High School Biodiesel Brain Power

There are lots of articles being written about “home-brewed” biodiesel today but I’ve felt that most of these backyard projects getting ink are the automotive equivalent of brewing moonshine. I say this, because while the end result is probably combustible in a diesel engine, the biodiesel fuel produced is not refined and finished to any known standard.

Here’s a project worth mentioning for a variety of reasons. Technology Teacher, Michael Winters, at San Gabriel, California’s Gabrielino High School’s Tongva Technology Center began an Eco-Fuel Research Project five years ago to educate his students on the benefits of alternative fuels.

Most importantly, the project is being performed in a scientific manner with full recognition that when each sample of biodiesel fuel is complete, a fuel refined to the current ASTM standard is the result.

After designing, building and learning from their three original batch processing machines (1 liter, 14 gallon and 150 gallon), the students will soon build ten 1-liter batch processing units that will go out on loan to other science classrooms throughout the state of California.

The Eco-Fuel Research Project also has a social purpose and that is to make the students aware of energy-driven emissions and, most importantly, the impact diesel can have on improving these areas.

Finally, if we’re really lucky, their college education may be influenced and perhaps as an end result we’ll have some enlightened pro-diesel college engineering graduates 4-5-years from now.

Gale Banks Engineering is continually investing in the education of individuals necessary to support the growth and service of the burgeoning light-duty diesel marketplace in the United States. We call upon our peers within our industry to join with us in our support.

Gale Banks Engineering recently hosted Gabrielino High School’s demonstration of the manufacture of biodiesel fuel from soybeans using its 1-liter batch processing machine (shown). Left to right: Brian DuVardo (graduated; Citrus College student), Michael Winters (Technology Teacher) Adam Arce (Senior), Leneve Ong, (graduated; U.C. Berkeley student), Malcolm McLaren (Senior), Colleen Tan (Senior), Gale Banks, Losmeiya Huang (Senior)

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