Biodiesel equipment hacks


[Oldman] took on a biodiesel project for some friends a few years ago. A fully operational processing rig was never achieved, but he did document some of the successful hacks he came up during the project.

The idea is to reclaim the waste oil from restaurants and burn it in your modified racing motorcycle or other mode of transportation. That makes it sound easy, but have you ever seen what happens to bacon fat after it cools? Granted, we’re talking oil from vegetable sources but the same type of coagulation presents itself. Pumping it through a processing rig becomes especially tough in the winter, and that’s why [Oldman] came up with the heated pump head on the right. It’s got three connections; two are part of a loop of copper tubing, allowing 150 degree water to be circulated to liquefy the grease. The third connection sucks up the melted oil. You also need to regulate the water content of the fuel. The inset images of a salad dressing jar are his test runs with applying vacuum to dehydrate the fuel. He learned that it needs to be heated slightly to reduce foaming. He had planned to scale up this concept to apply vacuum to fuel stored in propane tanks.

Briquette press for rocket stove fuel


[Gregory] uses a rocket stove for heating when it’s cold outside. He’s been trying out all kinds of different materials as fuel when the idea of making his own briquettes from waste materials came to mind. Obviously the project works. As you can see in the image above, he has just formed a lump of fuel using a mixture of newspaper pulp and sawdust.

The orange device with the ax handle seen in the background is his own creation. You can see the device in action in the video after the break. In the video comments he also links to a CAD file if you’re interested in building your own.

If it’s a rocket stove you’re interested in there’s always the option of building your own.

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Hybrid rocket engine uses acrylic as fuel

We are fascinated by the hybrid rocket engine which [Ben Krasnow] built and tested in his shop. It is actually using a hollow cylinder of acrylic as the fuel, with gaseous oxygen as an oxidizer. We’re already quite familiar with solid rocket propellant, but this hybrid approach is much different.

When a rocket motor using solid propellant is lit it continues to burn until all of the fuel is consumed. That is not the case with this design. The acrylic is actually burning, but if the flow of oxygen is cut off it will go out and can be ignited later. This also opens up the possibility of adjusting thrust by regulating the pressure of the oxygen feed.

[Ben] milled the test rig in his shop. It’s a fat acrylic rod through which he bored a hole. There are two aluminum plates which complete either end of the chamber. The intake has a fitting for a valve which connects to the oxygen tank. There is a nozzle on the outflow end. Check out the video after the break to see a full description. You’ll also get a look at the toll the combustion heat takes on the rig.

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Rocket propellant manufactured from old newspaper

It turns out that old newsprint can be a bit explosive; at least when it’s combined with the proper ingredients. [Markus Bindhammer] worked out a way to make solid rocket propellant from newspaper. Judging from the test footage after the break the home made engines work great!

There isn’t a long list of ingredients. In addition to newspaper you’ll need some potassium chlorate (KClO3) which serves as an oxidizer, white wood glue, and PVC pipe. The KClO3 is ground with a mortar and pestle, then run through a sieve before being combined with the wood glue. This combination is painted on the newspaper which is then rolled up with a glass rod at the center. This is allowed to harden before going into the PVC. The excess is trimmed and the whole thing is baked in a convection oven at 105 C for two hours.

If this process doesn’t suit you maybe cooking up a batch of sugar-based propellant is worth a try?

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More 555 Projects to Enjoy

We love all of the projects that are coming out for the 555 design contest, so we thought we would share a couple more that have caught our collective eye.  Have a 555 project of your own? Be sure to share it with us, and keep an eye out for the contest submission dates. Read on for a few of our project picks.

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Urine a candidate for energy independence

We thought we were supposed to have fusion-power for our DeLorean by now but it perhaps urine-power is just around the corner instead. [Gerardine Botte] has been working on creating hydrogen from urine, the world’s most abundant waste product. The voltage needed to break apart the urea atoms is less than half that of water, and the way we see it, you’ve had the added benefit of already using the water once before creating the fuel. [Gerardine] also makes the point that urine has phosphorus in it which could be another useful outcome of the process because it is needed as an agricultural fertilizer. Does this mean that you can repay your designated driver by fueling up his vehicle after a night at the bar? It’s probably better than doing the same for the battery of your cell phone.

Hackers produced the first vegetable-oil powered vehicles so we’re throwing down the challenge of producing the first pee-and-go automobile. Good luck and wash your hands when you’re done.

[Thanks Peter]

mpguino: injector level fuel montoring

[dcb] posted about his work on the mpgduino mpguino. The project uses an arduino with a LCD display to monitor fuel consumption based on vehicle speed and the pulses of the fuel injectors being fired. It’s definitely an interesting project given current fuel costs and the passive nature of the project. You can easily tap the wires needed for the monitor and remove it without voiding your warranty (not that we really care).