Project Overview

Our objective was to design and prototype a batch reactor to convert waste vegetable oil from the Calvin College dining halls into usable diesel fuel substitute. The project was funded with a Michigan Energy Grant.

Design Overview

Filtration System

  • It must remove solid particles which may accumulate throughout the system, reducing performance.
  • It must remove water which can lead to an unwanted biproduct in the reaction.


  • This is where the conversion process actually takes place.
  • We will be using a two step process. This is the best option from our research and it allows us to use different types of WVO.
  • The first reaction will be acid catalyzed and the second reaction will be base catalyzed.
  • The reactions are stimulated by heating and agitation.

Methanol Recovery

  • A vacuum pump draws off the methanol vapors through a heat exchanger where it condenses.
  • The recovered methanol can be used in other reactions, reducing the production costs.

Washing Process

  • In this step the reactants are separated from the biodiesel.
  • A chemical polisher will be used to ensure the biodiesel is of the highest quality.

Renewable Energy

Although rinnova is making biodiesel, our team members fully support the highly fuel efficient and cost effective bicycle. It runs on fully renewable energy sources.