Moore & Hufstedler Funds

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Moore & Hufstedler Funds

Project Proposal


Summer

2005







To:
Moore
-
Hufstedler Funds

c/o VP Margo Marshak

MC 100
-
31








Engineers
for a Sustainable World

California Institute of Technology

(ESW
-
CIT)




Project Organizers:



Eugene Mahmoud

___________
_________________________________________________






Brenda
n Kayes

____________________________________________________________


Derek Rinderknecht

____________________________________________________________



Signature





Date


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GENERAL INFORMATION


I)

P
roject Title

ESW
-
CIT Summer Development Project


Purpose of the Proposal

The purpose of this proposal is twofold: first, we hope to send ten Caltech students
(five graduate students and five undergraduate students) to the Engineers for a
Sustainable World

(ESW) Third Annual National Conference in Austin, Texas in
October 2005. Second,

we hope to fabricate

a bio
-
diesel reactor on campus to create
bio
-
diesel from waste cooking oil for the Caltech community to use.


Impact on Student Life

ESW
-
CIT raises awa
reness of the unique technological needs of developing
communities, both domestic and international, and of how these needs might be met
by scientific and engineering research
.
This project proposal addresses two
opportunities that will allow us to achiev
e our goals for the Caltech community over
both the short and long term.


Issues of sustainability and appropriate technology are quickly moving to the
forefront of both national interest and academic research. By providing travel funds
for interested st
udents to attend ESW’s national conference, we hope that Caltech
students will continue to be at the forefront of this scientific and professional
community. The ESW National Conference is an opportunity for Caltech students to
present their research, int
eract with leading scholars and professionals, network with
other similarly interested students, and return to the Caltech community with both
resources that will enhance the campus quality of life.

Although this is an off
-
campus
event, it is important to

ensure that a delegation of students is ab
le to participate
.

In
the past, students who have wanted to attend this event have had to petition their
option or department for funds on an individual basis, with varying success.
Financial support from the Mo
ore
-
Hufstedler

Fund ensures that students from all
divisions have the opportunity to attend.


In addition, ESW
-
CIT is also working towards bringing a biodiesel reactor to the
campus community by this fall.
Biodiesel is a non
-
petroleum fuel that is produce
d
from domestic, renewable resources and is a clean burning alternative to petroleum.
It can be used in compression
-
ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications.
Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sul
fur and
aromatics. As gas prices continue to climb,
we expect that this project will have a
huge impact on the Campus community’s awareness of alternative fuel sources. The
construction of a small
-
scale biodiesel reactor will offer the opportunity for
Ca
ltech
divisions and individuals with
diesel vehicle
s

to
purchase and/or make

their own fuel
(at a subsidized price), and for all students and staff to learn about alternatives to
petroleum
-
based fuel.

Financial support from the Moore
-
Hufstedler Fund would

cover the initial capital expenses of this project.




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II)

Amount Requested

The total amount of money requested from the MHF is $5088.78. Total expenses for
travel and attendance
of 10 Caltech students
to
the
national conference are
approximately $5000. Sup
port from the MHF will supplant

half of these expenses as
well as the cost of advertising the conference to the Caltech community
. We expect
to petition individual Caltech departments to
fundraise the remaining cost of the
conference expenses. The total
cost of the biodiesel reactor is $2548.78. We expect
that financial support from the MHF will cover all of our initial setup costs. For a
more explicit break down of these expenses please see the attached spread sheet.


III)
Contact Information



Indi
viduals submitting the proposal:

-

Eugene Mahmoud,
eugene@caltech.edu
, MC 104
-
44, grad

-

Brendan Kayes,
Brendan@caltech.edu
, MC 128
-
95, grad

-

Derek Rinderknecht,
rinderkn@caltech.edu
, MC 205
-
45, grad


Individuals responsible for submitting the follow
-
up report to the MH
F

Advisory
Committee:

-

Same as above


Send funding to:

-

Engineers for a Sustainable World,

CE
FCU account numb
er 1364085 (CA)

-

Or alternatively
,

Bursars account # C00021804


IV)

Project Description



The following

ESW
-
CIT
projects will be advertised to the entire Caltech community


PLANNED ACTIVITIES FOR
Summer 2005
:

Activities

Date

expected #
participants

O
pen to

E
SW National Conference in
Austin


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The ESW National Conference will be held on the camp
us of the University of
Texas

at
Austin,

between October 5
th

and October 9
th
. Thi
s annual event is a meeting of the national
chapters of ESW, and features many workshops, lectures, poster sessions, and other activities
relevant to the overall goal of
promoting
sustainability

in engineering endeavors
. This year our
chapter expects to b
ring a delegation of 10 Caltech students


5 graduates and 5 undergraduates.

