biodiesel-chemistry-lesson-plan by ashrafp


									Title: Turn Grease Into Gas: Biodiesel Basics

Grade: 9-12

Length: 70 minutes

Purpose: To explore Biodiesel (what it is, how it works, and how it's made) by engaging
students in discussion and hands-on, chemistry-themed activities.

Learning Objectives (to be supported by PowerPoint):

--Learn why Biodiesel is an important alternative to petroleum diesel
--Learn how Biodiesel can be used
--Learn how different percentages of Biodiesel can be combined with conventional
  diesel fuel (B factor)
--Learn how to make Biodiesel

Introduction (2 minutes) (Slides 1-2):
This lesson plan consists of five main parts, in succession:

       Give a brief overview of learning objectives for the day
Give an introductory/intermediate lecture about Biodiesel in everyday life
         Watch a Biodiesel video: "Dirty Jobs With Mike Rowe" (Discovery Channel)
         Do Biodiesel chemistry experiment: "Making Biodiesel"
         Play a homemade "Biodiesel Catch Phrase" game to solidify terms/vocabulary

Lecture and Discussion (7 minutes) (Slides 3-4): Can anyone name a vehicle in their
community that currently runs on Biodiesel? When you see these vehicles, is there
anything in particular that you notice about them? What I notice is that cars, trucks, and
buses that run on Biodiesel sometimes produce exhaust that smells like French fries or
burning candle wax. TriMet buses in Portland also have been using Biodiesel for some
time, and you can usually recognize these buses because they have "Biodiesel" bumper
stickers on them-- keep an eye out for these stickers, and you'll notice just how many
use Biodiesel blends! Here are some photographs of people in Portland, OR, next to
their cars and vans that they have running on Biodiesel, filling up their tanks at Lovecraft
Biofuels on SE Division Street.

(Slides 5-6) In terms of makeup, conventional diesel, (the common type of diesel) is
made from the thickest, greasiest part (like the Crisco) of crude oil, also known as
petroleum. Gasoline is made with the runnier part of crude oil that isn't quite so dense
in energy. Conventional diesel poses a lot more problems on the environment than
even its sister gasoline does. U.S. Fuel Standards require many more additives for
conventional diesel than gasoline, which include 20 known carcinogenic (cancer-
causing) chemicals. In general, as fuel consumers, we should use biodiesel over
conventional diesel because when fuels made from crude oil are burned, they pollute
the air with CO2, Carbon Monoxide, and other harmful carbon emissions, as well as
airborne carbon particles that form into smog. Biodiesel emits much less carbon waste
than conventional diesel or gasoline, is relatively non-toxic once it is made, and is
completely biodegradable in a way that conventional diesel isn't. Additionally, it is
biodegradable, so it doesn't harm land and water ecosystems. Another important
difference between the two is that we cannot create conventional diesel, it has to be
drilled out of the ground. It also has to undergo a refining process called "fractional
distillation," that includes heating the crude oil up between 200° C and 350° C, which
wastes a lot of energy and pollutes the air around the factories.

(Slide 7) Biodiesel can be easily made on both the small and large scale, and here are
some pictures of industrial plants that make Biodiesel for their personal uses. It can be
used to run any diesel motor car, pickup truck, semi-truck, school bus, or public bus that
would normally run on diesel fuel. It can also be used in home and industrial heating
appliances, and to run industrial motors and engines.

(Slide 8) There have been many comparative studies recently about the pros and cons
of relying heavily on a fuel like Biodiesel that is made with large amounts of vegetable or
other oils. In order to sustain our great demand for fuel, people have said that making
Biodiesel on a grand scale would ultimately require large amounts of farm land and
strain people's ability to feed themselves. This argument is related to the recent use of
corn-based Ethanol in FlexFuels, which have been linked with a rise in food prices.
However, as you will see in the video we're going to watch, Biodiesel can be made from
waste fry oil from restaurants, not just from fresh crops that produce oils.

(Slides 9-10) The definition of Biodiesel is “fuel made by processing vegetable oils and
other fats with alcohol, making a chemical reaction that turns it into fuel. It is used either
in its pure form or as an additive to petroleum based diesel fuel (CITE)."
There are several different blends of Biodiesel and conventional diesel that are in use
today, called fuels with the "B Factor" (the B is for Biodiesel). The percentage in "B
Factor," stands for the ratio of biodiesel to conventional diesel contained in the blend.
Here is a list of common "B Factor" fuels that can be found at many gas stations across
the United States, depending on where you are:

B2 (def.): A mixture composed of 2% Biodiesel with 98% petroleum diesel
B5 (def.): A mixture composed of 5% Biodiesel with 95% petroleum diesel (the blend
that TriMet buses use in the Portland metropolitan area)
B20 (def.): A mixture composed of 20% Biodiesel with 80% petroleum diesel
B100 "Neat Biodiesel" (def.): Composed of 100% Biodiesel, which is what we will be
making today, after we watch this video from the Discovery Channel, from the series
you may have heard of, called "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe".

