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Tiny Biodiesel Reactors

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the tiny-power-plant dept.

369

Lee_in_KC writes "A professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University developed a small reactor to directly convert vegetable oil to biodiesel. Goran Jovanovic reports his invention is approximately the size of a credit card. It pumps vegetable oil and alcohol through parallel channels to convert the oil into biodiesel almost instantly. Current mainstream methods to produce biodiesel take more than a day and also produces other byproducts which must be neutralized before disposal or use in other manufacturing processes."

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Two Words (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162367)

Mr. Fusion.

better article (5, Informative)

Quixote (154172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162370)

You can find a much better article here [capitalpress.info] .

I'm not sure how feasible this is. Also, as per the longer article (above), it does not eliminate the need for NaOH; unless I'm reading it wrong.

Re:better article (5, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162417)

This is discussed in the article.

NaOH is the catalyst used in the reaction.

The microreactor under development by the university and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute eliminates the mixing, the standing time and maybe even the need for a catalyst.

Re:better article (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162434)

Oh, I see. Yeah, you're right. I'm a dork.

Re:better article (1)

Alex Black (969547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162597)

Someone correct my understanding if i am wrong.. but i think if somehow the base NaOH is used as a catalyst, catalyst are not used in the overall reaction. You get them back, so only a bit would be needed to start each reaction and when you get them back they can be reused to start each following reaction mechanism.

Re:better article (4, Interesting)

Baddas (243852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162678)

Not only that, but the point of catalysts is to increase the rate of reaction (in some cases with equilibrium reactions it results in shifting the balance to the other side)

With microchannels like he's using, the surface area is so high you've got a naturally higher rate of reaction, so you may not need the catalyst at all.

Re:better article (5, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162706)

You can run diesel engines on unrefined rapeseed oil if you tweak them a bit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_vegetable_oi l [wikipedia.org]
In the UK drivers using SVO have been prosecuted for failure to pay duty to Customs and Excise.

Biodiesel just means that you can run an umodified engine -

from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel [wikipedia.org]
Sometimes even unrefined vegetable oil is incorrectly called "biodiesel". Unlike unrefined vegetable oil, biodiesel does not require fuel pre-heating and filtration due to issues with coagulation, and also require no or minimal modification to the fuel system.

Just what America needs... (4, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162382)

Aren't we fat enough without our cars putting on extra pounds as well?!?! Vegetable oil has like 20 grams of fat per serving.. I wonder how many miles-per-gallon my Hummer will get after its intake is clogged with cholesterol..

Re:Just what America needs... (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162481)

The H2 does not have a diesel option. Some people have swapped in GM duramax diesels into them but thats an expensive route. The Duramax diesel is standard on the H1 which starts at $130,000.

Re:Just what America needs... (1)

daniel_newton (817437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162530)

vegetable matter does not contain any cholesterol you ninny

Re:Just what America needs... (2)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162803)

vegetable matter does not contain any cholesterol you ninny

Just because plant lipids contain less cholesterol than animal ones does not mean they don't contain any.

less != none

Re:Just what America needs... (5, Funny)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162904)

No, you're looking at it backwards: think of all the excess fat we have available for automobile fuel! Every liposuction could be like a little oil well....

Did I miss something, or..? (3, Informative)

AWhiteFlame (928642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162386)

> Conventional production involves dissolving a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide, in alcohol, then stirring it into vegetable oil in large vats for about two hours. The mixture then has to sit for 12 to 24 hours while a slow chemical reaction forms biodiesel along with glycerin, a byproduct.

It mentions a byproduct in the conventional method. Am I missing something, or does it not clarify whether or not this new method produces a byproduct?

Re:Did I miss something, or..? (5, Informative)

Doytch (950946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162429)

Glycerin is not a problem in and of itself, it's the catalyst properties that are mixed in from the NaOH that end up creating useless glycerin that must be purified to be of use. Since this may eliminate the need for the catalyst, the glycerin can be used immediately without purification.

Great news... (4, Funny)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162389)

I'd applaude but the sodium methoxide disolved the flesh of my hands.

Re:Great news... (1)

xenn (148389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162709)

what has CH3NaO got to do with anything?

