Tag Archives: biodiesel

The Biodiesel Program Gets An Upgrade

In November 2014, the Biodiesel program at The Island School began an upgrade to the biodiesel manufacturing equipment. The update, which was recently completed, drastically improved the speed at which fuel is produced and also improves the quality of the end product. The upgrade included the installation of a drywash tower, a methanol recovery unit, and reconfigured the entire facility with new plumbing, pumps, flow meters, and electrical controls.

biodiesel drywash tower
Biodiesel Lab Technician Samuel Dorsent got up close and personal with CSD’s biodiesel manufacturing equipment as it was cleaned in preparation of the upgrade. Sam has been working with the biodiesel program since May 2014.

The Drywash Tower replaces the previous method of cleaning processed fuel, which used water. The dry wash tower shortens the production time to process 150 gallons of biodiesel to two days, as opposed to 10-12 days as previously experienced. This has increased our production capacity to well over 30,000 gallons per year, nearly 4 times our previous capacity, and well above our current fuel demand. On a yearly basis, the drywash tower saves the school nearly 20,000 gallons of water, over 750 man-hours of labor costs, and drastically reduced production costs.

Corey Broderick and Mike Cortina (F'02) stand next to the new SpringPro T76 Drywash Tower.
Corey Broderick and Mike Cortina (F’02) stand next to the new SpringPro T76 Drywash Tower.

A secondary piece of new equipment installed is a Methanol Recovery unit. As the name would lend you to believe, the methanol recovery unit enables the recovery of excess methanol from the glycerol waste stream of the biodiesel reaction. The recovered methanol can be reused back into the production cycle and offset a portion of the methanol the program needs to purchase and import from the US. The methanol recovery unit has the potential to reduce the cost of biodiesel production by over $0.20 per gallon; and since methanol is the most expensive of the three chemical ingredients that make biodiesel, financial savings are felt on a very short time scale.

Sam performs a titration on a sample of oil prior to reacting a batch of biodiesel.
Sam performs a titration on a sample of oil prior to reacting a batch of biodiesel.

The biodiesel program at Island School began as a student run research project in the fall semester of 2002. Currently, the Organization uses biodiesel in vans, surfs, trucks and backup generators. We will soon begin testing biodiesel in boats, which has the potential to save the organization significantly in fuel expenditures. B100 (100% biodiesel) burns much cleaner and more completely than diesel fuel from other sources, such as fossil fuels. On average, a reduction of 60% in particulate matter, 60% in carbon monoxide, 70% in unburnt hydrocarbons, and 100% in sulfur dioxide can be expected. Moreover, the main chemical ingredient in biodiesel is used cooking oil; a perfect example of a renewable source of fuel.

If you have any further questions, or care to learn more about the biodiesel program at The Island School, please email biodiesel@islandschool.org.

Apprentice Profile: Serrano Gibson

Serrano Gibson of Wemyss Bight joins us at on campus as part of the  apprentice programme this summer, working under Marco. Below are some of his thoughts on working here:

As a summer employee at The Island School, I am working with an intelligent hard working young man name Marco. I’m helping him with making bio-diesel fuel out of used cooking oil, which is used in vehicles instead of diesel purchased at a service station. I am also cleaning the diesel tanks so that the new fuel can be clean and just right. The bio-diesel is inexpensive, reliable and eco friendly to our environment.

We are also on the road a vast amount of time making stops at different restaurants on the island picking up bottles of cooking oil that the restaurants no longer need to make the bio diesel and replacing the empty bottles with new ones to refill. It’s a long days work. We sometime end up in Harbor Island. This is a great experience for me.

Alumni Spotlight–Evan Lutvak S10!

After concentrating on the production of biodiesel for his final Human Ecology project last semester, Evan Lutvak returned home and continued working toward his goal: to run his own car off of biodiesel.  Recently, we received this update from Evan:

“I have made a large, ten liter batch using the small processor I made out of a 25 gallon rainwater collegting jug and a paint mixer. I put a nozzle on the bottom for easy draining, and it worked like a charm. I am now looking into ways to make the process even more efficient. The fuel is working very well in the car, and it reminds me of The Island School vans every morning when I smell the exhaust.”

Evan is a great example of The Island School’s vision of “Leadership effecting change.”  Way to go Evan!  We are so proud to have you as part of our alumni community!