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Making Biodiesel Fuel

Updated on March 1, 2009

Intro Into Biodiesel Fuel

Obviously by now everyone realizes the importance of reducing that carbon emissions that are contributing to global climate change. Regardless if you feel the this is part of a naturally occuring, cyclinical global warming event or completely man made, nobody can discount that carbon emissions have at least contributed to the warming the entire world has been experiencing. One of the leading causes of global climate change has to be the emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel, so we must have a cleaner source of fuel for our vehicles.

Enter biodeisel. A clean burning, renewable energy source that with widespread use will not only help reduce our country's dependance on foreign oil but will also help save money and be easier on our environment. There are many advantages to using biodiesel, however the purpose of this Lens isn't to discuss those - rather show you how to make biodiesel at home.

Also note that this is just an overview of how to make biodiesel. A complete in-depth how-to is beyond the scope of this lens, although there are some great books for doing so. The goal here is to show that it's not rocket science and that it's possible for anyone mechanically inclined to make biodiesel fuel for their own use in their garage or backyard.

Making Biodiesel At Home

The process of making biodiesel essentially comes down to separating the vegetable oil, or the fat if it's produced from an animal, from the glycerin. This process is known as transesterification.

When we're done, there will be two materials, glycerin and bio diesel - also known with its chemical name as methyl ester.

Ingredients Needed For Biodiesel Production

The process of making homemade biodiesel isn't very complicated, but there are several steps. For the transesterification process there are three required ingredients, vegetable oil or animal fat, methanol (i.e. alcohol) and lye or soda caustic. In the bio-diesel production, the glycerin will be excluded from vegetable oil or the animal fat by a chemical reaction. In order to create this chemical reaction we use methanol and a catalyst such as lye. The ratio between these three ingredients is:

  1. 75% vegetable oil or animal fat
  2. 22% methanol
  3. 3% lye or soda caustic

Production Of The Biodiesel Fuel

Before you begin mixing, be sure to protect your eyes and skin by wearing gloves and protecting glasses. Mix all three materials in one container and leave the rest for the chemical reaction for about 50 minutes. After the chemical reaction take place the products are separated according to their specific weight. The glycerin is the heaviest so it will settle on the bottom of the container. The biodiesel will be above the glycerin.

As you can see, we haven't didn't cover all the equipment in full details, but this is the overall process. Some biodiesel producers make it with different ingredients or that they mix the resulted biodiesel with paraffin or other type of petrolatum to make it thinner and more liquid, but basically this is the process. You can find more details at MakingBiodieselAtHome.Org, or by reading some of the books listed below.

By using or preparing biodiesel yourself, you'll be doing your part for a cleaner environment and being economically wise.

Making Biodiesel In Your Garage (Video) - A walkthrough of the steps for making biodiesel at home

How to make biodiesel in your garage. Drive your car for 65-75 cents/gallon. Update (June 2008): from the guy who made this video - "Methanol is $3.95 a gallon now, pushing my per gallon price to around $1 +/- .05 depending on yield and lye."

Good Books For Making Biodisel At Home

These are some GREAT books for learning how to setup your own biodiesel production at home. It's relatively inexpensive and can help you save a bunch of money.

What Do You Think? Advice?

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    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      I wondered how bio-diesel was made. Thanks for the overview.

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