Foodstock for Biodiesel
courtesy of wikipedia.com A variety of oils can be used to produce biodiesel. These include:
  • Virgin oil feedstock; rapeseed and soybean oils are most commonly used, soybean oil alone accounting for about ninety percent of all fuel stocks in the US. It also can be obtained from field pennycress and Jatropha other crops such as mustard, flax, sunflower, palm oil, hemp (see List of vegetable oils for a more complete list);
  • Waste vegetable oil (WVO);
  • Animal fats including tallow, lard, yellow grease, chicken fat, and the by-products of the production of Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.
  • Algae, which can be grown using waste materials such as sewage and without displacing land currently used for food production.
Many advocates suggest that waste vegetable oil is the best source of oil to produce biodiesel, but since the available supply is drastically less than the amount of petroleum-based fuel that is burned for transportation and home heating in the world, this local solution does not scale well.
Animal fats are similarly limited in supply, and it would not be efficient to raise animals simply for their fat. However, producing biodiesel with animal fat that would have otherwise been discarded could replace a small percentage of petroleum diesel usage. Currently, a 5-million dollar plant is being built in the USA, with the intent of producing 11.4 million litres (3 million gallons) biodiesel from some of the estimated 1 billion kg (2.3 billion pounds) of chicken fatproduced annually the local Tyson poultry plant

Quantity of feedstocks required

Worldwide production of vegetable oil and animal fat is not yet sufficient to replace liquid fossil fuel use. Furthermore, some object to the vast amount of farming and the resulting fertilization, pesticide use, and land use conversion that would be needed to produce the additional vegetable oil. The estimated transportation diesel fuel and home heating oil used in the United States is about 160 million tonnes (350 billion pounds) according to the Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy . In the United States, estimated production of vegetable oil for all uses is about 11 million tonnes (24 billion pounds) and estimated production of animal fat is 5.3 million tonnes (12 billion pounds).
If the entire arable land area of the USA (470 million acres, or 1.9 million square kilometers) were devoted to biodiesel production from soy, this would just about provide the 160 million tonnes required (assuming an optimistic 98 gpa of biodiesel). This land area could in principle be reduced significantly using algae, if the obstacles can be overcome. The US DOE estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require 15,000 square miles (38,849 square kilometers), which is a few thousand square miles larger than Maryland, or 1.3 Belgiums, assuming a yield of 15000 gpa. The advantages of algae are that it can be grown on non-arable land such as deserts or in marine environments, and the potential oil yields are much higher than from plants.


Feedstock yield efficiency per acre affects the feasibility of ramping up production to the huge industrial levels required to power a significant percentage of national or world vehicles. Some typical yields in US gallons of biodiesel per acre are:
  • Algae: 1800 gpa or more (est.- see soy figures and DOE quote below)
  • Palm oil: 508 gpa
  • Coconut: 230 gpa
  • Rapeseed: 102 gpa
  • Soy: 59.2-98.6 gpa in Indiana(Soy is used in 80% of USA biodiesel)
  • Peanut: 90 gpa
  • Sunflower: 82 gpa
Algae fuel yields have not yet been accurately determined, but DOE is reported as saying that algae yield 30 times more energy per acre than land crops such as soybeans. and some estimate even higher yields up to 15000 gpa .
The Jatropha plant has been cited as a high-yield source of biodiesel but such claims have also been exaggerated. The more realistic estimates put the yield at about 200 gpa (1.5-2 tonnes per hectare). It is grown in the Philippines, Mali and India, is drought-resistant, and can can share space with other cash crops such as coffee, sugar, fruits and vegetables.

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