Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to school start

  If you aren't really sure about the basics of biodiesel, then please consider this- we are putting together a team to go over everything we can, from how it is made to it's environmental benefits, to create a series of posters answering the questions people who don't know a lot about biodiesel want to learn.  We will put them up around our production site so people who want to see what biodiesel is all about can just look at all of them.  If you are intereested, please reply or give me a call some time at 410-206-3972.  We can arrange times to work on this an get a working knowledge of whatever you want to know.  Bring your friends!
Have you ever been interested in making soap? We are organizing a soap making group based off of our main byproduct, glycerol. The soap making process will be tested by the first of October and we will be making it at the open house in the Clarksville Research facility. Again, if you are interested, please give me a call. I would love to see how this turns out!
If you are more interested in getting a little messy, we are going to start working on oil pickups from the dining hall and/or the commons, in addition to trips out to the farm. Again, if you are interested, please contact me! (Personally speaking, this is my favorite part.)
We will reiterate all of this at the meeting and go over it in a little more detail. (Sorry about the short notice.) I look forward to hearing from you!

P.S.- We finally got in touch with transit about fueling their vehicles. Look forward to some biodiesel powered buses!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Farm trip Friday

We are planning on another Farm trip Friday!  Also, we have a little lab work available to do, if any one is interested, please contact me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Farm Address (finally)

16114 Drayton Farm Dr
Spencerville, MD 20868

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Election Results

The voting results are in!  We had a great turnout for the polls...
Public Relations- DT
Treasurer- Cassie
Operations Manager- Matt
Research Manager- Ray
President- Nick

Also- the farm address is coming.  Apparently my emails are not as complete as I thought.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Farm Trip

Today we cleaned up the farm and put a lot of the oil into one of the clean IBCs.  (About 4-5 small boxes are left.)  It was a little wet but it was a good trip- also managed to fix the water wash set up and washed out a container we can use for biodiesel later on.  We moved the methanol into the room itself, so the methoxide production can start again.  Most of the preparation is done, so next time we should *cross your fingers* be able to make some biodiesel.  As for this Wednesday, we have officer elections.  Please come and vote.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Sorry I've been off for a while.  I see that we got our Motorweek video got online (link below) and we are having an outreach session on the 17th, at 1:30pm.  If you want to be involved, please contact Mike!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meeting Notes

At today's meeting, we basically went over what things we needed done and broke everyone down into groups to get the work done.  Below is a general breakdown of the groups and who is in them.  If I have you down in the wrong one or you want to switch, just contact me.

     Methane to Methanol Conversion Process (Jay and Matt)- Designing and producing a small scale product that will convert methane gas into methanol.  The current general idea (as I understand it) is to use a rare metal catalyst with a small pump to convert it, but with the funding, these guys have a little leeway to come up with something that will work.  (They are in the process of applying for an Undergraduate Research Award to supplement the Undergraduate Research Award.)
       Algal Feasibility (Marsha and Steph???)- Looking into the feasibility of removing the oil from algae from the ponds at UMBC and the Farm, in addition to possibility from the Chesapeake Bay, using the Algal Bloom maps the Bay Foundation has available.
       General Research (Atto, Mike)- The final group is more general and flexible, researching currently the physical standards required for ASTM certification of fuel.  Hopefully this will lead to more efficient fuel production in the future and possibly use of the fuel in Quadmania.
       Public Relations (DT, Nick)- Keeping the press and general public informed, working with the SEB and SGA to keep our group moving forward to improve the utility of the group.   Will be organizing demonstrations of our biofuel being used in generators, in order to start the use in generators.
      Anaerobic digestion (Nick, DT, Marsha, Angela)- Will be designing and building an anaerobic digestion chamber to get biogas out of manure.

Our entire group is going to start going out to the farm when it gets warmer (right now the biodiesel will gel) and we will need to start organizing rides to and from the farm.  Alas, that is about it for now.  Best of luck!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Farm Trip

Today we went down to the farm and begun our planning for the following semester.  We discussed dividing into different groups and making our work a little more applicable.  The hope is to start getting two groups to come each week- each starting one batch and washing the second.  We have more than enough oil to last us a few months- let's see how quickly we can convert it...

Also- we hope to divide each section into one person's work.  Trying to improve the entire process is more than a little overwhelming, but if we could make each part one person's expertise, we could make this into something special.

We discussed the feasibility of the anaerobic digestion, as well.  We will soon attempt to find someone to do PR because I would like to spend more time working on the project rather than wasting it on "getting the word out."  If anyone wants research, we can pretty easily get more money and I already have a project for you.

It's great to see so much potential for progress.  The bureaucratic work is coming to a close for the semester- let's see how far we can go when it's done...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meeting Notes

Thanks to all who showed up to the meeting this week!  We plan to meet from now on every Wednesday during free hour in the Student Orgs Space.  A point by point summary of what occurred is below.

-We are running low on methanol.  We need to get a bunch more and contact Matt regarding how to move it.  We are considering not purchasing it through the school to save time (and possibly money).
-We need to buy a resin column to remove the water from the biodiesel.  The recent extreme changes in temperature have broken several pipes.
-We are planning a continuous reactor so we need to figure out a set of calculations for that.
-I will be meeting with individuals to see how we can best run the club to further their individual goals.

That's about it.  If you have any questions, please contact me.  I have created a google group to store shared data on the subject.  I hope you are all doing well!  Best of luck in your classes!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Meeting Wednesday

We will be meeting this Wednesday during free hour to discuss the coming semester and what is happening with the biodiesel club.   A partial list of the issues include: other sources of oils, the next trips out, figuring out how to economically test for ASTM standards, various methods of production and kinetics laboratories.  I hope to see you all there!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Anaerobic Digestion and No Catalyst Biodiesel

MTV has let our anaerobic digestion project has gotten through the next level of screening- so we may get another $1000 for the manure to methanol project. (However, apparently that conversion is rather difficult, so we will see how that progresses.)
For the biodiesel, however, it seems that Dr. Arnold is looking into using pressure and temperature as catalysts. We would do the experiment at the same time as Ryan's lewis acid research, allowing us to find the kinetics of the reaction.
We hope to meet soon- I will give more information about that when I have it. I look forward to seeing everyone!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lab work over winter break

Ryan plans to be in the lab Monday, Wednesday and Friday this break.  Should you want to come, please e-mail him and respond to the questions on the first post of the blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Years!

And with it, our next step in the project.  Now that the feastivities of the winter holidays wrap up, it becomes apparent that we may soon have a more organized schuduel for activities before spring semester starts again (not including an interview down at the farm with Motor Week, probably on January 12th).  (If anyone has a problem with that date, please contact Mike.)

In the area of supplies, the Chicken Basket is in the process of negotiating our use of their oil, in return for a split of the resultant biodiesel.  Mr. Hunt is looking into blending the rest with heating oil and running it through the furnace for the winter.

Our luck in terms of real estate is a little more interesting- it looks like business for the farm is going well enough that the room we are currently using may be turned into stalls for several more horses, so we may have a new facility coming soon.  Whether the new set up will include a(n) (Lewis) acid catalyzed reactor is, as of yet, unclear.

Happy New Years!