Can I get Tiny Reflective Mudflap Women... (3, Funny)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162390)

...to put on my tiny biodiesel engine? That way all the other miniature tiny biodiesel trucks will know to blow their tiny horns as I pass...

I'm waiting. (3, Insightful)

ScaryMonkey (886119) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162393)

I'll be interested to see how much the oil companies pay for his patent so they can bury it for the next fifty years.

Re:I'm waiting. (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162466)

Why would the oil companies do that?

Re:I'm waiting. (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162498)

you must be new to this country.
.
.
.
.
I's OK you'll either adjust or go insane.
-nB

Re:I'm waiting. (2, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162512)

Let's set you snide comment aside for a moment.

Do you think the 'oil companies' would really buy this patent for the sole purpose of burying it?

Re:I'm waiting. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162610)

Short Answer: Yes. Stranger things have happened and thats not just the tinfoil hat talking.

Re:I'm waiting. (0, Flamebait)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162619)

Let's set you snide comment aside for a moment. Do you think the 'oil companies' would really buy this patent for the sole purpose of burying it?

Maybe you're not staying but while you're here you must see NYC. Or if you're in Canada visit ... oh never mind.

Re:I'm waiting. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162901)

"Do you think the 'oil companies' would really buy this patent for the sole purpose of burying it?"

What's so hard to believe about it? Oil's a cash cow. Buy the patent, maintain your margins. From a business perspective, it would be dumb for them not to do this.

Re:I'm waiting. (1, Interesting)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162596)

Historically, companies have bought emerging patents for the primary reason of defending their existing business model.

Oil companies are no exception. There is a 100 mpg carburetor patent that an oil company is sitting on. Dozens of batteries patents are sat on by automotives, oil and petrochemical industries.

Microsoft is buying patent as a defensive mechanism against open-source software encroachments.

Proctor and Gamble has bought out some organic companies and then dissolved them overnite to protect their non-organic trade secrets.

Too many to mention...

A perfect reason for abolishing the patent system (I am a patent holder) so that the level playing field is attained (no more money wasted on litigation, lawyers, arbitration, licensing deals, cross-licensing deals). Think of the lower cost the product will become!!!!

Re:I'm waiting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162644)

There is a 100 mpg carburetor patent that an oil company is sitting on.
This is true. I also have a bridge I would like to sell you.

Re:I'm waiting (5, Insightful)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162661)

There is a 100 mpg carburetor patent that an oil company is sitting on.

This story has been floating around since the 1950s, far longer than any patent term. Either EvilOilCo has a hundred-year patent to go with their hundren-mile-per-gallon car, or there never was such a device...

Re:I'm waiting (1)

GodLogiK (650517) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162848)

"There is a 100 mpg carburetor patent that an oil company is sitting on."

"This story has been floating around since the 1950s, far longer than any patent term. Either EvilOilCo has a hundred-year patent to go with their hundren-mile-per-gallon car, or there never was such a device..."

I remember when I was a kid, maybe in my early teens (so late 80's early 90's) Popular Science or Popular Mechanics had a little feature on the 100mpg engine, i think it even made their front cover. I remember thinking how cool that was because I was pretty into the environment. I almost thought it was only a dream for a while, but now that you brought it up I know it was real.
those bastards... the conspiracy is real, everyone just thinks they're going insane

Re:I'm waiting. (1)

David Hume (200499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162828)

There is a 100 mpg carburetor patent that an oil company is sitting on. Dozens of batteries patents are sat on by automotives, oil and petrochemical industries.
Great! I'd really like to learn more, so please identify them in the U.S. Patent Office patent database [uspto.gov]

I hear ya... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162841)

I think there are plenty of non-violent protesters that would not only make these black market, but plaster the fact that they are useing it all over the car.

Re:I'm waiting. (3, Informative)

ScaryMonkey (886119) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162613)

Because energy companies have all the infrastructure in place to continue profiting off of petroleum. Switching over to alternative fuels would require massive restructuring of their operations and investment in new infrastructure. Oil companies are not necessarily averse to alternative fuels per se, but at the moment their cost-benefit analyses will tell them that its easier and more profitable to continue focusing on petroleum. When there is little enough oil left that it becomes unprofitable to keep extracting and selling it, the move to alternative technologies will make more sense (at least, that's the business perspective).

