Nez Perce Tribe - 1995 Project
|Tribe/Awardee:||Nez Perce Tribe|
|Project Title:||Biodiesel Pilot Project|
|Type of Application:||Feasibility|
|DOE Grant Number:||DE-FG48-95R810568|
|Project Status:||Completed More|
In October 1995, the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho's Department of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management (ERWM) received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a pilot plant for the production of "biodiesel," a biological alternative to #2 petroleum diesel fuel.
In February 1996, a project director and a technician were hired to begin the project. A 1996 Dodge diesel pickup was ordered and the necessary tanks, pumps, and other production equipment were purchased. The new personnel attended training sessions at the University of Idaho, and the project officially began. In planning the project, it was decided that used cooking oils from local restaurants would be used as the main stock for the esterification process that would create the fuel used in the project. It was also decided that since the universities had thoroughly researched the actual esters that were used as fuel, the tribe would focus on actual demonstrations to and education of local communities as to the viability of this alliterative fuel. The reactor system was built, the pilot plant was set up, and fuel production began.
For the demonstration portion of the project, a partnership with Lewiston Parks and Recreation was formed. The project supplied fuel for use in a Yanmar mower/snow blower and a Ford tractor mower. The tribe supplied a 1997 Chevrolet Suburban diesel vehicle and a Dodge diesel purchased by the grant as test vehicles. The Suburban was run 7,500 miles on a mixture of 50% biodiesel and 50% #2 petroleum diesel. The Dodge pickup was run 36,492 miles on straight biodiesel. Lewiston Parks and Recreation was supplied with 750 gallons of biodiesel that was run straight in the two mowers. The results of these demonstrations were very satisfactory. Of the two new vehicles that ran on the biodiesel, no problems were encountered. Oil analysis showed no detrimental residues or chemical build up when compared to oil analysis of comparative vehicles that are operated on standard petroleum diesel. Because no problems were encountered, the engines of these vehicles were not dismantled for internal inspections.
Again, since universities and other various agencies have researched and tested these esters with no significant problems, it was decided internal engine inspection was not needed. In the case of the industrial equipment used by Lewiston Parks and Recreation, the only problem reported was a fuel filter plugging that could not be linked directly to the fuel. Oil analysis of the engine oils actually tested cleaner and with less contaminants than did tests run on comparative machines operated on petroleum diesel. Dynamometer tests run on the Dodge pickup showed a slight power loss when compared to tests run on a petroleum diesel operated vehicle. Fuel mileage for the two vehicles was slightly less on biodiesel than on petroleum diesel when the vehicles were operated at or slightly above the 55 mph speed limits and with no loads in the vehicles. Overall, we were very pleased with these results.
Another objective was met through the use of seminars and tribal meetings. Presentations were made at Orlando, Fla., during the "Ecoinformia" conference, at Nashville, Tenn., during the "Bioenergy 96" conference, at several tribal meetings and through the use of public articles published in several local papers. This has resulted in a lot of inquiries as to the feasibility of setting up a small-scale commercial operation. The Nez Perce Tribe is especially interested in this aspect of the project.
During the project life, 2,824 gallons of biodiesel were produced. The average cost per gallon was $2.74. This cost makes commercial fuel production impractical. However, by utilizing existing agricultural lands to grow oil seed crops, it may be possible for tribes to produce this fuel for special ecological niches. The only physical problem that was encountered in production and use of the fuel was that the biodiesel made from used cooking oils tend to gel at a higher than normal temperature. This was overcome through the use of additives that prevented high temperature gelling.
Goals and Objectives
This project had four main objectives. These were: 1) to develop a pilot plant for the production of biodiesel from vegetable oil or animal fat; 2) to demonstrate the application of biodiesel technology in stationary and mobile diesel engines; 3) to train and educate Nez Perce people on bio-fuels production; and 4) to transfer a simple pollution prevention technology to the indigenous peoples of this country.
Project Actions and Resultant Data
The use of vegetable oil as an alternative fuel research began at the University of Idaho in 1979. Since then, researchers at the University of Idaho have pioneered the use of vegetable oil, particularly rapeseed oil, as a diesel fuel substitute. Short term testing of vegetable oils in neat (straight vegetable oil) form quickly showed that neat oils would cause injector coking and ring sticking because of fast carbon buildup. This experience led to the development of an oil modification process called transesterification.
Animal fats, fish oils, vegetable, and seed oils are usually triglycerides or fatty acids of glycerol. They have the following notation:
where R1, R2, and R3 represent the hydrocarbon chain of the fatty acid and could be the same, depending on the type of vegetable or fish oil. The differences show up in the chain length and number of double bonds. Commonly encountered fatty acids in plant materials are lauric, palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and erucic acid. These fatty acids contain 12-22 carbon chain lengths and zero to three double bonds. The double bond represents the unsaturated state of the oil. Coconut and palm oils are examples of triglycerides that have a high content of saturated fatty acids. Examples of unsaturated fatty acids would include linseed and rapeseed oils.
Transesterification is a process in which triglycerides and alcohol react in the presence of a catalyst resulting in the production of glycerol and fatty acid esters.
CH2OOC-R1 + 3 CH30H → CH2OH + CH300C-R1
CHOOC-R2 + 3 CH30H → CHOH + CH300C-R2
CH2OOC-R3 + 3 CH30H → CH2OH + CH300C-R3
The resulting esters have been proven to be a good alliterative fuel. Studies conducted by the University of Idaho indicate that rapeseed methyl esters perform comparably to #2 petroleum diesel (Jo, 1984; Peterson, et al, 1985; Madsen, 1985; Melville, 1987; Mosgrove, 1987; Zhang, et al, 1988; and Perkins, et al, 1991).