Video (17 minutes) (Slide 11): Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe-- How to Make Biodiesel
from Recycled Restaurant Grease
(Set up the video in advance with a Window Media Player or a Quicktime Player by
accessing this URL and downloading the full episode, then cut everything but the 17
minute Biodiesel portion at the end of the episode):

Transition (1.5 minutes): Transition to experiment activity by repeating the joke made
during the bloopers/credits of the video just in case students didn't hear it:

Question: "What do you have if you add two extra doors to a chicken coop?" Answer:
"A chicken sedan!"

Prepare for the experiment by having students clear off their tables and put backpacks
and notebooks far away from their lab area, so they do not get entangled with extension
cords. Have students form 4 separate groups of 5 at their lab tables, or assign them to
groups by counting off.

there are 25 students, form 1 group of 5 and 3 groups of 6.)

Transition (1 Minute) (Slide 12): Introducing Experiment Supplies:

Now it is time to start the experiment! Making biodiesel is much simpler than
making conventional diesel; which is why we can make here in class from fairly
common household items!

You may have noticed the supplies we have: wood alcohol which will become
methanol when mixed with the catalyst, lye (which has been historically used in
soap making, but is also a heavy-duty drain cleaner), and either new or well-
filtered used vegetable oil, as well as some very important safety supplies. Many
of these things can be found at grocery and home improvement stores. The
wood alcohol we will be using is a gas tank antifreeze available at any auto part
or hardware store. Suggested brands include “Heet” and “Pyroil.” This
equipment we've borrowed from the Chemistry labs at PSU.

Before we begin, there are some very important rules and procedures to go over
first, and I need your complete attention now!

Safety Procedures (1 Minute) (Slides 12-15):

We are going to be dealing with very small amount of lye (Sodium Hydroxide) in the
classroom today. If you touch it or come in contact with it, lye could burn your skin off,
so we have to be very serious about this stuff, and make sure that your goggles and
gloves are on at all times during the experiment. We need quiet and focus at the
beginning of this experiment, before the substances combined and become benign and
can't really hurt anyone. Let's go over the safety steps in full now, so we can begin:

1.      Make sure everyone in the class has their safety goggles on. This is a common
safety procedure required in all chemistry labs.
2.      Again, the active ingredient, the catalyst in this experiment, is a chemical known
as lye, (a.k.a.) Sodium Hydroxide. It is very a very corrosive alkaline substance. As a
safety precaution the teacher will be handing out the lye.
3.      We'll also be working with Wood alcohol, (a.k.a) Methanol. It can make you go
blind, so be careful not to drink or spill it, and make sure the corks are on the
Ehrlenmeyer flasks at all times, because the alcohol is very volatile, and we don't want
the classroom to fill up with fumes. Now that we've gone over safety, let's get started!

Activity (30 minutes): DIY Chemistry: Making Biodiesel (Slides 15-16):
Assign each group a student teacher to help students go over the steps in the activity,
with one student teacher remaining at the front of the class to weigh out the lye and
ready the methanol test. Then hand out the supplies, but the desks will already have
the magnetic swirling plates plugged in and ready for the experiment. At this time, give
each student a paper handout and make sure to tell them that they need to record their
observations during the experiment in the form of either drawings or written descriptions
in order to get participation points for the lab.

[Begin activity by instructing students to please follow these directions:]

1: put down plastic on all surfaces where chemicals will be used/ or make sure all
surfaces can be easily cleaned. Double-check that all books and book bags are
away from all of the tables where the lab will take place.
2: put safety goggles on along with safety gloves. Make sure students fully
understand that the chemicals you are dealing with have the ability to scar and
kill, and have the PSU student or teacher assigned to each student group keep a
watchful eye to make sure nothing spills and that nobody gets careless.
3: let the class know that you will only use the lowest two settings on the
blender, if you use blenders. Explain because of the caustic nature of the
chemicals we do not want to risk a spill or a splash. If the magnetic swirlers and
Ehrlenmeyer flasks with lids are being used instead, skip this step and move on
to #4. The swirlers need to be on full tilt.
4: go over the steps to using the chemical eye wash station. Also remind class
that you will be working with fuels so please no open flames.

