Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hot, hot, Nashville

Things are slow in the heat of the summer. The new centrifuge is being built, the oil collection trailer is being modified, and there's no batch in the works in the shed. This lull means it is a good week for research.

Vandy Biodiesel just welcomed Fido, a coffeeshop in Hillsboro Village, as a new oil source. (Thanks Gabby and Matt!) By choosing to let us recycle their waste veggie oil into biodiesel, they're helping create a fuel with significantly lower emissions for everything except maybe NOx, and no sulfur. And since we pickup from area restaurants the WVO doesn't travel nearly as far as when it's picked up by anyone else.

Coming soon: a list of area restaurants/businesses that let us pickup their waste veggie oil. Just in case you want to patronize places that are making some change.

Technical centrifuge related details, for those interested: We had two pressure driven oil centrifuges which worked well through the winter. The summer heat again came into the equation, making the biodiesel so thin that the centrifuges didn't have enough pressure to spin properly. We're in the process of homebuilding a larger mechanical centrifuge.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

VBI at Summer Soulstice Jam

Vanderbilt Biodiesel folks will be heading down to Limelight at 9pm this Friday (June 22nd) for the Summer Soulstice Jam. Greener Nashville invited us to bring out the van and a banner and maybe some soap and tell people about the project.

And we'd like to invite you to join us, if you're in the mood for some music and free Friday night. We can even offer you a ride downtown from campus.

Updates first half of 2008

Hello all! Much has happened since our last update!

Biodiesel production to date is nearly 1000 gallons. Most of this was used by the Wilderness Skills Course and Plant Operations here at Vanderbilt. We've been collecting the waste vegetable oil from our campus cafeterias and area restaurants. This means we've kept about 1000 gallons of waste product from having to be picked up and trucked to some far away location to be turned into things like animal feed supplements and lotions. (Not to mention cutting emissions in the vehicles that used the fuel!)

There's a lot going on here this summer - a lot of changes in the shed to improve the system. A custom built centrifuge is in the works, the homemade condenser was moved closer to improve methanol reclamation, some new hoses, some new plumbing, etc. Another project involves revamping the oil collection trailer to switch from 4 blue 55-gallon barrels to a 250 gallon tote - moving towards simplicity.

assorted golden liquids

Research on a dilute-acid esterification pre-step for poor quality oil is underway. Derek tested it recently with almost milky bad oil and got a good yield. Eliot is working on an acid purification of the glycerin byproduct. Amelia is spending the summer working on a life cycle analysis/environmental impact assessment type report for the project. And many others continue to do great work.

If you're interested and you'd like to get involved, join the biodiesel list serve or email us. There are almost limitless possibilities as far as what you can do - oil collection, soap, marketing, etc. (Follow that link to the get involved page to see more.)