And, as another poster pointed out correctly, I shoould have said "the next twenty years."

Patents only last 20 years... (1)

moosehooey (953907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162574)

yup

What about the university... (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162722)

I'll be interested to see how much the oil companies pay for his patent so they can bury it for the next fifty years.

Or how much the university demands in licensing fees.

Far too much good technology goes unused for years until patents expire because their creators overestimate how much they're worth (or simply get greedy.)

Dolby had it right. He licensed Dolby technology at a price so cheap (a few cents per tape player) that manufacturers were happy to pay it. So- every tape player ended up with Dolby licensed technology, and he made millions.

Precisely nothing (2, Interesting)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162853)

Didn't your Econ 101 prof erase this myth for you long ago? Simply put, if big oil or anyone else has a useful patent, they could make more money by using it than hiding it.

IF Big Oil is greedy, and IF Big Oil owns a useful patent, they Will use it.

Didn't your Econ101 prof dispel this myth for you? (1)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162860)

It is never profitable to hide a good technology to protect your older inferior technology. Assuming oil companies are greedy, they would USE this patent, not ignore it (assuming it was profitable in the first place).

Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (4, Funny)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162394)

I find it interesting that the biodiesel reactor is - literally - the size of a credit card.

Biodiesel car upgrade $50
New fuel lines $80
Energy independence ... Priceless!

For a free fuel life, there's GTA
For everything else, there's BiodieselCard.

Re:Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162458)

Energy independence ... Priceless!

So it's really going to suck that we have to buy the corn from Mongolia.

KFG

Re:Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162503)

Yeah, it would. They would have to pump in water to turn the corn into cream corn to ship it back out again. At least the environmentalists won't have a cow if the pipeline has a leak since cream corn is very biodegradeable.

Re:Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162658)

So it's really going to suck that we have to buy the corn from Mongolia.

No, not really. Remember: there's a LOT of ariable land in this country. As the price of oil keeps going up, we're getting closer and closer to the point where an acre of corn-for-fuel looks like a better and better deal.

In less than 200 years, expect the United States to be back as a net exporter of "oil", due both to the loss of fossil fuels and our high tech return to our agrarian roots.

Re:Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (0, Troll)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162711)

. . .there's a LOT of ariable land in this country.

Too bad they scraped all the topsoil off of it in order to build housing developments for people who now have to drive 20 miles each way to get to work and back.

KFG

Re:Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162715)

So what's your better idea?

Re:Will that be cash - or biodiesel? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162660)

Just like all my other credit card sized items, no doubt this too will burst into flames from over extend use.

Soon to be assassinated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162400)

Or to disappear.
  I'm sure the oil companies and the Bush family would like to invite him over for a sphagetti dinner.
  To bad he won't make it home.

He's safe in Oregon (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162808)

Few people on the east coast know we're here.
Sort of the same reason New Mexico license plates have USA on them.

How much juice is this going to produce? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162409)

Given that the pipes are smaller than a human hair, it's funny that the article says nothing about how many devices would you need to pump out commercially viable quantities.

From the article:
The device - about the size of a credit card - pumps vegetable oil and alcohol through tiny parallel channels, each smaller than a human hair, to convert the oil into biodiesel almost instantly...The device is small, but it can be stacked in banks to increase production levels to the volume required for commercial use.

Re:How much juice is this going to produce? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162708)

Think like a catalytic converter on your car. each cell in the honeycombe is small but in parallel(each device having multiple channels) you get a large flowrate. Each device produces only a miniscule amount but its more than the flow of a single hair sized pipe. "Arranged this way, a unit about the size of a computer printer and costing $1,000 to $5,000 could produce as much as 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of biodiesel a year." -the other article on the device.

On a side note the device still does use NaOH but its just the catalyst and says on the pipe linings. Think a cars Catalytic converter agian.

Well now that's just silly. (4, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162419)

I mean, my car already runs on a credit-card-sized device. It's called a credit card.