Attendance at the conference is open to members of ESW

(
membership is
$10 a year for
students)
.



The Biodiesel reactor is a new project for ESW
-
CIT. We are requesting money fo
r
the fabrication and startup expenses of this particular project. This capital expenditure includes
all resources and services needed to build
a
biodiesel reactor, initial purchases of methanol and
lye, safety amenities,

storage
, and other costs as relat
ed to initial setup. Waste vegetable oil will
be procured from Caltech Dining Services
.
Only Caltech affiliates will be able to
use the

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biodiesel. Ongoing expenses will be recouped from the sale of the produced biodiesel.

For a
more complete descriptio
n of our project please see the implementation
section. Also,
feel free
to contact anyone of the above
-
mentioned ESW representatives.





V)

Club or organization information

Engineers
for a Sustainable World



United States of America (ESW
-
USA) is a national

organization that partners interested students and professionals with d
eveloping communities to
define

appropriate
technical solutions for much needed improvements in quality of life. ESW
-
CIT is one of the many ESW
-
USA university chapters throughout the
cou
ntry.

ESW
-
CIT brings
together those with interests in international development, scientific problem
-
solving and
partnership with developing communities. We aim to gather and maintain resources so that
students can broaden the
ir education across discipli
nes for a humanitarian purpose
. Additionally,
we hope to enhance student life on campus by providing an opportunity for students to learn
about and participate in engineering development projects both in the USA and abroad. The
objectives of ESW
-
CIT are to
:



Raise awareness of development issues and the critical role of engineers and scientists
to engage in socially responsible endeavors.



Co
ordinate

research opportunities, as well as new Caltech coursework, in the area of
sustainable and socially resp
onsible development.



Organize forums, workshops and facilitated discussions on working in developing
communities.



Support students, faculty, and professionals interested in the design and
implementation of appropriate technologies in developing com
munities.



Create and support other events or activities that enab
le ESW
-
CIT to achieve the goals

of the mission statement.


Club History and Membership:


The club has been active since September 2003. There are currently
t
welve

core club members
,
15
active members (nationally registered members paying dues to ESW
-
USA),

with
101

affiliate
members on our email list. The club consists of both grad and undergrad students with
Dr.
Janet
Hering as our faculty advisor.



C
urrent ESW
Core Members


Name

Opt
ion

Affiliation

Brendan Kayes

APh

Graduate

Derek Rinderknecht

BE

Graduate

Eugene L. D. Mahmoud

ME

Graduate

Mary Ollenburger

ME

Undergraduate

Nir Krakauer

Geochemistry

Graduate

AnneMarie Polsenberg Thomas

ME

Graduate

Tinh Luong

Biology

Graduate

Swar
oop Mishra

ChE

Graduate

Candace Seu

Ch

Undergraduate

Jeff Kranski


Undergraduate

Geoff Smith

Biology

Staff

John Van Deusen

ME

Staff


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The following is a list of events and activities we have hosted or collaborated with:


2005

Friday Apr 22, 11am
-
2pm

Ea
rth Day at Caltech. Organized by the Caltech Environmental Task
Force

Saturday Apr 9:

Tour of the
Los Angeles Eco
-
Village
.

Tuesday March 8:

Presentation by Jules Dervaes,
Path to Freedom

Thursday Feb 24:

Tour of UCSB's
Donald Bren Hall
, "the greenest laboratory building in the
United States", and of
Patagonia
’s se
condary headquarters. Tour in collaboration with
ArtCenter
College of Design
.

Saturday Feb 5:

Visit to
Tierra Miguel

community
-
supported agriculture farm.

Tuesday Feb 1
:

Catharine Stebbins presented her work with
Prof. Kerry Sieh

(
SPELLING?
)
doing educational outreach on earthquakes and tsunamis to villages in Indonesia.

Tuesday Jan 25:

Screeni
ng of
The End of Suburbia

Thursday Jan 20:

Presentation of the Award for Best Paper in
E/ME 105

(“Team Cholera
Treatments Worldwide”, Fabien Ni
caise, Chris Rusay, and Chen
-
Zhe Wang), and installation of
all project posters in the Thomas Building.


