2013-03-11

Co.Exist

Make Your Own Biodiesel With This Handy Home Machine

The BioBot 20 lets you convert your own waste oil to fuel, but it may not be the easiest process in the world.

It’s already possible to make biodiesel at home using waste oil—if you’re interested in setting up a system that competes with Breaking Bad’s meth labs for complexity. A new, compact, British-made reactor, called the BioBot 20, attempts to simplify the process of turning oil to biodiesel by giving enthusiasts the equipment and tools they need to make it at home in their garage, in a compact reactor.

This video demonstrates how it works, and despite being probably the simplest kit out there, there’s no way to spin it: Making biodiesel seems damn complicated. First, you pour waste oil into the BioBot, then turn on the heat, then agitate it with an external wheel that looks like the helm of a ship, then you wait, and add other chemicals that you have to mix, and test the oil, and "power-wash it." All in all, the process takes several days.

The whole thing seems more like an interesting science experiment—perhaps perfect in the context of a school where students could take waste oil from the cafeteria, turn it into biodiesel, and then feed it into a janitor’s truck to see the full life-cycle.

The BioBot 20 retails for about $655, producing about 20 liters of biodiesel per batch at a price of $1 per gallon when the costs of the chemical agents used in the process are factored in (according to Gizmag.) So it’s probably only economically efficient if you have access to large amounts of free waste oil, which might be the case if you happen to run an institution, like a university, where waste oil could be used to power a fleet of vehicles.

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