Carbon Negative biodiesel system: modular components

Modular design should focus on developing scalable, independent functional elements (modules) with a variety of applications and potential uses.

Module 1: Biodiesel processor


Alternative processor design using propane tanks –

Notes:  55 gal steel drums with welded “cone bottoms” ( should be avoided for use as biodiesel processors.  The thin steel allows too much heat escape, the weld typically leaks after several batches are run, and the system cannot tolerate high pressure.

If using electrical heating elements for processing, electric water heaters are preferable for use as processors, though gas ones may be substituted.  Gas water heaters with donut-style opening in the inner core of the tank are preferable for heat exchange systems.

Module 2: Bicycle powered pump/generator


The red barrel pumps ( tend to require a relatively large amount of force to turn.

Alternative pumps: drill master – resistant to solvents, oils, heat, seawater –

Fly wheel system for generator?

Module 3: Biochar stove/heat exchange system

Module 4: Fermentation tank/algae photo bioreactor



Rationale for using Chlorella vulgaris

C. vulgaris is a common species of single-celled algae found in most bodies of fresh water.  It is spherical in shape and around 2 to 10 μm in diameter. C. vulgaris multiplies rapidly, requiring only carbon dioxide, water, sunlight, and a small amount of nutrients to reproduce. It has been thoroughly investigated as a potential food source due to its high protein content and presence other essential nutrients.   When dried, C. vulgaris is about 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fibre, and 10% minerals and vitamins.

What might be the most appropriate DIY oil extraction methods/tools?
    • Cell wall has a high elasticity modulus
    • Even when free water has been removed, wet biomass retains sufficient interstitial water to act as lubricant
  • Rupture of cell wall through mechanical friction and steam explosion is only possible when dry
  • increased oil production in high KOH wash water

Module 5: Methyl/Ethyl alcohol distillation system

could this be integrated into heat exchanger inside a gas water heater?


Above image: fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), glycerol precipitate.  Ethanol was fermented in photobioreactor fermenter with algal CO2 capture, distilled on biochar stove, and dried with corn starch followed by silica gel.  New vegetable oil (soybean) was processed with ethanol and KOH as a catalyst.   FAEE did not pass the 27/3 test for ASTM spec biodiesel.   Likely sources of error: old, impure KOH; short reaction time.

Ethanol resources:


~ by farnaby on January 20, 2013.

One Response to “Carbon Negative biodiesel system: modular components”

  1. Fantastic site. Plenty of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you to your sweat!

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