Soaring fuel prices have got many of us interested in making biodiesel at home. And as they keep going up (which they will thanks to peak oil ) you’ll be glad that you learnt how to make biodiesel in your own backyard!
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What is Bio Diesel?
How Biodiesel Works
The fats in vegetable oils and animal fats are many times more viscous (thick and gummy) at room temperature than petroleum diesel. So they have to be reacted with methanol (or some other suitable alcohol) to make them runnier.
This process creates biodiesel which is chemically a fatty acid methyl ester.
Biodiesel can be used in any normal diesel engine. However, in cold climates biodiesal might go solid, so either a blend is used, or a second tank is fitted that warms the biodiesel prior to use.
Pros of Biodiesel
The pros of biodiesel are that it is an easily made renewable fuel (i.e. from crops that can be grown time and again).
While some of the ingredients used in the typical biodiesel recipe are toxic and produce toxic biodiesel byproducts, biodiesel itself is non-toxic.
It also burns cleaner than petroleum diesel so creates less pollution and is more greenhouse friendly. Diesel engine performance is also reportedly improved in vehicles run on biodiesal.
However, there are biodiesel problems too.
The cons of biodiesel production surging around the world are upward pressure on global food prices and deforestation as land is switched from food production or forest habitat to make way for biodiesal crops.
Largely because of these concerns there is growing interest in producing algal biodiesel , which takes more complex processing but a lot less land and resources to produce.
For these reasons the future of biodiesel could depend on using algae as the main biodiesel fuel source.
Making Biodiesel At Home
DIY Cost of Biodiesel
It is possible to make biodiesel for about seventy cents a gallon (15c a liter), which is a substantial savings when you think about what petroleum diesel costs! However, this is based on being able to source waste vegetable oils for free.
However, with the growing interest in biodiesel it is probably more realistic to expect to pay for this resource.
Current prices for sourcing used oils suitable for biodiesel production are reportedly around 25c a litre. Even so, you will still make serious savings by making your own biodiesel over filling up at your gas station.
Making Biodiesel at Home
Pity he isn’t using safety gear, which is definitely recommended!
Before making biodiesel at home, make sure you know what you’re doing, prepare properly, take sensible safety measures and have good ventilation.
The typical recipe for biodiesel uses easily sourced ingredients. All you need is a biodiesel still or processor.
Home biodiesel kits come in a range to suit your needs and you have the choice of off-the-shelf biodiesel fuel kits or a DIY bio diesel generator.
Biodiesel Groups to Support Making Biodiesel at Home
With the growing interest in making biodiesel at home, there are now a lot of
biodiesel groups and forums
where you can have your biodiesel questions and problems answered by people who have been there and done that!