Friday, October 17, 2008

Meeting Results

My apologies about the incorrect meeting time.  I got there late and so I only have part of the updates.  On the table were discussions about a certification process, a redesign of the heating process to increase safety, the possibility of heating the room with the bio-diesel and tonight's farm trip.
As for the certification, Dr. Arnold brought up the possibility of certification to use the bio-diesel facility.  At least one certified member would need to be present per batch process.  Once a certain proficiency with the apparatus was demonstrated, one could obtain this status.  This would reduce the amount of time senior members would need to be present individually and increase the amount of participation by younger members.  Exact standards for this have yet to be set.  At present, we can make 80 gallons of bio-diesel per week, with only two trips down per week.  With the certification process, each senior member would need to come down only once a month for a time span of five hours to achieve this amount.
The heating process failed last Thursday.  The methanol inside of the water heater combusted (after hitting it's flash point).  A solution proposed for this would be to heat up the water within the water heater and circulate this through the bio-diesel (in tubes, as a heat exchanger).  This would not only reduce the need to heat up the liquids but it would also minimize the possibility of starting any other combustions with the methanol.  (Bio-diesel's flash point is too high to combust under normal circumstances.)
The concept of heating the farm's room is not a new one.  In the future, it is entirely possible that the whole farm could be powered by an electric generator running off of a diesel engine, but at the moment the diesel heater would be too expensive and possibly dangerous.  At the moment, a heat exchanger from the water heater seems more realistic.
Tonight's trip will be an attempt to use a vacuum process to recover the methanol.  Good luck to them!

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