Re:Well now that's just silly. (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162576)

I mean, my car already runs on a credit-card-sized device. It's called a credit card.

Following that line of reasoning, I can argue that my car is essentially human-powered, and an employer is a catalyst and lots of greenbacks are a more refined form of human. Unfortunately, it appears rather obvious that I need to work on the efficiency of this means of transportation, since I seem to be working awful damn hard and using more and more energy per mile as time goes on.

Cellular Reactions. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162443)

"Essentially, the reactors, which can range in size from less than a square inch to several square inches, use tiny, parallel channels no larger in diameter than a human hair, to bring the alcohol and vegetable oil into contact with each other in the presence of a sodium hydroxide catalyst.

What results is not only a tiny stream of 100 percent biodiesel fuel, but also glycerin, the latter having uses in making soaps and even fossil fuel-free plastics.

The microreactors, each of which produces only a minute amount of biodiesel, are designed to be used with thousands of others of the same size in a single, integrated system."

Sounds like the mechanical equivalent of an organ.

Re:Cellular Reactions. (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162832)

Sounds like the mechanical equivalent of an organ.
I believe that's spelled "Beowulf Cluster" around here.

Really? (3, Funny)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162445)

"a unit about the size of a computer printer and costing $1,000 to $5,000 could produce as much as 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of biodiesel a year."
"Jovanovic compared it to Hewlett-Packard when that company invented the inkjet printer cartridge."


Looks at printer sized bio diesel generator: ...REPLACE CYAN BIO DIESEL CARTRIDGE...

This guy must really like printers.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162545)

PC LOAD DIESEL. What the fuck does that mean!?

Re:Really? or why Universities Love Printers (2, Interesting)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162620)

Looks at printer sized bio diesel generator: ...REPLACE CYAN BIO DIESEL CARTRIDGE...

This guy must really like printers.


Actually, many scientific labs at state universities use printers and printer heads a lot - for example, a new sealed plastic crystal suspension device created at the University of Washington uses HP inkjets (cheap to get, and colored Husky Purple) to deliver reagants in controlled amounts into plastic tubes which are then sealed by laser.

Every university has a section that recycles computers and printers - so it's easy to divert some of them for use in development of new technologies.

Thus, using printer technology to create a biodiesel converter is not that unusual.

I think we should use animal fat (2, Funny)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162470)

It's more concentrated in terms of caloric value (energy).

Plus, PETA's reaction would be hysterical.

Re:I think we should use animal fat (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162554)

It's more concentrated in terms of caloric value (energy).

Plus, PETA's reaction would be hysterical.


Well, first of all, the biodiesel reactor is the size of a credit card.

For animal fat, well, I always use a frying pan - that's a bit bigger.

And the global warming gas used in growing animals is a lot more than that in growing plants, so ...

Re:I think we should use animal fat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162603)

Stop saying it's the size of a credit card. The entire array necessary to produce fuel isn't the size of a credit card. One element of the array is as thin as a credit car.

Re:I think we should use animal fat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162872)

Then our girl friends can eat all the cake and chocolate they want and we can give them a regular liposuction to run our cars!

We're saved! (-1, Troll)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162476)

I have a theory that for years we have all been dosing ourselves to death slowly with X-rays produced by the firing of our spark plugs. The 35-40Kv used to force a spark across a spark plug is about the same as the voltage used to produce medical diagnostic X-rays. The lower amperage just means that the dosage is lower. But the effects of X-rays are cummulative over a fairly large span of time, so thousands of micro-bursts per minute for years is likely the equivalent of a few hundred chest X-rays. Old style cast-iron cylinder heads blocked a lot of the emission, but modern aluminum heads are virtually transparent to X-Rays.
SO call me a paranoid nut, but I am convinved that thousands of cancers per year that are being blamed on second hand smoke or UV exposure are really due to spark plug radiation.
Ergo, cheap environmentally friendly renewable diesel fuel could be an amazing blessing, in unanticipated ways.

