Now there is something better you can do with that viscous mess of cooking oil instead of sequestering it in a can or pouring it down the drain. The UK-based company Biobot offers the Biobot 20, a tabletop processor that converts household oil waste into something a bit more useful. The Biobot 20 helps small producers refine their excess vegetable oils into fatty-acid methyl ester (FAME) through a conversion process known as transesterification. Close to carbon-neutral, biodiesel is a great way to become independent of the fossil fuel industry and take transportation into your own hands.
[youtube width=”537″ height=”402″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH8Yi-7DWCk[/youtube]
The Biobot 20 has a capacity of 20 liters for each batch. Oil is poured into the reaction chamber, and heated while it is agitated with a hand mixer. Once at temperature, the oil is tested with a provided kit to see if it contains the right amount of free fatty acids as well as determining the right amount of sodium hydroxide catalyst you need. The catalyst is then added to four liters of dry methanol, and mixed until it dissolves and forms sodium methoxide which is stored in a tank and pumped into the reaction chamber.
Oil is again heated and agitated, usually taking 12-24 hours to process. By that time, glycerin has accumulated at the bottom of the tank, and is drained off. The remaining compound is biodiesel that can be added to your gas tank. For cleanup, the Biobot 20 comes equipped with a water spray mister at the top of the tank to help wash the reaction chamber and clear the valves.
The whole contraption costs about $655 USD. The personal value of the Biobot 20 probably depends on the amount of time you can dedicate to creating your own fuel and how much grease your household produces. Four liters of methanol required for refinement costs $3.50 and the sodium hydroxide runs for $0.50. The veggie oil is basically free, so a yield of 15 liters will end up totaling $1 a gallon. Better than current fuel prices and more environmentally friendly, the Biobot may help fuel the alternative transportation revolution.