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How to Make Biodiesel From Algae

While awareness of biodiesel and running diesel engines on vegetable oil is growing, you still have to get the oil from somewhere. The conventional choice is to buy vegetable oil, or take used vegetable oil from a restaurant. However, there is another possibility: Produce your own oil, with algae.

Algae

Algae are a form of "simple," photosynthetic, and aquatic organisms. The most complex forms of algae are commonly called "seaweed," though algae range in size and complexity from unicellular forms to this more advanced form. They are called "simple" because they lack many complex features found in land plants. The most useful feature of algae for our purposes is that algae produce significant quantities of natural oils. In fact, there are estimates that the yield from algae can be 200 times greater than that from a comparable area of other sources of conventional vegetable oils.

Algal Oils

Oil from algae is quite similar to oils produced by conventional oil crops and oilseeds. Chemists generally do not speak of oil, which is a common word for a vaguely defined group of chemicals. Biological "oils," or lipids, are chemicals called triglycerides, composed of a central glycerol unit with three fatty acids attached. Chemically, biological lipids are similar to petroleum to the extent that both groups of chemicals are based on carbon and hydrogen.

The main problem with using biological lipids as fuels is the fact that lipids are much more viscous (or resistant to "flowing," in layman's terms) than the refined petrochemicals which make up gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and other petroleum-based fuels. As a result, unrefined lipids will not be completely burned off in an engine, and leftover product which did not burn can accumulate in the engine.

Biodiesel from Algae Oil

The process of making biodiesel from oil is all about lowering the viscosity of oil by removing the glycerol; the process of converting algal oils is the same as that with any conventional vegetable oils. Chemists refer to this process as "transesterification," which in the case of biodiesel means splitting the triglycerides, separating the glycerol, which will settle, and converting the fatty acids into a solution of methyl esters, called biodiesel. This is done by mixing the biological oil with sodium methoxide.

Cultivating Algae

Algae can be cultivated at home using a device known as a "photobioreactor," or a bioreactor which includes a source of light. A basic reactor can be made from clear plastic tubes or plastic bottles or a plastic container of some sort. Algae need water, carbon dioxide, and light to grow; the reactor will contain water into which has been placed a culture of algae. Depending on the type of reactor chosen, algae can be cultivated continuously or in batches. The light source can be an LED, a phosphorescent bulb, or natural sunlight.

Getting Oil from the Algae

The making of biodiesel involves a number of separation processes, even more so in the case of biodiesel from algae: separating the algae from the solution, separating the oil from the algae, and separating the glycerol from the biodiesel after the reaction is complete. All of these separation processes can be done simply with a centrifuge.

Conclusions

While even biodiesel isn't quite a free lunch, getting biodiesel from algae can bring you one step closer. The product you get from algae-produced biodiesel is equivalent to that you get from other oils and the conversion of algal oil is the same as the conversion of any other oil; the algae are simply a renewable source of oil. Algae are quite safe, being commonly used in commercial products including food.

This article was written by Pamella Neely from bestlogcabinkits.com.

Image credited to: http://www.cincitdi.com/node?page=5

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posted by zaki yamani @ 8:23 PM, , links to this post

Reduce Cholesterol By Lowering Your Trans Fat Intake

Before you read, I just want to let you know that there is no chemical engineering stuffs inside this article. I just posted this article as a reminder for me, my family and all of you. Let's live healthily.

Recently we can observe occasionally people died from heart attack. One of the main reason for this is due to the cholesterol inside the blood. I'm very much concern about this nowadays and have been taking some steps in further understanding what food to consume and which to avoid.

Believe it or not, much of the processed food that we eat today will have some form of trans fat in them. Trans fats give more taste to a food and act as a preservative to certain foodstuffs ensuring that they have a longer shelf life. Thus they appeal to the consumer and the retailer of foodstuffs and have been phenomenally successful in the food industry. It is only in the last 20 years that research has concluded that Trans fats have detrimental affects on our health and can lead to high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease. In many countries there are moves to limit or ban the use of trans fats in food. This article will discuss what trans fats are and how reducing them will lead to lowering cholesterol levels.

