Harrisburg High School producing bio-diesel - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Harrisburg High School producing bio-diesel

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - Generally, the stories we've brought you about bio-fuels it is  made in large plants or in a program at a college.

But now with the help of generous donations, the Harrisburg High School EAST program is now making bio-diesel.

The brewer for lack of a better word,  is small enough and practical enough that every farmer could conceivably put one of them inside their shop and make their own fuel.

These guys decided to address the cost of diesel fuel used in the pump units on the farms they live on.

Senior Calen Wallace was checking out the machine, "Our dads are big farmers and it cost so much to run power units so we think we can run a power unit on this instead of regular diesel."

This home made fuel would cost about half of what farm diesel cost per gallon.

The students  went out and solicited donations to buy the machine, the shed and the soybean oil, methanol and powdered lye it takes to make the fuel.

Granted the machine comes already assembled. But you have to read the book.

Cale Reddmann said on the first go-around he kept the book close. "It is very complex and it was quite difficult our first round and we hoped to get it aced pretty soon."

With the pump primed, the waste oil began to flow into the tank as Reddmann turned valves like he was running a steam engine.

The mix must cook for at least 24 hours around the clock.

Garrett Grubbs said they will be coming to the building at all hours to make the perfect mixes.

Grubbs, "The real critical part is cleaning the oil and making sure the oil gets real clean and mixing the lye and the ethanol together equally so it just doesn't turn into a soupy oil."

I asked principal Steve Rorex what plans he has for the manufactured fuel.

"If we can come up with a product that is stable enough that we can use in the buses then there's an option of running a bus running on bio-diesel made by students.

Rorex says there are also a couple of tractors the school district has that run on diesel.

And the first batch of fuel the students made was put to the test on a power unit running on regular diesel.

Reddmann, "There was a total change in the way the motor burned and also it smelled different. It smelled like fried french fries...it was pretty awesome."

Next week the fuel will be tested on a power unit running under laboratory conditions.

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