The Effect of Waste and Raw Canola Oil on the Heat of Combustion of Biodiesel

In this research project, the experimenters investigated whether the type of vegetable oil, raw or waste canola oil, used to produce biodiesel influences the heat of combustion of the fuel. Determining the heat of combustion relates to the function of biodiesel in a diesel engine. Fuels with higher heats of combustion are more fuel efficient. They produce more heat to push the pistons of a diesel engine quickly and smoothly. The experimenters hypothesized that biodiesel made from waste canola oil would have a higher heat of combustion than biodiesel made from raw canola oil. Researchers produced biodiesel from raw and waste canola oil. The waste canola oil was obtained from Rose's Family Dining: see Appendix B. Mixed with methanol (CH3OH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH), the vegetable oils separated into biodiesel and glycerin. After producing the biodiesel, the researchers used a bomb calorimeter to find the heat of combustion of the two fuels. Ten trials were conducted for each biodiesel resulting in a total of twenty data points. Based on the distribution of the data descriptively analyzed by the researchers, it was concluded that the two data sets were normally distributed. Additionally, a two sample t-test determined the significance of the data. With a p-value of 0.0071, the researchers rejected the null hypothesis. There is a significant difference in the heat capacities of raw canola biodiesel and waste canola biodiesel. From these statistical values, the researchers were forced to reject their hypothesis. Thus, the biodiesel produced from the raw canola oil had the greater heat of combustion meaning it was the more efficient fuel. With this research, people who use biodiesel to run their cars can determine which type of biodiesel would be more efficient.

Research Done By:

Rebecca Donovan
Warren Mott High School

Eric Walton
Lake Shore High School