What Is a Biodiesel Processor?

B. Turner

A biodiesel processor is a device used to transform animal and vegetable oils into biofuels. These devices help to refine the oil into biodiesel, which can be used to power a standard diesel engine. When mixed with regular diesel fuel, biodiesel can be an environmentally-friendly way to power cars, trucks, machinery, and farm equipment. It also represents a green alternative to traditional heating fuels, and can be used to power certain types of stoves and furnaces.

Biodiesel fuel can be used in traditional diesel vehicle.
Biodiesel fuel can be used in traditional diesel vehicle.

Each biodiesel processor features a surprisingly simple design. Depending on the application, this device may consist of a stainless steel or polypropylene tank with a conical bottom. Users start by filling the tank with a biodiesel feedstock. This feedstock may be virgin or waste vegetable oils, or even animal fats and some forms of algae. All feedstock should be filtered before it is placed into the biodiesel processor to ensure all water and waste have been removed.

Methanol can be used to make biodiesel.
Methanol can be used to make biodiesel.

Next, users add ethanol or methanol to the tank and close the lid to create an airtight seal. When a heat source is applied to this mixture, it undergoes a process known as transesterfication. During this process, the alcohol undergoes a chemical reaction with the feedstock, transforming it into usable biodiesel. When the process is complete, the fuel is separated out from the alcohol waste products, which may be reused in future batches.

A biodiesel processor can take many forms, depending on the capacity required by each application. Some users build their own small units to process fuel at home or on a farm. Models built in a factory can range from very small to very large, and many are fully automated to make the refinement process as simple as possible In settings where the biofuel must be of a very high quality, the biodiesel processor may incorporate ultrasonic or microwaves, which help to break down the molecules of the feedstock to further refine the oil.

These devices encourage users to replace traditional fossil fuels with biodiesel. By reducing demand for traditional diesel, a biodiesel processor helps to encourage recycling and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. These devices also are a method of cultivating local fuel sources, rather than depending on fossil fuels from other countries. A standard biodiesel processor is also very easy to use, and consists of a largely automated process that requires little skill or experience from the user.

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