Senior Year Project Grant Application

Sam Shames

Organizations Involved: Newton North High School, Senior Year Project
Grade Level Involved: 12
Proposal by: Sam Shames
Director of my Project: Steven Chinosi
Heads of Senior Year Project: Steven Chinosi and Michelle Kennedy
Project Title: A Study of the Efficiency of Biodiesel Reactors

Description of the Project:
For my Senior Year Project, I want to study different designs for the homemade Biodiesel processor, commonly called Appleseeds. All over the internet are different designs for Appleseeds and while they all have a common foundation, the finished products are very different.

For my project, I want to study in depth the differences between the Appleseed models and determine the most efficient model. With in my overall definition of efficient, I will have different subsets. Using primary and secondary research, I will determine the most efficient model of Appleseed for each of my subsets of efficiently. These include but are not limited to the following: Cost to build, Cost to produce fuel (on a per gallon basis), Difficulty to build, Easiness to build, Difficulty to operate, Easiness to operate, Energy Efficient (uses the least amount of electricity), Best quality fuel (as determined by ATSM standards), Most environmentally friendly (uses the least amount of chemicals to produce the fuel, and produces fuel with the smallest waste stream, including glycerol and waste water), and safest.

After determining a most efficient model for each of my definition of efficiency, I will select an overall most efficient design of an Appleseed. After making the selection, I will build the model which I have selected most efficient. Once I have completed building my Appleseed, I will use it to make biodiesel. I anticipate that I will be able to get the necessary chemicals and waste oil from the Newton North Greengineers. I plan to test the fuel I produce with my Appleseed to ensure that it meets the ASTM standards and if it does, I plan to donate it to Newton's Community Farm's tractor. As time permits, I will continue producing biodiesel with my Appleseed.

As part of my Senior Year Project, I will demonstrate my learning through three ways. First, I will write a formal research paper that reflects both my interest and primary research. Second, I must create a project portfolio, though a form I choose, that organizes the process that I went through. Finally, I have to go before a committee and orally defend my project through a formal presentation. Assuming all goes according to plan and I finish with a viable Appleseed, I will donate my finished product to the Newton North Greengineers so that they may use it as they see fit. That way my senior year project not only benefits me, but students who will come after me. Future Greengineers will be able to use my project to learn more about the process of refining biodiesel. I will also be able to share what I have learned from my Senior Year Project with other schools in Newton, as the Greengineers have presentations in other schools.

Timeline: (Based on timeline of from
2/1-3/31: Research on different Appleseed designs, determine most efficient model, and order parts for selected design
3/29: Research / Field Work presented
4/4: Released from regular classes, Begin Building Appleseed reactor
4/4-4/18: Work on building Appleseed
4/18-5/2: Produce ASTM quality biodiesel using finished Appleseed reactor
5/2-5/10: Work on research paper and project portfolio
5/10: Final Draft of research paper due
5/10-5/14: Return to SYP class to finalize presentations
5/17-5/18: On-Campus informal mini-presentations
5/19-5/27: Formal Senior Year Project presentations
My project will involve myself, building and operating the Appleseed and Mr. Chinosi as an advisor. I may receive help via email from biodiesel consultants connected with the NNHS Greengineers. I will however, be researching, building, and operating the Appleseed independently.

Plans for execution of project:
In order to execute my project, I must do several things. I will do extensive research on the differences between designs of Appleseeds in order to determine how to build the most efficient one. I will be researching using texts, the internet, as well as interviews. I will use books on biodiesel fuel, internet forums, and interviews with experts from the biodiesel community. The Greengineers already have relationships with several biodiesel experts and I will be able to use that to help establish contact. After I have finished researching and have chosen an Appleseed to build, I will purchase the parts, which are available at Home Depot as well as other hardware stores. Once I have the necessary parts, I will begin building. According to my preliminary research, it takes about six hours to build an Appleseed and is not extremely difficult. Once I have completed my Appleseed, I will start making biodiesel. I should be able to get both the waste-oil and the chemicals from the Greengineers. While I am making the fuel I will make observations about the actually efficiency of the machine that I built. I will then be able to compare how my machine actually performed to how I thought it would. Finally, I will test the quality of my fuel to ensure it meets ASTM standards. Once I have completed the fuel-cycle once, I will repeat it as time permits.

