Biodiesel production

Report
Powering the Future: Biofuels
Activity: Biodiesel production
• Describe the techniques used to produce biodiesel
• Carry out the conversion of vegetable oil to biodiesel
• Discuss the efficiency of biodiesel production and the uses of
the by-products
Facts and Figures
• To help combat climate change the UK has a target to reduce carbon
emissions by 80% by 2050.
• 30% of the UK renewable energy could come from biomass heat and
electricity by 2020.
• To meet the European Renewable Energy Directive, the UK is aiming for
10% of transport energy to be from renewable sources by 2020.
• 18% of the sustainable renewable road transport fuel used in the UK
between April 2012 and April 2013 came from UK feedstocks.
© John Innes Centre
Oilseed rape is currently grown for use as a food crop as well as production of
biofuels. In 2009 the UK biofuel produced from oilseed rape was13% of total
biofuel feedstocks. Estimates suggest that it would require 40% of the UK
arable land to produce 5% of the UK transport fuel from oilseed rape. It is
therefore vital that research finds alternatives to current biofuels.
© John Innes centre
Oilseed rape exploding pods: Controlling pod shattering could lead to greatly
increased yields of oilseed rape.
© Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Algae light microscope image: In order to develop biofuels from algae, research is
being conducted to find suitable strains that produce high levels of oils, can tolerate
heat and high concentrations of carbon dioxide, and are easy to harvest.
Bubble Columns: Microalgae can be
grown in large bioreactors and
continually harvested unlike crops or
macroalgae. They could be grown using
the waste carbon dioxide from industrial
processes, power stations or waste
treatment plants. The oil they produce
can then be converted into liquid fuel.
© Plymouth Marine Laboratory
© Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Scanning Electron Microscope image of algae: Algae can harvest the power of
the sun through photosynthesis and convert this into biomass including oil. They
are fast growing and more efficient than plants at absorbing carbon dioxide.
© Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Fluorescent staining of oil in algae: In order to develop algal biofuels research is
being conducted to find suitable strains that produce high levels of oils, can
tolerate heat and high concentrations of carbon dioxide, and are easy to harvest.
Method
1. Add 10 ml or 10 g of vegetable oil to a test tube or 15 ml
centrifuge tube.
2. Add the contents of the tube containing the methanol/potassium
hydroxide catalyst to the tube containing the vegetable oil and
ensure the tube is properly sealed.
3. Carefully and slowly invert the tubes over 30 times to ensure
adequate mixing for the conversion reaction.
4. Carefully observe the contents of the test tube.
The biodiesel separates out in the top layer while a lower layer of
glycerol gradually forms.
5. Label the tubes with the contents and your names.
Activity: Biodiesel production
• Describe the techniques used to produce biodiesel
• Carry out the conversion of vegetable oil to biodiesel
• Discuss the efficiency of biodiesel production and the uses of
the by-products
Contributors

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