How is biodiesel made?
Although the word itself may seem difficult to pronounce, the method is relatively easy.
By mixing methanol (wood alcohol) with lye (sodium hydroxide) one can make sodium methoxide.
This liquid is then mixed into vegetable oil. After this mixture sits for a while, glycerin is
left on the bottom and methyl esters, or biodiesel, is left on top. The glycerin can be used
to make soap, or other products, and the methyl esters is washed, filtered, and then can be poured
into the gas tank of a vehicle. It is very important to mention that the vehicle MUST have a
diesel engine. Biodiesel CANNOT be used in a vehicle that does not have a diesel engine.
Check out these students making biodiesel in high school
About half of the biodiesel produced in the biodiesel industry comes from fat or oil feedstock,
which includes recycled cooking grease. The other half of the industry uses vegetable oils,
the least expensive of which is soy oil. Soy oil is an excellent resource for biodiesel because
of its excess production capacity, product surpluses, and its low price. Even lower in price are
recycled grease and animal fats that can be obtained from restaurants, fast food places, and
cafeterias. On the VeggieVan.org website, there is a picture of someone getting left over veggie
oil from the back of the New College cafeteria, where BioDiesel Betty goes to school.
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