Smart questions. I thought you’d never ask. 🙂
You’d be surprised to know that making Biodiesel is incredibly easy. Yes, it’s very easy. And anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a science geek, or have a PhD in Chemistry to produce a gallon or barrel of ready-to-use biodiesel.
Making biodiesel is simple, but you need to FULLY understand the fundamentals. In this section, I’ll take you through some of the most important things you need to know about the biodiesel production process.
Here we go!
All the ingredients and tools you need…
If you’ve ever cooked any food in the kitchen, you’ll know that the ingredients you use are the most important elements of your cooking. It’s not only important that you use the right ingredients, you also have to use them in the right measurements.
Don’t worry, I have included a short tutorial for you in this section that will put you through the measurements. I’ll just go ahead to list the ingredients you need to make biodiesel, as follows:
- Used Vegetable Oil – Of course, you know where to get this. Like I mentioned earlier, household kitchens, restaurants and hotels are great sources of waste vegetable oil. You can also use virgin (unused) vegetable oil, but this would be more expensive. That’s why I recommend used oil.
- Methanol – Also known as ‘Methyl Alcohol’. This is the second most important ingredient in biodiesel production after the vegetable oil. You can get methanol from any chemical merchants around you. It’s a very versatile chemical that’s used in industries and laboratories. It’s also quite affordable.
- Potassium Hydroxide or Sodium Hydroxide – These chemicals are widely used in soap making and are known in the market as ‘Lye’ and ‘Caustic Soda’ respectively. In biodiesel production, they act as catalysts during the reaction of the oil and methanol.
- Tools – Some of the tools you need during the production process are mixing containers, a thermometer or temperature gauge, weighing scale, and of course, a pair of safety gloves.
The production process
You’ll be dealing with chemicals while making biodiesel so it’s very important that you follow the right process, in order to get the right results.
Of all the tutorials on Youtube that explain how to make biodiesel, I found two great ones that are simple and easy to understand. If you’re curious, take a few minutes to watch them. There are several others too on Youtube that you can check out after reading this article. Watch them several times until you fully understand the entire production process.
This tutorial shows how to make a small batch of biodiesel using virgin (unused) canola oil.
This tutorial shows how to make biodiesel on a larger scale in tanks. This one uses waste vegetable oil collected from local restaurants. Pay close attention to the need to filter the used oils.
Now That You Know What To Do, What’s Next?
Like I already stated, the importance and influence of biodiesel will continue to grow across the world. In Africa, biodiesel presents us with a unique opportunity to reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels which cause harm to both humans and the environment.
If you’re interested in exploring the potentials of biodiesel in your country, I have three pieces of advice for you:
Practice and perfect your understanding of the science.
You’ve just watched a few tutorials on biodiesel production. Don’t stop here. Try it out and do it by yourself on a small scale at home and see how it all works. Use the biodiesel you produce on a small engine to see how well it works. Practice has a way of boosting your confidence and preparing you for the business, when you‘re prepared to start it.
You may be tempted to take off on a large scale, especially if you live in a country where diesel fuel is expensive or scarce. But I would advise you to start on a small scale to test the market. Remember, no business idea is bulletproof. That’s why it’s important that you test your business concept on a small scale first.
A great business idea will remain an idea until you take action on it. Over the next few years, I expect that eco-friendly fuels like biodiesel will start to make significant inroads into Africa. If you feel a certain urge to start a business around biodiesel, by all means start taking some action. Until you do, you’re just as inactive as the next guy who has no viable idea.
That’s it! I hope you had as much fun reading this article as I had doing the research and writing it. It is my hope that this article will inspire Africa’s first biodiesel millionaires and increase the momentum to shift our continent towards renewable energy sources.