Lit Review

America has a problem. Our way of life is not sustainable. We are running out of fossil fuels, and the question that remains is when. If we want to continue our way of life, then we need solution. The solution must begin on the local level. One possibility is biodiesel, a renewable fuel that can be made locally by small producers. Many small scale producers make their own biodiesel in a homemade reactor called an Appleseed. An Appleseed is a biodiesel reactor that can be made for under 500 dollars in under six hours. The design plans are online for true open source. Not surprisingly, this has led to experimentation on different Appleseed designs. The question that remains though is which design is the most efficient? I believe that the most efficient Biodiesel Reactor is one that combines ease of use, cost efficiency, and safety, yet still produces a high quality fuel without harming the environment.

An Appleseed reactor is essentially a modified hot-water heater. In order to make an Appleseed, you need a hot-water heater, wiring, a pump, ball valves, and hoses and plumbing. While those are the basic requirements to make an Appleseed, different design plans include extra features to improve the process in some way. Making an Appleseed requires no welding and basic electrical knowledge.

Every book on biodiesel that has a section on appleseed processors contains instructions on how to build an appleseed. They explain what parts are necessary as well as how to put it together. Not surprisingly though, some books go into greater depth than others. In his book, Kemp not only includes instructions on how to build a processor, but also includes many pictures which are very useful to help clarify the explanations. The Kemp book is only one of the only resources that address the waste stream. Kemp also includes instructions on how to make a methonal condensor so you can reclaim the methanol and clean your glycerin. He truely explains how to make real green biodiesl.

In his book, Guy Purcella includes a helpful checklist for designing a processor. The checklist includes everything that is necessary for a design. It really asks the right questions that make sure the design will work. He also explains what makes one biodiesel kit better than another. More importantly, he compares the two major type of processors, the appleseed and the cone tank design. He markets the strenghts and weaknesses of each design, allowing the reader to ultimately decide which is more efficient.

The book Run Your Diesel Vehicle on Biofuels also has a list of everything a sucessful biodiesel processor must be capable of. Their list does not go into quite as much depth as the one in Do It Yourself Guide to Biodiesel. Their section on appleseeds also conatins instructions, a parts list with suggestions about which parts to buy, and helpful pictures. This book offers some non-technical things to consider about your processor such as where to locate it. It dicuss how the whereever you choose will have to have electricity, water, lighting, ventilation, and a way to contain spills. These are very important things to think about which are often overlooked.

On his website,, Rich offers an entire section on appleseeds. His website contains not only detailed plans but specific sections on the hardest parts, like wiring. He offers a history of the appleseed, plans for a version slightly modified from the original, help choosing the right size water heater, as well as instructions for actually running the completed appleseed. His website site also contains helpful photos. is one of the most helpful resources because it goes into greater depth on appleseeds than any of the print materials.

Almost every resource on biodiesel talks about the appleseed processor. Since the design is open source, plans for building one are easy to find. Overall, the internet resources seem to go into greater depth on the subject of appleseeds than the print sources. The print sources however, provide a much better basic foundation about the processor. They include what is necessary for a basic design as well as suggestions for the best types of parts to buy. Both print and online will be essential in the discovery of what makes the most efficient appleseed design.

Works Cited
Kemp, William. Biodiesel : basics and beyond : a comprehensive guide to production and use for the home and farm. Tamworth, Ont: Aztext, 2007. Print.

Purcella, Guy. Do It Yourself Guide to Biodiesel: Your Alternative Fuel Solution for Saving Money, Reducing Oil Dependency, Helping the Planet. Calif.: Ulysses, 2008. Print.

Starbuck, Jon, and Gavin D. J. Harper. Run Your Diesel Vehicle on Biofuels: a Do-it-yourself Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.

"The Appleseed Processor." Make Biodiesel. Thurs. 7 Jan. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2010