NOTE: Before students begin, make sure there is a stirrer (little pill-shaped
magnet) placed inside of each of the four 1,000 mL Ehrlenmeyer flask that will be
the vessel to hold first the Methanol, then the Methanol + Oil = Biodiesel, in each
group. Without this stirrer, the swirlers will not work!!! Another job of the student
teachers in each group is to make sure, while swirling, that the magnets stay
centered. If blenders are used, make sure ahead of time that they do not leak,
have tight-fitting lids, and have control dials with a "Low" blend setting.

                              Steps for Making Biodiesel:
5: Have one person from each group go to the front of the class to measure 100
Milliliters of wood alcohol (Heet) from the master bottle into their group's 1,000
mL Ehrlenmeyer flask. (Make sure cap on is put back on the Heet and the cork
is put back on the Ehrlenmeyer flask afterward).
6: Carefully take Methanol up to the front of the class (while student is wearing
gloves and goggles) in order for the lye to be dropped in by a teacher.
7: With the spoon, have the student teacher at the front of the class weigh out
1.75 grams of lye on the scale, one for each group. (Make sure cap to the
container of lye is put back on)
8: Blend softly on the first setting if a blender is being used, and on the 400
setting if the swirler is being used. If the swirler is being used, turn the heat up to
35 degrees C.
9: Blend for 10 minutes. The liquid will be one solution, with no lye grains
10: Measure out 1/2 Liter of Vegetable Oil into a measuring cup, beaker, or
Ehrlenmeyer flask. Turn the blender/swirler heat and power off momentarily, and
then carefully pour the Vegetable Oil into the Methanol and lye solution in the
blender or swirler to make sure there is no splashing or spillage. (Make sure cap
to the swirling Ehrlenmeyer flask is put back on.)
11: Blend on the first or second setting if it is in a blender, and on speed 400-450
if it is in a swirler. A chemical reaction will occur in which the clear Methanol
solution at the top mixes with the yellow oil to become one. At first, they will not
be mixed and will appear like a separated vinaigrette dressing. Have the group
student teachers explain or ask why that might happen for two solutions which
normally wouldn't mix, like oil and water, or oil and alcohol, which is happening in
this case. If there is time or interest, explain that the lye is the catalyst that helps
the Methanol and Oil blend together, and that's all there is to it. [That is, if this
information is not guessed by the students already] (The swirling/blending
creates a small vortex, and for the reaction to occur, it needs to continue
blending for the full time remaining in the experiment. Leave the blenders or
swirlers on until the mixture becomes one steady solution, even if it means that
the swirlers stay on while the Methanol Test is being done, approx. 10-15
minutes. If the class is using blenders, it will take far less time, approx. 5-10
minutes, but the blenders must be turned off during the Methanol Test so they
can hear what is going on.) If the swirlers are being used, MAKE SURE THE
Announce to students that the Biodiesel they just made has to settle for 24 hours.
Show students what it looks like after this time by showing a glass jar with
previously-made biodiesel that has the settled glycerin at the bottom, which is
part of the process. Explain that the glycerin at the bottom is a small amount of
waste and that the golden liquid at the top is Biodiesel.
Methanol Test Demo (During Experiment) (Slide 17):

12: [Play snippet from "Low Rider" song by War, and increase the volume so that
attention comes back to the front of the class.] Announce that while the class
batches are mixing, we (1 or 2 from the PSU/teacher group) will be testing
Biodiesel that we have stored and previously made that we made a few weeks
ago the same way we just made it now. We do this so we can check the purity of
the Biodiesel and see if it could go into a gas tank and actually work without
messing up the engine. If too many pieces of particulate matter fall to the bottom
of the beaker at the end of the Methanol test, it is an indicator that water might
have gotten into the solution (bad) and that it may not be viable. It might be a
bad batch.

Have the teacher go around from group to group to show and tell what has gone
on in each of the beakers that are involved in the Methanol Test.

13: Have a teacher take a container of wood alcohol at the front of the class and
measure out 225 milliliters in a cleaned beaker. (Make sure cap is replaced
14: Take 25 milliliters of the previously-made Biodiesel that has settled for 24
hours and add it to the measured methanol. Do a duplicate beaker with 225
milliliters of Methanol and 25 milliliters of previously-made Biodiesel, and add a
few drops of water to it.
15: If the solution is opaque, this means that the biodiesel is impure. This will be
true for certain in the second beaker where water was added. Tell students that
water got into the solution, and so it is a bad batch, and cannot run in an engine--
it would destroy the motor. For the first beaker, if the solution is clear, show
students that it is a good batch, ready to be used. Have them draw their
observations in the box on the handout sheet that specifies "Methanol Test
Observations" on the back side of the sheet.
16: Clean the beakers again: (make sure to keep gloves and goggles on)

                      Cleanup #1 (Part of Experiment)(Slide 18):
17: Announce that we should all clean up our lab tables and lab areas.
18: Have students keep their gloves and eye goggles on for the cleaning of the
19: The beakers need to be cleaned in hot soapy water.
20: The remaining Vegetable Oil needs to be returned to the front of the class.