The project's first objective was to develop a pilot plant for the production of biodiesel from vegetable oil or animal fat. On Feb. 15, 1996, office space and equipment was rented from the Nez Perce Tribe ERWM. At this same time, a building was rented in which the plant was to be built. In March, the components for the plant were ordered from various suppliers and contractors. These components consisted of a 405 gallon stainless steel tank, an 8-by-8 foot wheeled cart for mounting the plant, various explosion proof fluid pumps, a mixer system, a catalyst/alcohol mixing tank, and various items for plumbing and electrical hookups.
This pilot plant is capable of producing 300 gallons of biodiesel every other day. This was a much larger capacity than this project could use. With the completion of this plant, fuel production began. Since it was decided to use used oils as a feedstock, a source of oil was procured and samples of the oil were analyzed.
After determining the amount of KOH catalyst needed to react as much of the oil as possible, production began. The formula developed for this process was:
100 ml oil / 22 ml MeOH / 1.4 gof KOH
After this phase of the project was completed, the first objective had been meet.
The second objective of the project was to demonstrate the application of biodiesel technology through the actual use of biodiesel in vehicles and industrial engines. This was accomplished by purchasing a 1996 Dodge 3/4-ton diesel pickup. Also used in the demonstration was a 1997 Chevrolet Suburban diesel, two Ford tractor mowers, and two Yanmar mower/snow blower systems. Dynamometer tests were run on the 1996 Dodge pickup both on #2 petroleum diesel and biodiesel made from used oil stock. Oil analyses were run on the Dodge pickup, the Yanmar mower/snow blowers, and the Ford tractors. Fuel mileage tests were done on the Dodge pickup and the Chevrolet Suburban.
The power curves for petrodiesel and biodiesel were very similar, with some small differences in how quickly the petrodiesel reached peak power verses the biodiesel. It was also noted that the biodiesel power dropped off quicker than the petrodiesel. However, as shown later in the fuel mileage graph, the peak performance of the biodiesel occurred within the normal cruising range of the average diesel vehicle.
The oil analyses of all units sampled were averaged and only those showing contamination differences were plotted on this graph. All oil contaminants were within average levels. However, the oils used in the biodiesel engines contained less contamination than did that in standard #2 petroleum diesel. Fuel mileages were also similar, with the most difference noted in how quickly fuel consumption increased as speed increased past the optimum speeds of 55 to 65 mph when using the biodiesel.
Smoke density tests were the only exhaust tests that could be done in the local area. Any other tests would have had to be done out of state and at expenses beyond the scope of this project. However, once again, the graph shows the advantages of biodiesel over petrodiesel in pollutant emissions.
The total life of this project was 15 months. The vehicles were used and tested during the last 12 months of this time period. During this time, 36,492 miles were put on the biodiesel pickup, and 7,500 miles were put on the Chevrolet Suburban. Each of the Yanmar mowers logged more than 200 hours, and the Ford tractors logged 235 and 251 hours. During this test, no problems that could be traced to the use of biodiesel or biodiesel mixes were experienced. However, one of the Yanmar units experienced fuel filter plugging that could have been biodiesel related.
This demonstration and testing fulfilled the requirements of Objective 2 of this project.
The third objective of this project was to train and educate the Nez Perce People on bio-fuels production. This objective was accomplished through several avenues. Part of this training occurred through actual hands-on experience by several tribal members. They were involved in the actual gathering of raw materials and in physically making the biodiesel product. A second method of educating the Nez Perce People was by presenting project status reports to various tribal councils and by participating in environmental programs that dealt not only with the Nez Perce, but with the general public as well. Presentations were also made in several of the local district schools. These presentations consisted of lectures on the background of the project, overhead presentations, and fuel production demonstrations on a small scale. Smoke opacity demonstrations were also done to demonstrate the difference in petrodiesel particulate pollution and biodiesel emissions.
Another method used to reach and educate the general public in the area was through the use of the local newspapers and radio stations. Several advertisements were run informing people of the project and interviews were given to local radio station representatives. Also used as an outreach source was the Tots-Ta-Token, the local tribal newspaper. Along with these local outreach efforts, the project and updates were being presented to the participants of two nationwide conferences held in Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla. This completed the third objective of the project.
The fourth and final objective of this project was to transfer this simple pollution prevention technology to the indigenous people of this country. This is an ongoing objective. It can only be reached through example. The Nez Perce Tribe is proceeding with this by currently studying the feasibility of building a full-scale production system and marketing biodiesel at the local gas pump. Business plans are being developed. The current plans call for installing storage facilities, setting up processing facilities, developing marketing strategies, and developing a used oil collection and storage system that will allow the Nez Perce Enterprises to produce and sell environmentally healthy biodiesel. Along with this, study is being given to plans that would create a tribal farm that would allow the use of tribal agricultural lands, hire tribal people as labor force, and result in oil seed crop production that can be used as a stock for biodiesel.
Results, Conclusions, Findings, and Recommendations
In conclusion, the Nez Perce tribe felt the project was a complete success. All the objectives were met and the results were very satisfactory. The process was introduced to the Nez Perce People and the surrounding communities, a pollution prevention technology was demonstrated, and awareness was raised as to the possibilities of commercial production of this bio-fuel. An added bonus was in the recycling of used cooking oils. In developing the process and doing the demonstrations, many businesses were contacted and it was found there is a large supply of used cooking oils that need to be disposed of. This process is a unique way to reuse this oil and to produce an environmentally safe energy source that can be used in any diesel burning power unit.
The Nez Perce Tribe is now seeking funds to further this project. The tribe feels that this is a technology that should be utilized as much as possible. It has been discussed and the possibilities are endless.
For current project status or additional information, contact the project contacts.
Nez Perce Tribe
PO Box 365
Lapwai, ID 83540
Telephone: (208) 843-7375