Portable Biodiesel Production System

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Develop a mixing and controlling module for a portable biodiesel production system. Build a working portable biodiesel production system.

Portable Biodiesel
Lead Instructor Dr. Daniel Cordon
Sponsor Dr. Wu
Mentor Chad Dunkel
Team Name Portable Biodiesel
Duration Fall 2017 - Spring 2018

Problem Definition[edit]


Biodiesel, a renewable transportation fuel and substitute for petroleum diesel, has been attracting increasing interest from both the environmental groups and the transportation industry because it can significantly mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and wean our dependency on fossil fuels. However, the major roadblock for biodiesel to become a mainstream diesel fule lies in its high costs and low efficiency in production resulting from a chemical reaction called transesterification, which requires raising temperature to above 60°C and takes hours to convert the vegetable oil to biodiesel using base catalyst.

Project Learning[edit]

What is biodiesel?[edit]

Biodiesel is the product of an oil, alcohol and catalyst reaction. It is commonly referred to as methyl esters or FAME (fatty acid methyl esters). This product is useful because it is a relatively low cost and environmentally friendly fuel that produces efficient energy in machines.


Figure 1 (Reaction process)

How does biodiesel work?[edit]

Biodiesel burns similar to that of any other fuel where it needs to be in presence of oxygen. In the pure liquid form, biodiesel would be too tightly packed to combust. In an engine, the use of fuel injectors and extreme amounts of compression ignite the mixture in a chamber to produce useful mechanical energy.

How is biodiesel produced?[edit]

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oil, animal fats or left over frying oil along with an alcohol and catalyst in a process called transesterification (figure 2). In order for the biodiesel molecules to form, their needs to be some sort of alcohol, usually ethanol, and a catalyst (potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide) which gets mixed together before going through a reaction process that produces methyl esters and crude glycerol. These methyl esters are what we call biodiesel.


Figure 2 (Biodiesel process)


Hardware Design Overview[edit]


Solidworks Final Design[edit]


High Voltage Transformer[edit]


Each transformer is rated at 3 kV. They are rated to provide 30 mA on the output. However, to power the plasma reactor we need 3000 V and 100 mA. That's why we are using 4 transformers in parallel.

Control system & Transformer Schematic[edit]


Design Goals deliverables:[edit]

  • Supply 3KV to plasma reactor.
  • Portable by one person.
  • Real black Box.
  • More than 120 gallons /24 hr.
  • Small as possible, light as possible.
  • Filter again before pumps.
  • High shear mixer.
  • Ground for High volt transformer.
  • Programmed control of plasma reactor with optical sensor for on-off.
  • Mixed and sending both reactants through the plasma reactor before the reactor is turned on.
  • Teflon hoses.
  • 5:1 molar methanol to oil ratio.
  • 0.8% of weight to oil for NaOH.

Archive Documents[edit]

Fall 2017- Spring 2018

Team Information[edit]

Team pic12.jpg

From Left : Khalid, Tyler, Kevin , Abdullah.

Member Biography Discipline
Abdullah Aldoussari My name is Abdullah Aldoussari I'm a senior in electrical engineering. I started my degree in the Fall 2014 and I emphasis in power. Also, I enjoy playing soccer and watching TV in my free time. Electrical Engineering
Kevin Miklos Hi, my name is Kevin Miklos and I’m a Mechanical engineering major with a minor in physics from the University of Idaho. I was born and raised in Boise, until I moved to Moscow to attend U of I. A few extras about me are that I love flying. I received my private pilot’s license in the summer before my junior year. I enjoy travelling having been to seven different countries outside of the United States, and in my free time I have taken up the hobby of making wine, brandy and mead.. Mechanical Engineering

Khalid Aldossari Khalid Aldossari is a senior in electrical engineering.He is a bilingual in Arabic and English. He likes to do many things in his free time such as meeting new people, learning something new from different culture, and playing sports ,like soccer. Electrical Engineering
Tyler Smisek I am senior Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Idaho. I have a passion for modeling systems, designing products and concepts for actual use in the real world. My goal as an engineer is to work for NASA and design or test aircraft systems.

I spend most of my time outdoors and traveling when I'm not busy with school and other projects. .

Mechanical Engineering