Portable Biodiesel Unit
This biodiesel processor is mounted in the back of a 16 foot cargo trailer. The larger tank is the reaction tank (where biodiesel is made). The smaller tank holds the methanol and potassium hydroxide mix. Oil (we used canola oil in our project) is pumped into the large tank. One pump agitates the oil inside the tank. Another pumps the oil through a heater (yellow on sidewall). Once the oil is heated to 120 degrees F, a relay switch turns on a third pump and transfers the methanol and potassium hydroxide mix over into the reaction tank. The contents are agitated for 2.5 hours. During this time, a process called transesterification takes place. The methanol mix reacts with the oil and creates biodiesel and glycerin. After 2.5 hours is up, the system shuts down. Glycerin settles to the bottom of the tank (in the cone shaped area) and is pumped off, leaving pure biodiesel in the tank. It takes 24-48 hours for all of the glycerin to settle out.
Two additional tanks were mounted in the back of the trailer. The one on the right contains canola oil that is ready to be pumped into the reaction tank. The tank on the left contains biodiesel.