Itemized Budget
List of Parts for Appleseed Processor (Based on one design so may vary slightly depending on the final design that I choose)

Parts List:
All plumbing 3/4 inch unless otherwise noted. All plumbing black iron threaded pipe if possible- galvanized is sometimes the only choice for some fittings but is not preferred due to zinc content:

A. 3" pipe nipple
B. 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/2" tee
C close nipples - you'll need 7 of them
D ball valves (3/4")- buy 5 of them (very cheap at Harbor Freight, more expensive elsewhere)
E cross fitting (a sort of four-way tee, available at Lowes' but not at all other hardware stores. Substitute a pair of tees and some close nipples if you cant' find one)
F. Bushing: 3/4" by 1/2"- buy 2
G. 1/2" close nipple- 2
H 1/2" ball valve
H2 1/2" swing check valve
I. Nylon or Brass 90degree thread-to-barb fitting: male thread end is 1/2" thread, hose barb end is 3/8" barb, plus hose clamp
J. Length of 3/8" vinyl tubing- 3 or 4 feet.
K. straight or 90 degree 1/2 inch threaded to 3/8 inch barbed nylon or brass fitting, and hose clamp
L. 3/4" Hose Barb (I use plastic grey PVC ones that are sometimes in irrigation departments for about 30 cents each)
M. 1 or 2 feet of vinyl tubing as a drain/filler tube. Make this clear rather than braided hose so you can see through it well.
N. Union (3/4" of course)
O 1" by 3/4" bushings- 2 . Thread these into the pump with TONS of thread tape or pipe dope- more than you would normally use. The pump threads are straight thread rather than tapered American pipe thread, so they need extra help to prevent leaks.
P. Length of BRAIDED 3/4" vinyl hose. Do not use unreinforced nonbraided hose here. Prepare to replace this hose every few months as it deteriorates with heat and biodiesel.
Q 90degree elbows-2
R. length of pipe nipple approx 12"- 18" (purchase correct size after assembling everything else)
S. 2" long pipe nipple- 2
T Automotive mechanical temperature gauge (not 12V electrical type). I prefer the heavy-duty Sunpro one from Pep Boys over the other brands/stores. It should be $15ish. The numbers should start at 100F or lower instead of 130F (the other option at these stores). The biodiesel homebrew supply stores sell some alternatives.
U. Proper plumbing to attach to water heater's pressure relief vent and direct any fumes outside if using a pressure relief.
V. Water heater strapping, or other earthquake strapping for attaching the processor to your wall studs. I use webbing strapping.
W. Pump: This is a '1" Clear Water Pump from Harbor Freight Tools or Northern Tool- $35 part number 1479. This centrifugal pump also allows your 3/4" hose become sight tube (so you know how high the oil level is when filling the processor). Non-centrifugal pumps won't give you this feature, in which case you will need to instead add a tee and another tube as sight tube Give the sight tube a shutoff valve so you don't drain unreacted oil into your biodiesel when emptying the processor. See other plans elsewhere in this book for more details on how this works.
You will need to buy a grounded plug and a length of 14gauge power tool cord to wire up the pump as well.
X Heating elements and thermostats: Disable the upper heating element and thermostat.

Cost: Approximately $500
Non-Appleseed Related Costs:
Methanol $4.50/gallon
Potassium Hydroxide $4.00/pound

Amount of Funds Requested
I am requesting $500.00 for my Senior Year Project. This amount ensures that I have appropriate funds to not only complete an Appleseed processor. $500.00 ensures that I have enough money to build the most efficient processor possible because it means that I will be able to afford certain upgrades to my Appleseed (such as stainless steal piping, among others) that will increase its efficiency and durability. I believe that I will be able to secure matching funds from the Greengineers to help cover the costs of producing fuel.

Plans for Reporting Results of Project
I plan to report the results of my project through several outlets. As I mentioned above, I am required to submit a paper and portfolio and give a formal presentation. I plan to use each of those requirements to help present the findings from my project. In addition, I have created a website where I will be posting updates about my project as well as other research and important information that I gleam. So, the results of my project will be reported online at
__, in a formal research paper, in a project portfolio, and in a formal presentation to the Senior Year Project Committee.
Thank you for your time,

Sam Shames