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Xihana's avatar

What is the yield per mole of the combustion of (algae-based) biodiesel fuel and/or how to find it?

Asked by Xihana (17points) November 11th, 2011

I’m working on a project for my AP Chemistry class, in which my group is researching the use of algae-based biofuel for an alternative fuel. Problem is, we’re having some trouble finding data. Is anyone willing to help? We need to find the yield of combusting biodiesel, in any unit you can give us. Thank you so much!

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4 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

I’m not a chemist or a petroleum / fuels engineer, but it seems to me that the source of the fuel is immaterial. That is, if you have “a diesel-like fuel”, which you should be able to determine by comparing the otherwise known properties of what you have to standard diesel fuel, then you can predict the BTU value of the fuel, verify that experimentally, and establish the value/s you seek on your own.

Or am I missing something in your question?

Xihana's avatar

That’s pretty helpful, I think we can find a way to use that. Thank you so much! I do have one more question; the project is for a general overview of the method, but we need to show any chemical reactions or formulas that may be helpful. Besides equations for photosynthesis and the reaction formula to create this fuel, do you have any other ideas for what we may need?

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, obviously if you’re interested in establishing or proving the viability of algae-based biodiesel fuel, then you need to do an overview of the entire process: harvesting and raising the algae, providing the environment to maintain them and the energy (light) input for them to do their work, then harvesting the product that you intend to refine into fuel, the chemical reactions (and processes and equipment) necessary to do that, and compare those costs with the current (and predicted future) costs of drilling for crude oil and refining that.

In other words, it’s not enough to determine that “it can be done”, you need to show (for viability) where the break-even cost point is, and maybe make some predictions about how to improve the process or synthesize the operation to speed it up or increase the yield. You also can’t forget about waste and byproducts. You don’t want to verify a process that leaves worse pollution problems, for example, because of the process used. (Or at least you want to propose ways to address those problems.)

You may also be interested in this. I’m positively thrilled by this news, and can’t wait to see what comes of it.

Xihana's avatar

Okay, this makes a lot of sense. Thank you so, so much!

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