Trans fat was developed in the early 20th century by hydrogenating plant oil. Hydrogenation is formed by injecting hydrogen into oil to partially solidify it. This changes the characteristics of the oil, meaning that it has a higher melting point and does not oxidize as rapidly. Trans fat is easier and cheaper to produce than an equivalent fat that comes from an animals.

In terms of cholesterol, trans fat is thought to lower the amount of high density lipoproteins (HDL), sometimes referred to as 'good cholesterol'. Lipoproteins are responsible for transporting cholesterol through the blood stream. The 'good cholesterol' or HDL are thought to transport cholesterol to the liver where it is excreted as bile. If your HDL is lower, it cannot perform this vital function. Trans fat also raises your low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels or 'bad cholesterol'. This LDL is responsible for excess plaque buildup in your arteries which can cause decreased blood flow to the major organs and high blood pressure. Excess plague on the walls of the arteries can break free and cause blockages. A block in blood reaching vital organs like the brain or heart can lead to strokes or heart attacks.

You should avoid food that have trans fats in. Read the labels of all the foodstuffs that you buy. I do this whenever I do grocery shopping with my wife. Check out if they have trans fat in them. If they do not list the trans fat look for partially hydrogenated oil, that is another name for trans fat on food labels

Get to know the types of foods that contain or use trans fats. Popular food that use trans fats in cooking are cakes, biscuits and cookies. Other things include dough nuts, microwave popcorn and many deep fried foods from take aways.

If you have high cholesterol you will be advised to try to eat fresh food in your diet. The less processed food the better. It's tough because we are very much used to eating processed food but we need to try. I know this because I'm struggling to eat fresh food - fruits and vegetables. However, this should be applied to everyone not just people trying to reduce cholesterol levels. Eat more lean meats, fish, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Following a non-trans fat diet will help to lower your cholesterol. A positive by-product of following such a diet will be that you eat healthier and fresher food.

Let's live a better and healthy live... ;)

Image credited to: http://www.salmonellablog.com/2005/11/articles/salmonella-watch/vegetables-fruits-cause-more-food-illnesses/

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posted by zaki yamani @ 7:56 PM, , links to this post

Manufacturing Engineering Jobs

The role played by manufacturing engineering is crucial for the functioning of any company or organization. They play a key part in production, planning and scheduling of the tasks and manufacturing of the key components. This stream of engineering is certainly a good stream to select for, as it enables one to get the coveted engineering degree in a slightly different specialization and there are several job openings in this field too. The entire production process is controlled by the manufacturing engineering department.

Qualifications:

The basic degree that one needs to get is a B.Tech or B.E in manufacturing engineering or mechanical engineering. The person often starts their career in the form of a GET (Graduate Engineer Trainee) and gains experience in the complete engineering cycle. This includes materials, inventory, analysis and production control. Then they become the Superintendent Engineer at the highest rung of the ladder. Several engineers enhance their career opportunities by doing higher studies in the stream of management subjects and moving on to a more strategic role in the Manufacturing cycle.

Demand:

The career prospects for manufacturing engineering is really bright. There is not much competition in this sector and the manufacturing industry is always is need of new engineers. Most of the companies, Small and Medium Enterprises and the Public Sector Units have a requirement for them. The industries in which the manufacturing engineers can find jobs in are food processing, pharmaceuticals, automobile manufacturing, aerospace, electronic and defense sectors. There is also a huge demand in the chemical engineering, heavy engineering, textiles and printing industry.

Future Prospects:
The job prospects are extremely bright for manufacturing engineers. Those who learn the subjects well can then move on to the consultation sector. Manufacturing jobs gives a career which is insightful and gives the opportunity to excel.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 8:12 PM, , links to this post

The Author

zyz

I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!


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