What is Biodiesel
The scientific name for biodiesel is fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and the term is well known among the researchers. What inside biodiesel is not the same as that of diesel from petroleum. Diesel mostly contains paraffin, naphthenes, alkylbenzenes, and some aromatic compounds. Even though they are different, it works for a normal engine.
You might notice biodiesel at some gas pump station. But most of them are not 100% biodiesel. They usually mixed at up to 20% with normal diesel. The reason is that our engine is not made to use biodiesel, so 20% should be sufficient. Unless your engine was designed to use biodiesel.
The car using biodiesel is more sustainable than diesel. As a matter of fact, the carbon dioxide released from the combustion of biodiesel is then consumed by the plant to produce the oil. It is a fair of business with the environment. The forest consumed carbon dioxide, so does oil-based plants.
To make biodiesel at home you can use waste cooking oil. Because you cannot reuse cooking oil forever, it bad for your health. So why not we use it to make biodiesel instead of polluting our drainage.
There are three main ingredients required to make biodiesel. It could be originated from soybean, sunflower, corn, olive, palm, coconut, or other plant-based oils. You could use animal fat as well. Then you need alcohol or precisely methanol. Don’t use alcoholic beverages as it contains other stuff and could contaminate the overall process. Lastly, you need sodium hydroxide as the catalyst.
Mix oil and methanol at 1 to 4 of the weight ratio, then add sodium hydroxide at 5% of the total weight of the mixture. Stir the solution to become homogeneous. Give them some heat by heating and you are now starting producing biodiesel. Basically, it is just a transesterification reaction if you know chemistry.
Safety & Precautions
Use low temperature is better since methanol evaporates easily. To minimize the vaporization of methanol use tightly closed containers. If you have the proper setup, install a reflux condenser to return condensed methanol back to the reaction solution.
For safety reason don’t forget to use personnel protective equipment. Make sure you do this with the supervision of your teachers or adults if you are kids.
If you want to make your own biodiesel at home, check out this video.
If you want to learn more about biodiesel, check the link bellow;