The wide variety of uses for diesel fuel has established it as a primary energy source (Encinar, 2002). However, alternatives to diesel fuel are being developed; alternatives that are more environmentally sound and that can be derived from more accessible resources. Biofuel is one such alternative; its only drawback being its manufacturing cost. Biofuel synthesis can be performed effectively in the lab by transesterification of new vegetable oil with base catalyst (Encinar, 2002). The primary materials required to produce biofuel in this experiment were new vegetable oil, potassium hydroxide and alcohol (both methanol and ethanol were used). It was determined that the type of alcohol mattered to the quality of biofuel produced when the reaction mixture was heated, however differences were not as obvious when no heat was applied to the reaction. It should also be noted a secondary product of the reaction, glycerin, was also collected in measurable quantities and could therefore be used in other manufacturing environments, making this a reaction with little to no waste material.
Haylee Trout, ’04 Cedar Rapids , IA
Majors: Chemistry (ACS)
Sponsor: Charles Liberko