Production of Biodiesel from Waste Vegetable Oil
Ashley Allen, Farrah Steeley, Dr. Jason Ganley, Dr. Ramesh Chawla
Howard University, Department of Chemical Engineering Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A
A stable and reliable energy supply is essential for sustainable economic growth. In recent years, the sharp increase in energy prices has highlighted the need for alternative energy source to alleviate the dependence on fossil fuels as the main energy source for the transportation sector. Biodiesel has received a great deal of attention worldwide because it is a renewable fuel and of its environmental benefits in reducing pollutants emission from diesel engines.
Biodiesel is comprised of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) that can be acquired from vegetable oil by transesterification with alcohol such as methanol in the presence of an alkaline catalyst. One of the advantages of the biodiesel utilization is that the feedstock can come from a variety of sources. Waste vegetable oil is an attractive option as a biodiesel feedstock. However, the main concerns when using waste vegetable oil are the presence of food solids and other undesirable chemicals in the mixture
This study focuses on the design, operation, and analysis of a cost effective filtration process that utilizes chemical and material engineering principles that incorporates sedimentation synthetic fiber, and aluminum wire mesh to eliminate undesirable particulates, which reduce the yield of biodiesel production. Waste vegetable oil was collected from personal use and local restaurants in the DC area. Samples of 100mL were then allocated and their physical properties were statistically analyzed before and after the filtration process. The produced biodiesel had a viscosity of 165 centistokes, a pH reading of 10.4, a 17 brix percentage refractive index, and a temperature of 20ºC. These results as well as future observations will be presented.