2004

Fall 2004:
E105: Engineering Design of Products

-

Caltech class with Prof. Ken Picka
r

Thursday, November 18:

Speaker,
Iqbal Quadir
, founder of
GrameenPhone

Tuesday, November 9:

Speaker,
Michael Rosberg

University of Belize an
d Galen University

Thursday, November 4:

Speaker, David Kaisel,
Sustainable Sciences Institute

Thursday, October 7:

Speaker, David Irvine
-
Halliday,
Light Up The World

T
hursday, September 30


Saturday, October 2:
Solutions for a Shrinking Planet

-

ESW National
Conference

Wednesday, May 12:

Speaker, Adrian Hightower,
Enhanced Energy Foundation

Thursday, April 8:

Film screening and discussion, "Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh."

Thursday, February 26:

Speaker, Tim Prestero,
Design that Matters

Saturday, Februa
ry 7 :

Visit to
Tierra Miguel

community
-
supported agriculture farm.

Thursday, January 29:

Film screening and discussion, "Bread and Roses," 8:00PM in the North
Catalina rec room.


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DETAILED BUDGET


I)

See attached s
preadsheet.


II)

As a new project
,

we are
currently
seeking funding from student member divisions as well
as ASCIT to cover conference related expenses and undergraduate member airfare
respectively.

We are also considering contacting the President’s office a
nd the Alumni
Association.

A proposal was submitted to ASCIT on April 14
th
, 2005 requesting a total of
$1000. However, only $102 was granted.


Thus, it

is even more imperative that ESW is
able to secure funding from MHF to ensure that student members from

the undergraduate
and graduate community
have the opportunity to attend.


III)

Ongoing costs related to this proposal concern the
consumables,
maintena
nce and repairs
of the Caltech b
io
-
diesel system. Consumables include lye and methanol. The sole waste
produ
cts

of this

process, glycerin and soap, are both biodegradable. We intend to cover
these expenses by selling the bio
-
diesel, as discussed below.


IV)

We anticipate the Caltech bio
-
di
esel reactor to have the following

ongoing costs:


-

Repairs and maintenance (
costs such as replacing O
-
rings, broken parts, and
maintaining the storage shed)

-

Purchasing biodiesel reactants (methanol and lye)

-

Membership to biodiesel associations (so that we can stay aware of new biodiesel
breakthroughs and methods)

-

Byproduct disposa
l (the process creates glycerin, which will either need to be
disposed of or possibly donated)

-

Student worker

stipend (although not in the near future
, we
would
ideally
like to
have a modestly
stipend

for
a student to oversee the reactor

as demand increase
s
)



As of April 25, 2005 diesel fuel prices in California on average cost $2.57/gallon when
bought commercially. As a result, we see the potential to cove
r the above costs by selling
the produced

biodiesel at a price that is slightly higher than the cos
t of making it. Other
biodiesel systems on average require approximately $ 0.70 in consumables to make a
gallon of biodiesel. By selling the biodiesel at a per gallon cost significantly lower than the
current cost of diesel, we will be able to

recover the

cost of the consumables and pay off
other ongoing costs.


V)


As we intend for the biodiesel reactor to stay on campus longer than those who initially are
to implement it, we plan on the development of a reactor in a way that can best be of
service to the C
altech community indefinitely. First, we hope to document the entire
research and fabrication process of the biodiesel reactor in a manner that will be accessible
to both the future members of ESW
-
CIT. We have already begun this process, by
collecting
re
levant literature

(
Biodiesel Homebrew Guide

and
From the Fryer to the Fuel
Tank
)

and making contacts with both local and regional biodiesel experts

(Path to Freedom,
Biodiesel Solutions, Inc., and the Biodiesel Coop)
.



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Secondly, we hope to develop this p
roject in a way that other divisions of the Caltech
community are invested as well. John Van Deusen, a staff member in the Mechanical
Engineering department, has been principally involved in the inception and research of this
proposal. His willingness to

wo
rk with us has already helped

to garner the institutional
support that we need from various Caltech divisions: Environment, Health and Safety
Services; Mechanical Engineering; Superintendent of Shops; Campus Operations; Dining
Services;
and the
Physical

Plant.


