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Biodiesel & SVO Events Description

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Old 11-11-2008, 04:37 PM
girl mark girl mark is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pittsboro, North Carolina
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Biodiesel Production Hands-on Crash Course: Operate Your Own Reactor format

with Maria 'girl Mark' Alovert

Marietta, OH
Jan 17-18

The Marietta class is hosted by Michael Palmer of the diesel technology department of Washington State Community College, however, please register through and direct class-specific questions to me at

Oxford, MS

Feb 21-22

$140 regular/$108 early registration (see website for cutoff dates)

no one turned away for lack of funds

For more information and to register, please see

This is a fast-paced class designed to quickly teach the skills needed for safely making high quality biodiesel, using a unique and truly hands-on format. Students will 'learn by doing' by making their own 5-gallon batches of biodiesel from beginning to end. There is also an opportunity to build your own full-size reactor to take home for those who purchase a parts kit in advance.

Students will spend one day learning basic theory, practicing titration, making mini-batches, and learning quality testing. The second day is devoted to solidifying the theory you just learned, by making biodiesel in realistic "Processor Stations', practicing every step used in a full-size home biodiesel production system. Student teams will operate realistic, tabletop 5-gallon processor systems- a miniature version of the common Appleseed Processor/wash tank/dry tank found around the world- and the tabletop reactor will familiarize them with every valve, tank, pump, switch, and interconnect that would be found in a full-size system. The goal of the class format is to take the hands-on learning experience a big step beyond the '1-liter mini-batch' equipment used in most biodiesel classes. There will also be a full-size reactor system on a trailer at the class, including GL-1 and pot still-type methanol recovery systems.


In most biodiesel workshops (including my own Biodiesel Essentials), "hands-on time" usually means a few hours of lab work involving titration and shaking 1-liter soda bottle batches, or, at best, a demonstration by the instructor of some pre-arranged steps in a full-size reactor, performed once, with the students just watching. Neither of these is an ideal learning method for the complexity involved in using a 'real' biodiesel reactor on your own for the first time at home. People who are hands-on learners sometimes need more time on "realistic" equipment operation in addition to the 1-liter shaken soda bottle batch method.

Operating your own processors in class would be more realistic than 1-liter glassware batches- but is very difficult to arrange as a class for 20 people. Operating a full system can also make it easier to understand equipment choices that face you as you design your own home system after the class, or help decide on one to purchase.

In the crash course, you will first learn the basic theory using a standard one-day mini-batch class, then spend the next day actually operating (with a team of 5-8) your own 'realistic' 5-gallon mini-reactor and processing system. You and your team will make decisions and mistakes, with constant personalized guidance to ensure that you understand why every step is done as well as when. Teams may choose from several variations on the basic process, and we will focus on quality control and equipment/process decisions needed to make high quality biodiesel, safe processing methods, and efficient system design.

Equipment Building:
We can also build some processors at the end of the first day, for those students who wish to purchase a parts kit and water heater tank in advance. This is not mandatory and everyone can help build the systems. We will not use these large reactors in the hands-on class, so they can be transported home without mess. Please purchase your parts kit from the instructor or from Because we are trying to fit a lot into the weekend, we don't have time to assemble your own 'store-bought' parts, and can only work from the kit. The kit sold by the instructor is similar to that formerly sold by and if they get them in stock again, please feel free to purchase theirs. If you are building a system, you will also need to bring a new or used electric water heater of any size. Everyone will learn how to build a processor, even if you don't buy your own.

Preparation and reading:

Because this is a fast-paced class, it is highly recommended that you purchase, ahead of time, an inexpensive test batch kit from and try to make and wash a soda-bottle test batch, using storebought, new oil not requiring titration, before the class. This is not mandatory but the preparation will enhance your class experience.

To make the class run smoothly and so that you get the most out of it, please read the website before the class, so that you have some idea of the basic process. Copies of Biodiesel Homebrew Guide will also be available for sale fpr $15 at the class: , and there will be a short handout with some basic formulas for later reference.

About the instructor:
Maria 'girl Mark' Alovert is a biodiesel production technology consultant based in North Carolina. She is the author of The Biodiesel Homebrew Guide, a manual on biodiesel production (, the founder of the community-written biodiesel homebrewing tutorial site and is the inventor of the Appleseed Processor, an 'open source' design now used by thousands of people around the world to produce biodiesel on a 'homebrew' scale. She has been involved in home-scale biodiesel technology development since 2000, and is currently researching production techniques for high-FFA oils/acid-catalyzed esterification, and ethanol-based biodiesel. She frequently teaches beginning and advanced biodiesel production classes around the country and is a an active participant in biodiesel production discussion forums such as

For more information and to register, please see
[b]Biodiesel Classes and Advanced Topics forums around the country:

Biodiesel Homebrew Guide:

Diary of a Mad Scientist blog
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