We all know fossil fuels are finite and running out, their toxic emissions strangling the environment. A bunch of engineering students in the city seems to have a solution to this alarming problem, at least to a certain extent. The six mechanical engineering students of Rajadhani Institute of Engineering and Technology have come up with a bio-diesel blend as part of their final year project. The blend, which they assure is fuel-efficient and eco-friendly, is derived from used coconut oil. “They have come up with a bio-blend when added with diesel increases fuel efficiency at a very low emission rate. It’s not an alternative fuel, but something you can mix with diesel in a 3:7 proportion,” says Subramani N, assistant professor and guide for the project. The team includes Jayalal, Midhun Mohan, Nidheesh Chandran, Bijin, Rajeev and Nikhil K Sudheesh.
The depleting and nonrenewable resources will one day make fuels enormously expensive and according to the students another highlight of the blend is its cost-effective nature. “Instead of 1 litre diesel you need only 700 ml when you use the blend. The basic ingredient of this blend is used coconut oil that can be collected from hotels and homes. Coconut oil used for deep frying cannot be reused because of health issues. Making one litre of bio-blend from this discarded oil will cost you only around ` 10. Adding this will give you 30 percent extra mileage keeping pollution and emission of harmful gases at the most minimal level,” says Midhun Mohan
The blend is retrieved from used coconut oil through a series of transesterification process. “A total of 13 blends were developed among which the team zeroed in on the most fuel-efficient ones,” says Subramani. The blends were later mixed with additives in the test ring constructed in the college. “By adding oxygenated additives emission of harmful black smoke can be reduced. It supplies more oxygen and ensures complete combustion. That means added efficiency and lesser emission,” he explains more.
He says though lot of experimentation is going on in this field using coconut oil and transesterification method are not very common. “But none of them have used oxygenated additives. We have tried the blends with and without additives to find most advantageous ones. Additives are not very expensive so the total cost is also very low. Diesel is the most used fuel in heavy vehicles including railway locomotives. So this blend offers a cost-effective and fuel-efficient option to a large segment of users.” Midhun adds that emission is the biggest problem while developing bio-diesel blends. “Here we have used additives to tackle that issue effectively,” he says.
Another interesting aspect of the bio-blend is that it causes only minimal damage to the environment. “Based on this project we are preparing six international papers to be published in various journals,” he adds.
The team members invested a total of eight months to develop the blend. We have set up a rig and we plan to do further experimentation in the future. This project definitely has commercial possibilities,” adds Midhun.