Biodiesel Terminology

Anhydrous: Without water, dry.

Biodiesel: A fuel that is comprised of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids and is derived from vegetable oils or animal fats. Biodiesel is a strong organic solvent and cleansing agent.

Biodiesel Recipe: A prescription or directions detailing the ratios of alcohol, oil and catalyst used in making biodiesel.

Bubble wash: A method of removing water soluble impurities by bubbling air in water below Biodiesel.

Catalyst: A substance that accelerates the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the reaction. In Biodiesel production NaOH and KOH comprise the catalyst for transesterification.

Esters: A product of the reaction of acids (usually organic) and the alcohols.  
Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) are the product of the reaction of the methanol and long chain fatty acids and are commonly called Biodiesel.

Esterfication: The process of attaching an alcohol molecule to a free Fatty Acid. The acid process for making biodiesel uses esterfication.

Ethyl Ester: Biodiesel made using Ethyl Alcohol

Feedstock: In Biodiesel the feedstock is vegetable oil

Free Fatty Acids (FFA) : Fatty acids not attached to alcohol molecules like glycerine in Vegetable oil or methanol in biodiesel. In the single stage base method of making biodiesel. FFA's are converted to soap. In an acid esterfication stage the FFA is converted directly to biodiesel.

Glycerol: Chemical Formula: C3H803- also known as glycerine. It is an alcohol and is found in animal and plant fats and oils (Glycerides). Glycerol is a byproduct of Biodiesel production. It is used in wide variety of products from antifreeze to fabrics.

Lye: Common term for Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)

Methanol: Chemical Formula: CH3OH- also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol. It is the most common alcohol used for transesterification of WVO  into Biodiesel.

Methyl Ester: An acid combined with methyl Alcohol. Methyl Esters made from long chain Fatty Acids are commonly called Biodiesel.

Methoxide: Sodium Methoxide or Sodium Methylate is a chemical made by dissolving Sodium Metal in methanol and is sometimes used in commercial biodiesel production. In home-brewing it is commonly used to refer to the mixture of sodium Hydroxide and methanol or the mixture of Potassium Hydroxide and Methanol.

Mist wash: A method of removing water soluble impurities by spraying a fine mist of water over the top of an open container of biodiesel. As the small droplets of water fall into and through the biodiesel they attract water soluble impurities and collect at the bottom of the tank. 

Processor: (Reactor) The vessel used to hold the WVO, methanol and catalyst while it chemically reacts and changes WVO into biodiesel.

Transesterification: The process of exchanging one alcohol for another. The base process for making biodiesel exchanges one glycol in the triglyceride molecule for three methanol molecules each attached to a Fatty Acid (Methyl Ester or Biodiesel)


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