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Publication Title | Biodiesel Processor System Manual

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Search Completed | Title | Biodiesel Processor System Manual
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Page Number: 002
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Text | Biodiesel Processor System Manual | 002



BIODIESEL CHEMISTRY
Biodiesel use should not be confused with the combustion of straight vegetable oil, or SVO. SVO may be used directly into a diesel engine. However, the fuel supply system must be modified by the addition of a second fuel tank, heating systems, and fuel switching to accommodate SVO (see Appendix B).
In the case of biodiesel, the engine and fuel systems are not modified, but we instead modify the fuel so that it can be used in any stock diesel engine. A typical vegetable oil consists of a triglyceride molecule as shown below.
There are many types of fatty acid chains, and the makeup of these will determine both the properties of the vegetable oil AND the final biodiesel product. Being a “tri”- glyceride, there are three fatty acid chains bound to one alcohol molecule, a molecule of glycerin (or glycerol). To produce biodiesel, the glycerol is split away with the aid of a catalyst, and the remaining free-floating fatty acid chains are then capped off with a lower level alcohol molecule such as methanol or ethanol. Methanol is presently the lowest cost option, as well as a bit easier to use. However, methanol is currently produced from natural gas, while ethanol is typically produced from corn, or other renewable feedstocks making it a more attractive feedstock from a renewable or sustainable perspective..
FA
FA
FA
Vegetable Oil
Fatty Acid Alcohol Glycerin
FA
Biodiesel
Alcohol
Glycerol
In its most simple form, the transesterification process, shown above, is merely a heated mixing process, where warm veggie oil is mixed in the presence of a catalyst. The glycerol molecule is striped away, and replaced with three individual methanol molecules to make there biodiesel molecules. This is called transesterification since the
Biodiesel Processor System: Operation, Safety & Training 2

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biodiesel-processor-system-manual-002
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