Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold weather and cottonseed

It is blustery weather we are having around here the last few days! It is even a little chilly in the biodiesel plant now, as you can see from the thermometer and biodiesel in the picture above. I've inserted insulation into the warm weather exhaust fan boxes to help keep the cold outside. Notice the sample jar on the left with the white stuff in the bottom? That is biodiesel from poultry fat that I processed back in May for the fellas over at BW Fuel. All the saturated fats in that fuel just don't handle the cold too well. David over at Piedmont Biofuels said he had to heat up a truck's manifold this morning due to some chicken fat biodiesel solidifying.

I've been working with Lyle and David over at Piedmont Biofuels on some cottonseed we got from the Rolling Hills Gin in New London. This is the same ginner that makes the raw materials for TS Design's Cotton of the Carolinas(CotC) -- what an awesome project. Check out their website to find out how they are growing cotton and making them into shirts with only 750 miles traveled. Now, compare that to the thousands of miles most t-shirts people wear. But, I digress.

We have been talking with Eric Henry of TS Designs, the guys at Piedmont and Tom Wedegaertner from Cotton, Inc, about making some biodiesel from cottonseed. Here are some mason jars of cottonseed oil(CSO) obtained from Tom recently. Note the little tufts of fiber and the brown chunk in the foreground. The former is linters, the short fibers ripped from the cottonseed. The latter is a soapy mass of stuff that comes from the caustic stripping process of refining CSO.

We are currently running some tests to see if we can skip the refining process and make crude CSO into biodiesel. We have heard that it has been done before, but would like to see what, if any, conversion losses occur. Also, we want to try crushing the cottonseed without first delinting. We expect to see some loss from the linters absorbing the CSO, but want to quantify that first.

Check out the TS Designs Facebook page where they posted some pictures from the Piedmont Biofuels mobile tech trailer, where David, Lyle and Eric crushed some Rolling Hills cottonseed.

Stay tuned for more results and information on the CotC biodiesel project!

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