Re:We're saved! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162513)

you can take the tinfoil hat off.

x-ray machines generate the x-rays by using that voltage to accelerate electrons which slam into targets, causing x-rays to be emitted.

sparks don't emit x-rays.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-ray [wikipedia.org]

Re:We're saved! (2, Informative)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162845)

For those of you who were born stupid, the emission of radiation by spark gaps was first discovered by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz - the same one that the Hertz in megahertz is named after - back in 1887. It was Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen who discovered that this phenomenon could be used to produce X-rays in 1895 Here is a paper on building an Xray tube USING SPARK PLUGS. http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServ let?prog=normal&id=RSINAK000072000010003983000001& idtype=cvips&gifs=yes [aip.org] Here are several scientific papers on the production of X-rays by spark gaps in various gaseous media. http://www.slac.stanford.edu/pubs/icfa/fall97/pape r2/paper2.pdf [stanford.edu] http://www.webcom.com/sknkwrks/xray.htm [webcom.com] http://www.electrotherapymuseum.com/_PatentLibrary /_FischerXRaySparkGap/index.htm [electrotherapymuseum.com] Morons.

Re:We're saved! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162523)

Because it isn't like biodiseil would need spark plugs or anything.

Oh, and you're a crazy loon.

Re:We're saved! (1)

daniel_newton (817437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162551)

correct me if im wrong but...

diesel engines use glowplugs not sparkplugs you ninny

Re:We're saved! (1)

Luckster7 (234417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162698)

You're wrong, but you're close. Diesels ignite via compression only. Glow plugs only heat up the air when the engine is cold; they exist solely to make starting easier. Some diesels don't even have glow plugs, they use grid heaters instead.

Re:We're saved! (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162883)

And some don't even use grid heaters or glow plugs. My father had a Ford 4000 tractor that didn't have them. It would even start right up when there was snow on the ground. I was suprised at the time, as up until then, I thought all diesels had glow plugs. The Kubota sure did, and it didn't like to start if you didn't use them (you could start it without them, but it took a while and was hard on the starter). The Ford would crank right up. My car sure won't start without them, unless it is still warm.

Re:We're saved! (2)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162865)

No, simpleton, diesels do in fact not use spark plugs. They use a much higher compression ratio to cause the compressed fuel and air to reach a temperature where the fuel ignites spontaneously. They are assisted by *glow* plugs - which are wires heated by electrical resistance that use no spark whatsoever.

Re:We're saved! (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162599)

Your theory is cutely paranoid, but I believe your understanding of X-ray production is flawed or incomplete. X-rays will not be produced merely because something operates "at the same voltage as" medical X-ray equipment. There is nothing specially magical about having electricity at that voltage. Rather, there are two ways to generate electrons: in the first, you use a synchrotron (a circular type of particle accelerator) and in the second, more traditional manner, you simply run high-energy electrons through a vacuum tube and into a special metallic target: the high-energy electron then knocks loose an electron in the metal and an electron from a higher orbital falls down to take its place (emitting an X-ray photon as it does so - that's flourescence for you). The physics in an internal combustion engine aren't really conducive to this: the electrons are not accelerated in a vacuum, but rather they are conducted along through the gasoline/air mixture (which experiences electrical breakdown and rapidly becomes ionized in the gap between the two electrodes). Even then, consider that undirected X-ray radiation would end up diminishing in intensity with the square of distance (and you've got several feet). And finally, there is also a nontrivial amount of shielding between You and the Engine, in the forms of the engine block (remember, these supposed X-rays are INSIDE the cylinders), the car body, and whatever else is in between.

If thousands of cancers a year are being blamed on ultraviolet, well, there's a lot more ultraviolet streaming down from the Sun then you could theoretically come up with as coming out of your car engine. Now, secondhand smoke is another matter, and I suspect a highly overrated cancer threat, but that's another story. Don't hold your breath for an "amazing blessing".