IMPLEMENTATION


ESW National Conference


I)

We currently have an ESW
-
CIT member mailing list of 101 students. Information
about club events are posted on our website (http://esw.caltech.edu), emailed out to our
members and other relevant student gro
ups and sometimes to the entire Caltech student
community, as well as flyer and poster advertisements around the campus. Club events
are also posted on the Caltech Today website (http://atcaltech.caltech.edu), and
announced in the monthly GSC newsletter.
We also have contact with the ArtCenter
College of Design, and advertise some of our events to ArtCenter students by email.


We
plan to advertise the National Conference primarily by emails to our list.


II)

We are not yet sure whether any ESW
-
CIT members
will be making presentations or
posters for the conference. It will be up to the individual members to prepare their
presentation/poster if they plan to do this. Other than this, the main tasks associated
with attending the conference will be logistical.

We plan to have a pre
-
meeting with all
of the students who will be attending the conference to exchange contact details and to
discuss the schedule and content of the conference. We hope to have a de
-
briefing
session after the conference where we can di
scuss insights from the conference, lessons
learned, and what we felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the conference.


III)

N/A


IV)
Four of our members (Eddie Braunchaud, Brendan Kayes, Eugene Mahmoud, and
Derek Rinderknecht) attended the ESW nati
onal conference in September 2004. Two
of our members (Brendan Kayes and Eugene Mahmoud) made presentations at that
conference. This year we hope to send
ten Caltech students

to the conference, and
thus increase the exposure of the Caltech community to
t
he
resourceful ways of
sustainable development.


V)
Similar groups on campus such as, Social Activism Speaker Series (SASS), Caltech
Environmental Task Force (CETF), Peaceful Justice at Caltech and the Caltech Y,
offer complimentary activities. ESW
-
CIT

strives to offer a diverse calendar of events
with a strong focus on sustainability and engineering related development work. In
addition, we are unique in bringing together students and faculty to develop socially

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relevant design projects and curricula
in order to integrate sustainable practices into
the Caltech community.




We aim to use our connections
wi
t
h

other on
-
campus groups such as those listed
above to better advertise the conference in order to have a greater impact on the
Caltech community.


Biodiesel R
eactor


I)

See I) above. The success or failure of this biodiesel project will rest largely on
whether or not all the relevant parties are aware of it. We have already contacted many
people on campus, including Caltech Dining Services and Campus

Operations (see (V)
below). We plan to start out by selling our biodiesel at a
modest rate for use in Caltech
-
owned

diesel vehicles. This will allow us to see how our supply compares with the
demand. If we have surplus biodiesel then we will advertise
to the wider Caltech
community (primarily by email) and make the biodiesel available to all.
We already
have an email interest list with number of students who want to help with this project.


II)

Major tasks include:

-

setting up the biodiesel reactor afte
r purchase

-

purchasing and m
aintaining the required reactant
s (methanol and lye)

-

collecting waste oil from Caltech Dining Services

-

setting up and supervising the reaction to make the biodiesel

-

distributing the biodiesel

-

cleaning and maintaining the reactor



We plan to run the

biodiesel reactor collectively under the supervision of

John van
Deusen, director of the Mechanical Engineering machine shop. We already have a
number of students interested in helping with this project and do not feel that
manpower
will be a problem.


Caltech dining facilities currently generate about 40 gallons of waste fryer oil per week.
This oil, using a process know as transesterification, can be converted into a useable
form of diesel fuel, known as biodiesel.


A brief overvie
w of the process would be:

1. Obtain waster fryer oil
.


2. Test oil for free fatty acids and water (titration and boiling)
.

3. Heat oil to 130°
F
.

4. Make “catalyst”, sodium met oxide by mixing methanol and lye
.

5. Mix catalyst and oil and agitate for 1
-
2 h
ours
.

6. Allow mixture to settle 8
-
36 hours. Settling will separate the byproducts of glycerol,
soap, water, and some methanol from the biodiesel
.

7. Drain off glycerol/soap layer

8. Water wash, using a mist or bubble method, biodiesel layer to remove rem
aining
soap


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9. Let fuel sit until water haze clears and fuel is dry

10. Filter to 5 microns and us
e

or store up to 1 year


This process is accomplished using quite a variety of processing equipment. The
equipment can vary from something as simple as a fiv
e
-
gallon drum or used electric
water heater converted with different valves and pumps, to a sophisticated unit of
stainless steel tanks and microprocessors.


