Machine Design

Biodiesel fuel from fryer grease

Since the early 90s, scientists have been working on new fuels to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. They have used everything from farm waste to algae to power new engines.

Julie Kalista
Online Editor

In the same vein, at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, now uses kitchen oil from a neighboring college's dining hall for biofuel.

The oil is strained and pumped into an automated bioprocessor where chemicals, including methanol, sodium hydroxide, and sulfuric acid, are added to it. The mixture sits overnight and then a boat-like propeller churns the oil and a chemical reaction takes place, turning the vegetable oil into a power-producing biodiesel. The final step is to wash the biodiesel with water, removing any impurities that could interfere with it's ability to run in an engine. The fuel can be used in any diesel engine or used for home heating.

One common trait in most new biofuels is that they are readily available here in the U.S. The kitchen oil fuel is no exception. It reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 70% and it's byproduct, glycerol, is being used to make biodegradable plastics. Glycerol is also commonly used in soaps and make-up.

More Information:
Watch the video of the biodiesel process.

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