A clean, renewable alternative to diesel that can be produced from a variety of vegetable oils such as these soybean plants. more

The Diesel Crew.

Starting from the left: Tom Voss, Angus Richeson, Adam Alexander, and Mike Lubben. more

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Diesel Crew members Mike and Angus disassemble a chemical reactor for parts. Reactor donated by Pfizer. more

Microwave Reactor

The Diesel Crew has implemented a microwave reactor to achieve high levels of waste cooking oil conversion to biodiesel. more

Latest Updates:

Dewatering System

May 15, 2014

The team's final report was finished and is now available on the downloads page.

Senior Design Night

May 10, 2014

The Diesel Crew presented their finsihed biodiesel reactor.



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Our Goal

Calvin College Senior Design Team One, The Diesel Crew, designed and prototyped a reactor system to convert waste cooking oil into biodiesel. Biodiesel has regained interest in the last decade as an alternative to petrol diesel, due to rising fuel prices and an ever increasing push towards sustainability. The members of the Diesel Crew have a common interest in exploration of alternative fuel sources and participation in a hands on project. With these shared desires, the team selected a biodiesel reactor system for this project.


The team had a few goals for this project; the team wanted to design and operate a continuous process, implement a control system, and build a reactor that was competitive with established batch processes in terms of size and production. The team desired to build a reactor system fit for an institution the size of Calvin College, or for a home user. The team met these goals while addressing safety concerns, such as chemical exposure, flammability and high temperatures. These criteria were chosen on the values of stewardship, transparency and responsibility to the end-user, all values shared by the team members.


What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel source made from vegetable oils or animal fats. Biodiesel can be used as a direct subsititute for petroleum based diesel fuel in nearly all automobile engines. Typically, a 20% blend of biodiesel in petrodiesel is used known as B20. The use of biodiesel has many advantages:

  • Provides better lubrication of engine components extending engine life
  • Made from an abundant array of renewable resources
  • Produces less harmful emissions of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter
  • No new carbon dioxide is added to the carbon cycle, resulting in a sustainable practice
  • Safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable, eliminating the risk of an environmental catastrophe


Design Overview


Click image for detailed PFD


Design Objectives

  • A total process cycle time of less than 3 hours.
  • Reactor is able to utilize a wide variety of feedstocks
  • Transparency in design allowing for easy operation
  • Biodiesel produced meets or exceeds all regulatory standards of biodiesel purity
  • Reactor is small enough to be wheeled through a doorway or easily dissassembled
  • Target cost of under $2,000 with funds provided by donations and the Calvin Senior Design Budget
  • Low maintenance design with easily replaced consumables, such as filters


*See the Details Page for a more information about our project.


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