Biodiesel Solutions (www.biodieselsolutions.com) fabricates a middle of the road unit
that uses co
mmercially available plastic containers and pumps. This unit was
demonstrated to ESW
-
CIT at the Caltech Earth Day Fair. Although this unit looked
very well engineered, there were some concerns as to using a plastic containment vessel
for the mixing and h
eating of the oil/catalyst mixture. The cost was also quite high and
it was felt that using the expertise and facilities available on the Caltech campus that we
could design and build a processor. We felt that our processor could be as good
,

and
safer
,

t
han this unit.


The lye and the methanol are the two most hazardous elements. Everything after the
reaction with the oil is pretty safe. Normal safety precautions would have to be
observed. Long sleeves (shops coats would be best), safety glasses (goggl
e type again
would be best). The byproducts are soap and glycerol, which are both biodegradable.
The flashpoint of biodiesel is lower than petroleum diesel, and far lower than gasoline,
so storage and spillage are not a major concern. The methanol and l
ye would be kept in
locked storage cabinets.


The finished biodiesel can be stored in 55
-
gallon drums for up to a year. There are
many pumps available that can pump directly from a 55
-
gallon drum to a car. See the
McMaster
-
Carr catalog PN

6753K31

for an
example.


We should not need a license to sell biodiesel to
the
Caltech community members
,

so

long as they “participated” in the making of the biodiesel. According to the letter of the
law, an individual processing
and using
the biodiesel does not have
to do any testing or
pay excise taxes.
This is a very “gray” area
.
It is still be
ing
debated

and
, as of yet, we

do not think there is much enforcement on small processors.
However, we intend that
all users of the biodiesel reactor shall be able to parti
cipate in some part of the process
.
If we were to try and sell to outside the Caltech community

or significantly increase our
production capacity
, we may run into problems
, but this is not our intention
.



III)

A location has already been arranged. The
reactor will be housed in the satellite area

beside the fuelling station by the physical plant, on the east side of campus.


IV)
Although we do not have prior hands
-
on experience with biodiesel, John van Deusen,
in collaboration with ESW, has extensively
researched what building and maintaining
a biodiesel reactor entails. By bringing “Fuelmeister” to the 2005 Caltech Earth Day,
we were able to exhibit a biodiesel reactor and to further learn about adapting a more
efficient version to the Caltech campus.
Jules Dervaes, who has prior expertise in

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biodiesel reactors with “Path to Freedom,” was an invited speaker at a Caltech ESW
meeting and remains an open source of knowledge and a potential consultant for this
project.




We also have the organizational ski
lls necessary to successfully launch and maintain
this project from our group’s

experience
with coordinating various events and projects
over our two year history. We have organized a seminar series featuring leaders in
sustainable development, field tri
ps and video screenings on relevant topics including
the need for an alternative fuel source. We have become more adept at anticipating
potential hurdles and addressing them after playing an integral role in setting up the
“Appropriate Design for the Devel
oping World” option in Prof. Ken Pickar’s
E/ME105 “Engineering Design of Products” class.



We also benefit from having a very diverse membership, including undergraduate and
graduate students as well as staff members and faculty, from a wide range of
disc
iplines including engineering, biology, chemistry, and product/industrial design.
Thus we feel confident in our ability to successfully take on this ambitious project.


V)
John van Deusen has contacted:


-

Deborah Walker, of Caltech Dining Services


-

Joe

Parker, Superintendent of Shops


-

Casimir
S
cislowicz, Director of
Environment, Health and Safety Services


-

Reza Ohadi, Associate Director of Campus Operations

to discuss logistical and safety issues surrounding this proposal. This contact was by
telep
hone and so we have no written record of this. Joe Parker was contacted to find
out

where we could set up the processor. He is the one that has procured the space for
us in the satellite area.

Reza Ohadi was contacted to keep him abreast of

what our
pla
ns were.
John van Deusen has been

in constant c
ontact with Casimir Scislowicz
.
He

sent them all an email to invite them to see the Fuel Meister

system that was
demonstrated

at Earth

D
ay
. Good communication, coordination, and cooperation with
Caltech sta
ff will obviously be essential to the success of this endeavor.


O
ur proposal
clearly
offer
s

an opportunity to collaborate or share

resources with other
entities on campus.

We see the potential to improve the sustainability of several
campus facilities as very exciting. We would be taking a waste product, used cooking
oil, away from Caltech Dining Services, thus saving them money, and converting this
waste into a useful, c
heap, relatively clean fuel for use by Campus Operations and
potentially the entire Caltech community.







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APPENDICES:


I)

Detailed Budget Spreadsheet


II)

An educational article about small
-
scale biodiesel production