Biodiesel


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

April 2, 2014

Tom finished consturction of waste cooking oil dewatering system

more


Subway® Donates Microwave

March 22, 2014

Subway® generously donated a commercial grade microwave for the project

more

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Our Goal

Calvin College Senior Design Team One, The Diesel Crew, is designing and prototyping a reactor system to convert waste cooking oil into biodiesel. Biodiesel has regained interest in the last decade as an alternative to petroldiesel, with rising fuel prices and an ever increasing push towards sustainability. The exploration of alternative fuel sources is a common interest of the members of The Diesel Crew, which has led to the selection of this project.


The design criteria for the prototype are that the system must be easily portable, simple to operate, and have a relatively quick production time while addressing all safety concerns, such as chemical exposure, flammability and high temperatures. These criteria were chosen on the values of stewardship, transparency and responsibility to end-user that are shared by the team members.

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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 more 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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