Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Progress in the Lab

After two days of hard work, we have successfully connected the WVO drums to the processor with a filter in between. The first pump has also begun to be connected to the piping. This is very significant progress! From the photos, you can see that there is still work to do connecting piping to the processor, and then moving the biodiesel over to the settling tank. Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Section of Piping Complete!

Today was one of our most successful days of work in the Biodiesel Lab. Dan, Dave and their team of 3 or 4 others that came to help successfully designed and connected the piping for the first part of the biodiesel process. We were able to successfully run water through the WVO storage drums to what will eventually connect to the processor, and we were able to successfully drain it. While this may seem like a small step, it was great progress for us! Of course, we have a lot more to get done, so if you are interested in helping, let us know.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Work Begins on Processor

Most of the parts are in, and Dave and Dan have begun to really start working on the processor. Much of the piping has been arranged, and from this point forward we will be in the Biodiesel Lab almost every day putting together a little more of the processor. Are you interested in helping build? Contact Dave at david.borrelli@rochester.edu or Dan Fink at daniel.fink@rochester.edu. To the left is a picture of some piping being arranged for placement on the WVO storage drums. ... Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

First WVO Pickup from the Pit

Well we knew that WVO was nasty, but we didn't quite realize how nasty until we ladled it from one container to another. We picked up about another 6 or 7 gallons from the Pit yesterday and added it to our collection. The picture to the left is of all the WVO that we have collected so far, including waste turkey fryer oil from somebody's house. The picture on the right is Eris attempting to get the pump to work, before we realized that we would have ladle the WVO one scoop at a time. For more pictures, make sure to visit our Picasa album...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UR Biodiesel Kickoff

We have just about finalized the date of the UR Biodiesel kickoff. It will be Wednesday, April 22nd, at 1pm. So save the date! (Note that it is also Earth Day). We hope that the event will be help partially outdoors between Gavett, Wallis and Hutch, and partially indoors in the Goergen Hall Atrium...

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New UR Biodiesel Logo!

Thanks to Emma Vann from the Undergraduate Art and Art History Council for designing this logo for us! It will be used in a number of ways, and we are very excited to have it. Emma is also coordinating the bus design competition, so if you are interested, make sure to submit a design! (See the below post for more information). Thanks again Emma!...
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Biodiesel Bus Design Competition

The UR Biodiesel team is working with the Art and Art History Undergraduate Council to design the Biodiesel-Bus. The bus is 38 feet long and 7.5 feet tall. Are you interested in submitting a design?... See the below template of the bus so you know what it looks like, and submit your design to Morey 424 by February 25th. If you have any questions, please email evann@u.rochester.edu or eric.weissmann@rochester.edu. The winning artist will work with University Publications to finalize it and then paint the bus. To download the Adobe Illustrator file that has a template that you can use, visit the Resources page of the UR Biodiesel website (the file should be there to download soon). Good luck!

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Sustainability Beyond Biodiesel

One goal of the UR Biodiesel project is to be sustainable throughout the entire process. This means everything from using Cogen to heat the UR Biodiesel facility to using recycled plumbing so that we don't need to buy new. Not only is this sustainable, but it saves money. Here is a mostly complete list of everything we are doing sustainably (other than the whole using waste vegetable oil to power a campus bus, of course).

1. Cogen/Radiant Heating: The UR Biodiesel facility is heated by a hot water radiant flooring system using the University's Cogeneration plant. This truly "closes the sustainable loop" and uses an existing heat source. We hope to eventually use this same Cogen hot water to preheat the waste vegetable oil before it enters the processor, but this is a little farther off....

2. Sink: The sink in the facility was removed from another campus site (NSRL/UFC) when lab space was converted into offices.

3. Waste Vegetable Oil/Processor stand: The stand that the waste vegetable oil storage drums sit on, which is the same stand that the processor will sit on, is a combination of materials from three buildings on campus, including NSRL/UFC, 612 Wilson Blvd., and the Frederick Douglass Building. The parts used to put it together were mostly surplus from various projects.

4. Shelving Unit: The shelving units, on top of which are the settling tank, wash tank and dry tank, was purchased from a surplus supply warehouse at a fraction of the cost. The shelving is certainly not brand new, but it is sturdy, gets the job done, and eliminated the need for a brand new shelving unit.

5. Lab Bench: The lab bench in the facility, which is important for running tests and completing paperwork, was given to us by a Chemical Engineering lab in Gavett. It was in a lab that did not need it, and we were certainly willing to take it off their hands.

6. 55-Gallon Drums: We are using a number of 55-gallon drums to store, wash, dry and heat the waste vegetable oil and biodiesel. We have a steel 55-gallon drum that we plucked right out of the trash, and we are using two 55-gallon poly-drums that were given to us from the River Campus auto shop that were formerly used to store windshield washer fluid.

7. Piping: Much of the piping we are using in the facility, including the water pipes, Cogen pipes, and pipes that will be used to move the WVO around the facility, is salvaged material from various construction projects around campus.

8. Exit Sign: The Exit sign we are using over the door to the facility was leftover from a renovation job on campus.

9. Door Hardware: The hardware on the door to the facility itself, including the handle, the latch, etc., was recycled from another door which was replaced.

10. Heat Exchanger: The heat exchanger that is being used for the UR Biodiesel facility was abandoned after Cogeneration was installed in a campus building, so it no longer used steam and therefore had no more need for the heat exchanger.

11. Processor: The processor itself is the most important component of the entire biodiesel-making process, and arguably the most expensive. We are using an old water heater as our processor, as it was unused in a River Campus building.

12. Methanol: Methanol is one of the chemicals used in the processor, as it is mixed with the waste vegetable oil. We will be acquiring our methanol from the University Hazardous Waste office. That office takes waste chemicals such as methanol from around the University to safely dispose of them. What a better way to dispose of waste methanol than by using it to create biodiesel!
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Progress in the Facility

We are making progress in the UR Biodiesel Facility, with most of the hardware now installed. Our shelving units are now installed, the fire cabinet and lab bench have been moved into the facility and placed, and the racks for the WVO storage tanks and the processor itself are just about complete. Click below for more information and photos...

Remember, you can view all of the most up-to-date UR Biodiesel pictures by clicking here.

We are in the process of ordering the smaller components necessary to "connect the dots" if you will. This is everything from pumps (three have already arrived) to tubes, plumbing equipment, etc. We are trying to scrounge together as many unused parts from around the University as possible before ordering, both to save money and in the overall interest of sustainability.

Finally some more of our lab supplies were delivered last week, including funnels and latex gloves.
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First WVO Pickup This Week

One very exciting development is that we are just about scheduled to make our first WVO pickup this Friday afternoon. It won't be a "traditional" pickup, in that we will not be using our tanker (aka. Fat-Mobile) yet. However, we did want to get started in gathering WVO so that we can start running tests. Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

Monday, February 9, 2009

UR Biodiesel's New Blog!

After more than two years, UR Biodiesel finally has a website and a blog! We will use this blog to post updates, including video and photos, of the UR Biodiesel project. Check back as often as you'd like to get the most up to date information on the project! Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!