Wednesday, June 25, 2008

End of the year celebration

We showed off our Fat to Fuel car at the NGHS end of the year celebration. It was great to share our project with so many other students, faculty and other members of the community. We demonstrated the car and when we switched it from diesel to WVO there was a clear consensus that the exhaust smelled a bit like a Chinese restaurant. In our experience the oil from Chinese restaurants has been the cleanest and least contaminated by animal fats and other impurities. You can see the brochure holder attached to the side of the car. We gave away almost all of them to interested visitors.

Here are some of the most common questions we received:

Q: How can I do this to my car so it can run on waste veggie oil?
A: You can only do this type of conversion on a diesel vehicle, so unless you have a diesel you'd need a different car.

Q: Did you guys really do the conversion? Does it work?
A: Of course we did, and of course it does! Can't you smell the egg rolls?

Q: How is this better for the environment?
A: Using WVO in a vehicle is basically a form of recycling. One advantage is that the waste veggie oil (WVO) produces less overall pollution than petroleum based diesel fuel. The other major advantage is that WVO is practically carbon neutral. Since the plants it comes from have absorbed carbon from the air as they grew, burning the WVO just cycles the carbon back into the atmosphere to be absorbed by more plants. Burning petroleum based diesel burns carbon which has been safely stored under ground for millions of years, adding to the overall amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Q: What kind of mileage do you get?
A: We haven't run the car enough to calculate it, but other people who have installed similar WVO systems have calculated that they drive about 100 miles on each gallon of diesel fuel. You only need to run the car on diesel until the engine and WVO tank heat up, and then you can switch to pure WVO.

Q: Why don't all cars run on this?
A: The problem is that there really isn't enough waste vegetable oil around to feed our voracious appetite for oil to run our cars. This type of waste veggie oil (WVO) system could be used in many vehicles though. For example, a company which owns lots of restaurants or food processing factories might be able to use oil from their own fryers to power their fleet of trucks.

Mr. Jose DeLaGarza, one of our building engineers, was instrumental in making this project happen smoothly. Thank you Mr. DeLaGarza!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Finished Mural

Our mural shows how we recycle used vegetable oil to run our car.

If you look at the hood, you can see what is under the hood, allowing the car to run on WVO.

First, energy from the sun is converted to chemical energy by photosynthesis. Crops like corn and soy use photosynthesis to absorb carbon dioxide from the air as they grow.

The corn and soy are pressed into oil and used in local restaurants.

We collect the oil and filter all the crumbs and impurities out so they don't clog the diesel engine. The oil is filtered 4 times through 400 micron, 100 micron, 30 micron, and 15 micron filters.

And that clean oil is what goes into the 15 gal. WVO tank that is mounted in the back of our Benz.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The mural

We are painting the car to show people how it works. One side is full of flowers to illustrate that the Veggie Oil Car is better for the environment than regular cars. The other side of the car shows the energy flow from corn to fryer oil to filtered oil to the WVO tank of our vehicle. The mural on the hood shows the engine modifications we made to convert the car to run on WVO (waste vegetable oil.)


We got to show off the car to an auditorium full of students and instructors from After School Matters. We did a presentation about how the filtration unit works and how energy flows from the sun to plants which are converted to oil and then filtered to run our WVO vehicle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!!

We are celebrating Earth Day 2008 by painting the mural on our Veggie Oil Vehicle.

We finished the conversion last week and tested it out. Everything ran great. We still need to install a temperature sensor (a digital oven thermometer we bought at Target) and do a bit more testing of the car to make sure all systems work at full heat.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd.

What are you doing for Earth Day?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Where should we display our car?

We are planning to display our veggie oil vehicle at the following places. Please comment on them and give us some ideas of other places we should bring our car to teach people about the benefits of Waste Veggie Oil vehicles.

• Downtown
• Other High Schools, elementary schools, junior high
• Museums
• Zoo
• Six Flags
• The Beach
• Navy Pier
• Millenium Park
• Garfield Park
• Humboldt Park
• Kelvin Park
• Palmer square festival
• Chinatown
• Taste of Chicago
• Kiddie Land (Melrose Park)
• Pilsen, 26th street
• Buffets
• Forest Preserve
• Rock and Roll McDonalds
• Church Block party Gap Center
• Cinco de Mayo parade
• Puerto Rican Parade (June 11?)
• Logan Square Farmers Market
• Malls
• North Grand Carnival (Last day of School)
• Fullerton Beach

Thanks from the students of the ASM Biodiesel program

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Skinny on our Neighborhood Restaurants' Fat

We were originally planning to use the waste vegetable oil from our school cafeteria's deep fryers. In a move to improve the nutritional value of our school lunches, though, CPS stopped using deep fryers and started using baked fries. Fortunately for our project, there is no shortage of used veggie oil in our neighborhood. We have begun collecting oil from our school culinary arts department (Thanks Mr. Chatman) as well as some local restaurants. You can view a Google Map of our neighborhood restaurant partners. We are especially grateful to El Taconazo, Lees Garden and Carnicerias Jimenez for their help and support.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

today - By Jr. Santa

today we went to pick up some waste veggie oil so we can filter it and put it into a car

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The car we will be converting

This is the 1980 Mercedes Benz 300TD Wagon we have purchased and will be converting to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO).

It runs well, but needs a little work on the suspension and has a bit of rust on the underside.

What? Energy in a peanut?

By burning a peanut we release its chemical energy. We can measure this by noting how much the burning peanut can increase the temperature of 50ml of water. The photo above shows shows the calorimetry set-up we used to measure the energy in a peanut.

The experiment wasn't perfect though, because we didn't have a way to measure the mass of the smoke released and we lost some heat to the air and the calorimeter itself.

In order to figure out how much energy there is per mass we used electronic balances to get the mass of the peanuts before and after burning.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


How can we run a car on vegetable oil? Since the hydrocarbon chains for diesel fuel and for vegetable oil are simmilar a diesel engine should run on clean veggie oil.

We drew 2-d models of molecules and built 3-d models of hydrocarbons and compared them. Once we built the models and drew the diagrams it was easy to see how veggie oil could run a diesel car.