Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wrapping up for the Semester

As the semester winds down we have a number of issues to comment on.

Thus far, we have been unsuccessful in producing biodiesel using the microreactor technology. Currently we have sent a sample to a testing facility; we believe that, since TLC is a relatively imperfect testing method, that we may have generated a percentage of biodiesel in our product which we are unable to detect.

We have been conducting exhaustive tests, as stated previously, on the variables relevant to our experiment in a process of elimination to discern where our process is wrong. As the batch tests conducted by previous experiment have shown, when these substances (soy oil and methanol) react in the presence of nickel oxide they produce biodiesel. One solution that seems extremely probable (and difficult to test) is that there is simply not enough surface area in the microreactor with which the reactants can come into contact with. However, we are ensuring that there can be no other possibility of failure.

On a more positive note, the solar aspect of the project has been shown to successfully run the experiment. Based on calculations of power and the picture of the wave generated by the solar cell, the solar panel we have is actually larger than needed to run the Green Machine. This is favorable as there is a non-negligible power loss when converting the DC current of the solar cell into the AC current needed by the pump and heater to work at the moment.

As we prepare for the presentation for the IAB, we are ensuring that no stone is left unturned, even considering how the Green Machine would work and be designed should the microreactors yield biodiesel.

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