Interests in Appropriate Technology[edit | edit source]
I believe that technology should be used intelligently. To quote my old football coach, we should not be "going through the motions". That is to say why don't we use energy resources and technology that are specific to one area and not one size fits all. I have a huge interest in energy, that is renewable energy, and well that is why I am doing my project at Footprint Recycling, a biodiesel manufacturer.
Experience in Appropriate Technology[edit | edit source]
My experience is basic, that is I enjoy the simple things in life.. Bikes foremost, are a passion of mine and I enjoy taking them apart and putting back together as much as I enjoy riding them. I also have experience harnessing the wind to get around, in sail boats. I have played around with vegetable oil conversions for diesel engines, and gravity feed water plumbing systems. I hope to learn more, and more.
Footprint Recycling Internship[edit | edit source]
My project this Semester (spring 2007) in the ENGR305 course will be an internship with Footprint Recycling. They are an Arcata, California Company that makes biodiesel from used vegetable oil. I will be "working" roughly 65 hours this semester at Footprint. My internship will cover various projects around the facility. I will be working with Mikey the maintenance man. We will be doing everything from big and small projects around the operation. Update 4/17/08: I have spent weeks helping install plumbing, cutting steel, collecting tallow, cleaning stuff, nailing wood, and more detail jobs..
MY PROJECTS DURRING THE INTERNSHIP[edit | edit source]
Wash Tank[edit | edit source]
I worked on the final touches of the new wash tank, a mulit-thousand gallon former brewerie tank. This allowed me to see how the inside of the wash process works. I also took on the task of cutting the legs off the tank to later add extensions. This was done with an oxyacetline torch, of which is a new skill for me. I played around with the plumbing quite a bit connecting many galvanized cast iron 2’’ pipe fittings to create manual valves and nozzles for hose attachment used to test and move product to different tanks.
Tallow[edit | edit source]
I spent one morning collecting tallow at local grocery stores. Footprint makes tallow runs weekly, and gets between 30-55 gallons of animal scrapings per store. This was a different perspective on the role that the biodiesel manufacturer must play in the community, and a side effect of wanting and getting the waste Vegetable oil . This tallow is kept in a refrigerated truck bed and when full sent to a rendering facility.
Cleaning[edit | edit source]
Kept to a minimum, I only pressure washed once. This is another side effect of biodiesel’s role in the business community. They have the capacity and facilities to clean out hops/grain drums for a great local brewery. From this I got a broader perspective of the details that go into biodiesel production.
Fuel from Waste: to obtain oil from sludge grease[edit | edit source]
One of the projects that I was asked to do is to create a collection funnel to pour 55 gallon drums of oil into a large tank. This tank will separate the food particles, water, oil and other contaminates. The oil from this will be used to run the boiler. It was chosen to use an old bathtub as the funnel device. We cut welded and nailed all kinds of alterations to this pretty bathtub and mounted it atop the tank, roughly 10 feet high. It was secured in place, first test run worked. That is it did not fall crashing down, but the oil sludge was too thick to pass through the gravity fed filter grate. We’re going to re-evaluate. Needed is a way to get the oil through while the food chunks stay out. Ideas?
One proposed idea was to have a centrifuge style filter, however more details will be needed to progress from here.
The Boiler was installed durring the week of 4/20/08. The current issue now it to get the fuel system working and hook up. [Durring this time of Boiler transition, the Biodiesel supply has run out. People are seeking the old source for diesel engines again, in Diesel #2 fuel.] The funnel we placed on top of the settleing tank is going to work for now, and many more hours were spend attching a filtering system for the fuel, and a holing tank. A concern is that once the fuel is derived and filtered, it must be hot so that its viscosity allows it to cruise through the 1/4 inch injection house to the boiler itself. This is around the time that Mikey showed his extra ordinary brilliance once again. To keep the tank hot, we set out wraping every exposed line, filter and inch of surface with heater hose. Fifty feet were used just wrapping around and around the exposed line in a small, 2x2 area. Once the heater hose was attached, the insulation was put to work, wrapping everything with a nice coat to keep it hot. Another idea that Mikey came up with was to have a large mass of fuel in the fuel line so the mass will help to prevent heat loss. This leads to the 2 inch fuel line tapering to a 1/4 injection line just before the injectors. Looks like it might just work after all.
my roles as far as these projects went were to help get things done. I did a lot of attaching fittings for the hose's, wrapping insulation, even played with compression fittings a bit too. Me and Mikey came up with, and put the top bathtub funnel in place, using our combined genius's the bathtub slowly transformed into a grease directing machine.
This whole project is a large step for Footpring Recycling. The old boiler was on its last leg, literely and a new reliable boiler is a nessisary item. In addition the boiler itself runs off the waist of the Used veggie oil collected. Previously thought to be un salvagable, they are continueing to find ways to become more efficient and sustainable.
Criteria/Goals[edit | edit source]
- learn the process of biodiesel manufacturing
- understand the hardships and challenges of commercial production
- economic effects of local fuel production
- emissions of combusted fuel
- alternatives uses for used veggie oil
- byproducts produced