Re:We're saved! (1, Interesting)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162737)

For all of your wordiness, your answer is nonsensical. X-ray tubes generate X-rays by "accelerating" electrons using the potential gap between an anode and a cathode. This is exactly , precisely, identically how a spark plug acclerates electrons to jump its gap. The energy of the electrons when they reach their destination is determined by ...the voltage potential between the electrodes. Which is exactly, precisely the same in a spark plug as it is in an X-ray tube. Your description of orbital shells is, well, mistaken. Flourescent lights may work that way. Xrays are ionizing radiation. Producing them requires an electron to be knocked free of its atom, and then return, emitting X-ray photons when returning to the orbital shell. While a few of the electrons in a spark plug may be absorbed by the gas an air mixture that is ignited in turn, most of them pass through to the anode. If they didn't the spark plug wouldn't fire at all because of the resistance (Like what happens when your spark plug is fouled with carbon build-up) As for the distance squared factor - there is also several feet between you and the Xray tube at the hospital - there has to be in order to allow the X-rays to spread sufficiently so that their angle of incidence with the film produces a reasonable image instead of a fish-eye view.

Re:We're saved! (1)

tylernt (581794) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162792)

This is all very interesting, but wouldn't the steel firewall block or reflect any theoretical X-rays away from the driver and passengers anyway? Could be a hazard for pedestrians near fiberglass cars, I suppose...

Re:We're saved! (1)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162888)

Some, but not all. Steel is only a fair-to middlin Xray sheild.

NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1, Informative)

MonkeyBoyo (630427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162520)

Fing ignorant science writers.
The main article says:
Conventional production involves dissolving a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide, in alcohol, then stirring it into vegetable oil in large vats for about two hours. The mixture then has to sit for 12 to 24 hours while a slow chemical reaction forms biodiesel along with glycerin, a byproduct.

The glycerin is separated and can be used to make other products, such as soaps, but it still contains the chemical catalyst, which must be neutralized and removed using hydrochloric acid, a long and costly process.
NaOH + glycerin = soap.

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162582)

doesn't it depend on the actual charge and resultant biochemical structure?

for example, it could have a double positive charge ++ or even a negative ionized charge.

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1)

WhoDatBe (876340) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162631)

Don't dismiss technology like this so quickly. This country's dependance upon fossil fuels is (one of) our biggest problems politically. Ideas like this would allow us to greatly, if not totally, rid ourselves of this burden. If the technology is feasible, and can be created cheaply and efficiently enough that I can buy a tank of gas without having to sign away my mortgage, I would gladly trade in my car. I am not even talking about running the device at my house either, I would fill up at a gas station just so I could appease the SOB's who are charging me almost three dollars a gallon as is!

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162756)

well, this is pretty much a solution to 1/3 of the problem.

one of the parts is getting the raw materials (the vegetable oil or whatever they want to use) as there simply isn't really enough available land (land that isn't being used for growing food) to be able to supply anything near the current demand. even if they use waste oil (which is already used in other industries such as soap and cosmetics) and waste animal fats, that still won't come close. but even just 10% of total consumption would make a good difference in things.

another is getting oil companies to adopt it, as I'm pretty sure that its still presently more profitable to pump oil outta the ground and refine and sell it, especially at the current prices of oil and gas, which as far as anything I've seen, is way out of wack of the costs of production.

and there might also be a 4th third in the whole fact that most people in the US (and pretty much the entire continent, for that matter) still don't seem to like diesel engines, and think that they're still the messy, smelly, smokey engines of 30 years ago.

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162850)

"and there might also be a 4th third in the whole fact that most people in the US (and pretty much the entire continent, for that matter) still don't seem to like diesel engines, and think that they're still the messy, smelly, smokey engines of 30 years ago."

Cars like the Audi R10 [wikipedia.org] will hopefully be changing this misconception. Powerful, Efficient, and Quiet. But yes, all the Ford Powerstrokes and the likes are disgusting.

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1)

WhoDatBe (876340) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162859)

one of the parts is getting the raw materials Agreed, but if the demand for biodeisel spiked, the market would respond. I hear this argument a lot, and simply can't accept it as a long term problem that would require some kind of major effort to overcome. Also, as you said, 10% would be a big help. That would be something like half a million barrels of oil A DAY just for the US (or maybe I have the number wrong in my head and that would be world wide [500 million barrels/day is the number I remember]). Either way, holy cow!

