The biodiesel concept was designed to reuse the waste
vegetable oil from dining facilities on the RIT campus to
create a biofuel which could then be used in RIT facilities
vehicles. The design process which can be referenced below
encapsulated the design of the processor, process flow and
Core Team Members
- Christopher Chaput
- Jeff Hoover
- Scott Rishell
- Robert Snow
By creating biodiesel from the waste oil several cost
benefits would be immediately acheived. RIT currently pays
a disposal company to get rid of current waste oil from
campus dining areas, this surcharge would be eliminated if
the biodiesel project is instituted. Secondly, a portion of
RIT's facilities fuel would be offset by biodiesel, this
would reduce the yearly cost of fuel for RIT's diesel
- Analysis of the current RIT diesel fleet by
determining the amount of diesel fuel used
- Emissions reduction by switch to biodiesel
- Current output calculation of waste oil generated
from dining areas on the RIT campus and its seasonal
- Feasibility study
- Financial incentives
- Cost savings
- Current contract with disposal company can be
terminated without incurring excessive costs for RIT
- A central repository where the processing station can
be house is available.
- Support of dining facilities and FMS in storage and
transport of the oil.
- Amount of fryer oil available for processing
- Amount of fuel needed by diesel vehicles on campus
- Safety concerns
Issues and Risks
- Existing contracts for disposal of oil wastes on
- Cold-weather issues that exist with biodiesel
- Solidification/fuel gelling occurring at lower
- Insufficient amount of waste oil to fulfill needs of
- Inconsistency in the amount of oil on a
- Unwillingness of facilities to convert vehicles
- Unwillingness of RIT to take on the space/cost of
creating a processing station for waste oils.
A research paper written by Jeffery Hoover which
details the technological issues and the benefits to
using and implementaion of biodiesel.
A Microsoft Excel file which details the benchmarking
process which was involved in the development and
design of a biodiesel processor for the application.
The design encompassed many of the ideas from several
commercially available solutions.
A presentation which details the pros/cons of
biodiesel as well as a brief history, issues, costs
and a comparison to regular diesel fuel.
A brief cost analysis of the biodiesel process and
the number of batches which would need to be produced
to provide a net cost benefit.
Processor selection matrix which helped to determine
which type of commercially available processors would
be the best processor for our application.
Powerpoint presentation which has a detailed scope of
the overall process. Included are: a process flow
map, process selection matrix, rough financial
analysis, a system drawing and concept selection
A benchmark of similar processors to our design and
their associated costs.
Document which details emissions savings, weekly
breakdown of project goals through SDII.
"Without water" - transesterification of Biodiesel must
be an anhydrous process or funny things happen. Water
in the vegetable oil causes either no reaction or
cloudy Biodiesel, and water in lye or methanol renders
it less useful or even useless, depending on how much
water is present. Either let your vegetable oil settle
for 2-3 days before using and drain the water off the
bottom, or heat the oil and boil off the water. Store
lye and methanol in separate, air-tight containers.
B5, B10, B20, etc
This is the universally accepted method for indicating
a blend of biodiesel and petrodiesel. The number in
front of the B is the ratio of biodiesel, thus B5 is 5%
biodiesel, 95% petrodiesel. B20 is 20% biodiesiel and
80% petrodiesel, etc.
Any fuel oil that is made from vegetable or animal fats
using the process of transesterification. It is
considered a fully renewable fuel, and usually a green
fuel because the carbon dioxide it creates is absorbed
back by the plants that make the biodiesel, so the net
carbon dioxide that is left in the environment
(theoretically) is zero. It is considered non-toxic
(less toxic than table salt) and non-flammable, as the
flash point is typically around 300 degrees F, making
is much safer to store and handle than regular diesel
or kerosene. Many gas stations are now offering blends
of biodiesel and petrodiesel, or even pure biodiesel in
A method of final washing of Biodiesel through air
agitation. Biodiesel floats above a quantity of water.
Bubbles from an aquarium air pump and air stone can be
sued to injected air into the water causing the bubbles
to rise. At the water/Biodiesel interface, the air
bubbles carry water up through the Biodiesel by surface
tension. Simple diffusion causes water soluble
impurities in the Biodiesel to be extracted into the
water. As the bubble reaches the surface and breaks,
the water is freed and percolates back down through the
Measure of fuel ignition characteristics. Like the
octane number used for gasoline, the higher the value,
the better the fuel performance. A higher cetane number
correlates with improved combustion, improved cold
starting, reduced noise, white smoke, HC, CO and
particulate emissions particularly during early warm-up
phase. The EPA uses this parameter as a measure of
aromatic content in fuel. Typical Cetane numbers around
the world are as follows: Europe: 43 - 57, average 50
U.S. lower, minimum 40, average 43.
The temperature at which the first wax crystals appear
and a standardized ASTM test protocol is used to
determine this temperature.
A stable system of small particles dispersed in
something else. A multi-phase system in which one
dimension of a dispersed phase is of colloidal size.
Colloids are the liquid and solid forms of aerosols,
foams, emulsions, and suspensions within the colloidal
size class. Milk and smoke are both colloids. Colloidal
size is typically .001 micron to 1 micron in any
dimension. Dispersions where the particle size is in
this range are referred to as colloidal aerosols,
colloidal emulsions, colloidal foams, or colloidal
A stable or unstable system of fine particles, larger
than colloidal size, evenly distributed in a medium.
