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.
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.)