another is getting oil companies to adopt it I really couldn't care less, and neither should you. The oil companies are dinoaurs (pardon the pun), and they know it. They have known it for years, we have just (foolishly?) allowed them their delusions because there wasn't anything 'better'. If we as consumers demand biodeisel, some smart entrepeneur will sell it and will make billions if sold properly. The popularity of hybrid cars is proof positive that people are sick of OPEC and their ilk. Furthermore, consider the trucking industry. Have you seen what they are paying for normal diesel right now? A single semi truck uses hundreds of gallons a day...

most people .... don't seem to like diesel engines I don't agree with this, but you are correct on the surface. If people can be made to watch (and enjoy) shows like "American Idol" or "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", then they can also be made to understand that diesel cars are far better, faster, and shinier now than even five years ago. I would like to think people are smarter than that, but sadly most are not, so run a bunch of commercials during American Idiot showing Audi's diesel powered concept race car that will be running LeMans this year zooming past a gas pump and I bet my next paycheck the phones would be ringing off the hook. Diesel has gotten a bad rap over the years, but its starting to come into its own, and the average family in this country is desperate for an (economic) alterantive to gasoline.

The simple fact of the matter is, it all comes down to cost. If this guy can produce biodiesel on the cheap, and no one adopts it, I will lose the last shred of hope I have in humanity.

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162664)

NaOH + fatty acid ---> soap

glycerin makes soap more runny. it doesn't react as an acid.

Re:NaOH is a reactant not a catalyst (1)

Lord Aurora (969557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162876)

Actually, you're absolutely wrong. NaOH is a catalyst.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel_production [wikipedia.org] can it explain it in simple terms.

I'd explain it myself, but it's late and I'm tired. Rest assured, though, NaOH is the catalyst.

Fing ignorant science writers usually know their stuff.

Which is why they became Fing science writers, as opposed to Fing pulp fiction writers.

Not a good way to become oil-independent (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162564)

The energy returned on energy invested for biofuel is about 1/10th what it is for petroleum, and the current method of food production is completely dependent on fossil fuels, and INSUSTAINABLE.
http://www.energybulletin.net/5045.html [energybulletin.net]

The ONLY answer is to switch to nuclear power, ASAP.

Or is it a good way to become oil-independent? (3, Informative)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162598)

The energy returned on energy invested for biofuel is about 1/10th what it is for petroleum

According to scientific papers searchable in ScienceDirect (if you have university access), the Netherlands is acheiving around 40 percent energy - and since it's derived from solar radiation (sun on plants), this is a lot more efficient than our current 30 percent usage of Canadian Tar Oil Sands, which uses barrels of oil to release more oil from the sands.

So, from that perspective, it's more efficient.

Now, it's true that the energy density is not as high, so long-distance movement of such fuels is not as useful as local power plant usage, or local heating. That's a function of caloric mass content and BTU/m2 - but we're only beginning to develop this source, so one can easily expect higher yields as we manipulate the plant genomes and conversion processes.

Re:Not a good way to become oil-independent (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162673)

the current method of food production is completely dependent on fossil fuels, and INSUSTAINABLE.

You didn't RTFA. They're talking about local production of fuel by the farmers themselves from their own crops.

So I'll be able to fuel my farm machines, to grow my crops, to fuel my farm machines, to grow my crops, to. . .

And all I'll need is this reactor. . .oh, yeah, and an oil press. . .and a still to make the alcohol, from my crops. . .and some sort of fuel for the still. . .

But at least I can do all of this in my copious free time when I'm not actually tending to or harvesting the crops.

KFG

Re:Not a good way to become oil-independent (1)

Randall_Jones (849846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162730)

I don't think farmers are too averse to operating stills. It'd be cool to see vintage prohibition-era moonshine operations repurposed, too.

Yeah, Yeah...come back when it works (3, Insightful)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162586)

From TFA:

"If we're successful with this, nobody will ever make biodiesel any other way,"

So, what you are trying to say is that you haven't ever done it, but in *theory* it should be a phenomenal improvement over exiting methods of biodeisel production...

I'll be over here holding my breath.

Yeah, but... (1)

Skidge (316075) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162592)

Does it still smell like fried chicken and french fries when you drive down the road?

Two Word (again) (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162595)

Desktop Fusion.