A suspension of small drops of 1 liquid in a 2nd with
which the 1st will not mix. Emulsions can be formed
either by mechanical agitation, or by chemical
processes. Unstable emulsions will separate with time
or temperature. Stable emulsions will not separate.
Any of a large group of organic compounds formed when
an acid and alcohol is mixed. CH3COOCH3 (Methyl
acetate) is the simplest ester. BioDiesel contains
Ethyl Alcohol (aka: corn liquor or grain alcohol)
Ethyl alcohol is the alcohol in adult beverages. It is
mildly toxic. It is sometimes mixed with methyl alcohol
for the purpose of making in poisonous (thus
undrinkable) for certain applications, in a denaturant.
It can be used to create biodiesel, although it
requires more alcohol and is more expensive. The
advantages of using ethyl alcohol include the ability
to make your own (assuming owning a small still is
legal in your area) and the much lower toxicity of the
This is the temperature that a given fuel oil
(petrodiesel, biodiesel, kerosene) will begin to gel,
thus making it harder for the fuel to flow and be
useful. One of the problems with biodiesel is the
higher gel point, but this varies according to the oil
used to create the fuel. This is one reason it is
blended in colder environments, to insure it will flow
at reasonable temperatures.
The major byproduct of BioDiesel production.
CH2-OH--CH-OH--CH2-OH - Each of the "OH" sites is one
of the three places where an ester is broken off of the
triglyeride molecule (veg. oil).
Potassium Hydroxide, which is used to make Biodiesel
from ethanol, a metalic base (acid)
vailable commercially as Red Devil Lye and others, it
is a caustic solution. There are two basic kinds,
sodium hydroxide (soda lye) and potassium hydroxide
(less common potash lye). They have a tremendous number
of commercial uses, from farming to food preparation.
Hominy is simply corn that is soaked in lye, for
Lye is used as one of the catalysts (along with
alcohol) for turning oil into biodiesel, although you
must use the dry, undiluted mixes for this purpose.
Methyl Alcohol (aka: wood alcohol or methanol)
This is the simplest alcohol and is used for a
antifreeze (particularly in windshield wiper fluids),
solvent, fuel and the catalyst to create biodiesel. It
is commonly used in pure form as a race car fuel, and
is sometimes blended with gasoline to oxygenate the
fuel and reduce pollution (although ethyl alcohol is
more commonly used for this purpose due to the lower
It is extremely poisonous and can not be made safe by
dilution. If ingested in relatively small quantities,
it causes blindness, liver failure and other issues,
including death. When burned it produces carbon dioxide
and water. The flames from a methanol fire are
invisible, which causes problems for race car drivers
involved in wrecks, however, it can be extinguished
with simple water.
Sodium Methoxide - Sodium Methylate - (CH3-O+ Na-). An
organic salt, in pure form a white powder. In biodiesel
production, "methoxide" is a product of mixing methanol
and sodium hydroxide, yielding a solution of sodium
methoxide in methanol, and a significant amount of
heat. Sodium Methoxide in methanol is a liquid that
kills nerve cells before you can feel the pain. If you
ever come into contact with it, rinse with water and
seek medical attention immediately, it is also highly
explosive and making the sodium methoxide mix is the
most dangerous step when making Biodiesel.
A measure of acidity and alkalinity of a solution on a
scale with 7 representing neutrality. Lower numbers
indicate increasing acidity, and higher numbers
increasing alkalinity. Each unit of change represents a
tenfold change in acidity or alkalinity. pH is
mathematically found by taking the negative logarithm
of the effective hydrogen-ion concentration or
hydrogen-ion activity. The units are gram equivalents
per liter of the solution. The optimal pH for BioDiesel
is 7 or neutral as distilled water and most tap water.
Straight Vegetable Oil. Some vehicles can be modified
to run this as primary fuel, although most still use
petro or biodiesel to start the vehicle, then switch
over to the SVO tank for normal operation.
The reaction of an ester with a metallic base and
water, i.e. the making of soap.
Applied to BioDiesel, titration is the act of
determining the acidity of a sample of WVO by the
dropwise addition of a known base to the sample while
testing with pH paper for the desired neutral pH=7
reading. The amount of base needed to neutralize an
amount of WVO determines how much base to add to the
Certain chemicals, when mixed, will create two
different chemicals. With the right chemicals, the
process is called transesterification, such as mixing
oil, lye and methanol to make biodiesel and glycerol.
An example is when your grandmother used to make lye
soap by boiling down lard (cow fat) with lye (from
certain wood and ash) and alcohol from the still (ethyl
alcohol, which works but not as well as methyl). The
result was lye soap (glycerol with some lye left over)
and lamp oil (biodiesel). She was simply doing the low
tech version of what is still done today to make
biodiesel. Of course, many people now make biodiesel in
their own homes using better technology, but it is
still a simple process.
Is a measure of how a liquid is resistant to flow;
"thickness" or "thinness". Methanol has a low
viscosity, while vegetable oil has a high viscosity.
Waste Vegetable Oil. Basically the same as SVO except
it has been used, typically in restaurants to cool
foods such as french fries, fish, chicken or other
frozen or fresh foods. Typically it must be filtered
and/or washed before using. It is readily converted
into biodiesel through transesterification via methanol
and lye, or can be used (after filtering) in a SVO