                       Cleanup #2 (Part of Experiment):
21: Have class stop their blenders and come one by one to the front of the class
to dump the new biodiesel into the 10 Gallon container at the front of the class.
22: Have the students clean out their blenders’ with hot soapy water:
23: Take down plastic/ clean tables.
Transition (1 minute): Introduce that next, once all of our lab areas are clean
and ready for the next class, that we are going to play a trivia game called "Catch
Phrase" with Biodiesel vocabulary cards.

Catch Phase Game (9-10.5 minutes) (Slide 19): Divide the class into two teams and
have them on opposite sides of the room. Using the flash cards with Biodiesel-related
vocabulary on them, and have a member from one of the teams come up to the front of
the classroom. The person at the front of the room will look at the word on the flash
card and give hints to their team so that their team can attempt to guess the word on the
card. Provide hints (with discretion-- you are not playing sides) and if the team cannot
guess the word, have them move onto a different word/term. The time up at the front of
the class is timed (2 minutes each-- and teachers keep track of the countdown). The
person at the front of the room can give their team hints about the word but cannot say
the word (or any part of the word) that is on the card. Once the team has guessed as
many words on the flash cards within the 2 minutes allowed during their turn, and have
accumulated one point for each right answer, the student will sit down with their team
and a volunteer from the second group will come to the front of the room and move onto
the next flash card. Only members of their group can guess the word-- the team that is
not playing must be silent. Each team will have two 2-minute rounds, with one point
awarded for each word guessed correctly. Whichever team has ultimately guessed the
most words by the end of the game will be the winning team!

Questions (OPTIONAL-- Catch Phrase seems to eat up the time allotted for this)
(0-1.5 minutes) (Slide 20): Ask students, "So, what did you think about the game or the
experiment?" “What are some ways that you think that all this Biodiesel can be used
now that we've made it?” Students can raise their hands and brainstorm, and teachers
can write student answers on the board. "Do you think that Biodiesel is an important
thing for the U.S. Department of Energy to seriously look at as a source of alternative
energy?" "Why or why not?" Is there anything left over about Biodiesel that we never
got to, but that you think is important about this topic?

Conclusion: This exploration in chemistry has been so great for us because you have
shown a willingness to jump in headfirst to learning about this fuel source!


    List of Resources Needed for Lab, DIY Chemistry: Making Biodiesel

o     Safety goggles
o     60 pair of thin, latex-free chemistry lab gloves for two classes of
       25 students-- buy more than you think you need-- some go missing or rip after
       people put them on) Do not buy kitchen rubber gloves. They are far too thick
       for people to use while they are trying to write down observations.
o     Paper Towels for each table to quicken cleanup time
o     Natural dish soap to wash out beakers/Erlenmeyer flasks after use
o     Sink with hot water where supplies can be washed after the experiment
o     Dish sponge for the sink
o     1 liter of vegetable oil (multiplied by the number of groups)
o     200 milliliters of methanol (wood alcohol) (multiplied by the number of groups)
o     one 25 mL graduated cylinder for the methanol test
o     6 400-500 mL beakers for the methanol test and to measure out oil
o     a tiny funnel to fit in the 25 mL graduated cylinder to measure out previously-
       made Biodiesel for the methanol test
o     1 container of lye- “Little Red Devil” drain cleaner (one should be enough for
       many groups.)
o     Erlenmeyer flasks (1,000 mL) w/ screw-on lids(multiplied by the number of
       groups) OR Glass beakers able to hold 250-500 ml w/ plastic wrap as a lid
o     10 gallon container to store biodiesel at the end of the experiment
o     1.5 liter glass container of biodiesel from previous experiment (at least 24 hours
       in advance)
o     four Magnetic Stirring plates (Swirlers) with heater OR variable speed blender
       not used for food (multiplied by number of 4-6 person groups)
o     Scale that is accurate for as small as 0.5 grams
o     Common spoon, plastic or metal, that will not be used for food
    o      A large (5 gallon) gas can/jug with lid to hold all of the student-made Biodiesel
            after the experiment is completed.



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Fuel, the Movie (came out October, 2008): <>

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