What I really want to know... (4, Funny)

thatseattleguy (897282) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162641)

...is whether it can run in reverse: pump in biodiesel and veggie oil, and get pure alcohol out the other end. Then we'll really have something! :}

Re:What I really want to know... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162837)

Suddenly, I have an urge to visit my uncle Earl & check out his moonshine equipment.

biodiesel++ (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162667)

Japanese researchers announced several months ago that they've eliminated the need for expensive acids [treehugger.com] in biodiesel reactors.

Yep - Quite cool (1)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162766)

I'm sure there are many more way to improve this technology and make it more efficient and cost-effective.

After all, it's not like is has had the kind of push that other technologies have had for much longer..

They haven't developed anything yet... (2, Informative)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162699)

Basically the concept is on paper only. Why else would he be stating things like "If it works...", or "...could reduce...", "...might not need a catalyst..." etc.? It is because they havn't gotten a working prototype yet. They basically believe that their design could work, as they have done the chemical reaction analysis as well as a design analysis on how to cause the chemical reaction to occur quickly and efficently. But again, this is all on paper still. We don't even know yet if their results from the chemical reaction simulation are correct yet!

The diesel engine was designed to run on veg. oil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162767)

So, why convert it to biodiesel in the first place?

The diesel engine was designed to run on coal (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162835)

I seem to remember the first diesels were designed to run on powdered coal mixed with oil. Didn't work too well, cinders, needed special coal etc...
Actually a "true" diesel likely would run on veg oil or lots of other flameable substances. You need a substance that when blasted onto the cylinder (by an high pressure air blast) that wont burn to quickly. It needs to burn not explode.

Ostriches. (0, Troll)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162795)

As usual, the americans have their heads in the sand, hoping that magic technology will enable them to keep going in their plush trucks.

Well, no.

First, the amount of energy needed will stay the same, whether you run your truck on gasoline, diesel, alcohol, natural gas, wood, coal, electricity, hydrogen or gooseshit.

Second, the result of combustion will always be CO2 (except for Hydrogen and electricity), so forget about cancelling global warming.

Third, where are you going to grow all the plants needed to make all that vegetable oil and alcohol??? Where are you going to take the energy needed to transform all those plants into biodiesel? How many people will starve so the americans can still move their arses in their plush trucks???

There is no miracle solution, except to stop relying on cars en masse.

Bigger picture of CO2 (3, Informative)

fintux (798480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162866)

It's not about whether it creates CO2 when burned or not. It's about where the coal for it comes. In vegetable oil, it comes from the plants, which get it from air, from - yes, CO2.

And that CO2 would be released after the plant dies anyway, because of all microbic activity etc. So why not to use the released energy tp move a car instead of as food for microbes. So it's kind of recycling the CO2.

But when you burn fossile oils, then you are creating CO2 from coal that would have staid under ground for a looooong time, so in that case you woud release CO2 into air without getting any CO2 away.

So there IS a difference. A very significant one.

Re:Ostriches. (0)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162889)

I confess I am not a chemist but does the process of actually growing the biomass to turn into biodiesel not take out at least as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as you put out of the tailpipe. If so, that would be good, right?

]{

$ Cost and Energy Cost of methanol? (1)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162798)

The article, in typical mass-media fashion, does not name the alcohol, but I assume this is methyl alcohol. That, and the cost of NaOH, makes this a non-cheap process.

Suck it...... (1)

irimi_00 (962766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162802)

Other states besides Oregon.

What is the "+1" reply I see nowadays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162834)

On every forum I've seen it's now the fashion to type "+1" on replys. What the hell does this mean? Where I come from this is AD&D talk. I cannot find any info on this new meme.

Before anyone complains about lack of Oil supply (3, Informative)

Pfhor (40220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162839)

Combine these reactors with these http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/1 1/1718256 [slashdot.org] algae who eat CO2 and can be pressed for a vegetable oil, and your coil burning power plant is now more eco friendly. You can also just grow large amounts of other algae and use them to produce the veggie oil also.

Anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162870)

can make biodiesel, in the future we'll probably see rich people using these stupid little things, and poor farmers producing biodiesel the "normal" way... it's pretty simple at the moment, i'm not sure if it could get any easier.

you% fail 1t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15162884)

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