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  Category: Articles » Society & News » Environment » Article

Biodiesel Fuel- What's It All About?

By Howard Gibson

Biodiesel fuel is already used as a commercial fuel in Europe.
Or in parts of Europe a blend of biodiesel of up to 5% is used as
part of regular diesel fuel. That's sort of like the use of
10% ethanol in regular gasoline you see in much of the
United States today.

The most important chemicals you need for biodiesel processing are
lye (like your Red Devil lye you used to have under the sink),
and Methanol (wood alcohol, also used sometimes as dry gas to
keep fuel pipes from freezing in cars). Ironically, in the name of
saving the environment, you will have to deal with two relatively
poisonous chemicals. That's life. So don't be dumb enough to
drink them or inhale them without adequate ventilation.
Also touching them, especially lye, is strongly not recommended.
I think touching methanol isn't that bad. You have to learn
the chemical process of using these chemicals to alter pure
vegetable oil into biodiesel fuel, and then you need to buy and
set up a "processor unit", so you can do this on a grand scale.
If the average American drives 1200 miles a month, at 20 miles
a gallon, that's 60 gallons a month of diesel fuel. That's
realistic if you are driving a diesel Volkswagen Jetta or
something of that sort. If you process this once a month,
think of where you can store 60 gallon jugs of biodiesel
fuel in your garage or basement.

Making your own biodiesel is a real challenge. It's better to
make a small batch, so you get a feeling for the process and the
chemistry, and then start your little "home-grown" industrial
process. That's what you will be doing if you produce 60 gallons
a month for your sweet little Jetta, or other diesel-fueled
Assemble a blender, with a glass container. The methanol in
your mix will destroy a plastic container. Don't try to use this
container for food uses again. Get a gram scale, maybe you know
some one who has given up recreational drugs. They will have it at
their next yard sale. A 200-milliter beaker. A wide-mouth glass
or plastic container. A steel spoon. Don't forget the rubber
gloves and eye goggles. Lye and Methanol are poisons. Lye, or
pure Red Devil type drain cleaner is a known base (anti-acid)
that is recognized as dangerous, but methanol can damage your
eyes and other nerves, so we are not playing! You want a room with a
sink with water in case any one gets poisoned, and good ventilation.
Also temperature should be 70-F or above.
About the Author
Howard Gibson writes articles for and other websites about environmental and legal issues.

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