Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Uphill Battle with Biodiesel Manufacturing in the Winter

Hello Everyone,
As with any mechanically-based system with pumps and valves and hoses, there are maintenance requirements. We weren't expecting these so soon, I have to admit. However, biodiesel is not a friendly substance in cold weather. The slide show below depicts the Senior students and I taking the methoxide tank completely off, disconnecting hoses and valves in an attempt to find a glycerin blockage. I could easily be discouraged by this, however, this is he real world when it comes to manufacturing engineering and even life....things go wrong. The key is to step back, develop a "plan of attack", and slowly and carefully execute the plan. Evaluate the plan along the way because, guess what, sometimes the plan changes!! Nevertheless, we found the blockage and reassembly is on the agenda after the holidays!
I was particularly proud of Sami Jo today as she got right in there and got dirty with me. Kara helped a lot, as her primary job was documentation and photography.
Special thanks to my dad, Larry Russell Bryant. If it wasn't for his donation of large vice grips, channel locks, pipe grabber (?), and a pipe wrench our dis-assembly wouldn't have happened! Thanks Dad!!

Next steps...we will learn how to REPROCESS a batch of biodiesel that did not process as expected. Lessons Learned: add a couple of gallons of methanol to the methoxide tank prior to adding the lye. Make sure the lye is completely dissolved so that the small holes in the Schedule 90 will not get clogged. Make biodiesel in an area with atmospheric temperature of 70 or above. Drain all hoses and pipes after each batch. I am sure if it wasn't midnight (the only quiet time around here), I could think of several more!!

Hope you enjoy the slide show!

Monday, November 21, 2011

ETCA Members Participate in the Inaugural Business Concept Competition

I am so proud of ETCA members Jeremy Mackin and Alex Myers for competing and being awarded one of the $1000 scholarships for their business concept idea. Jamison Roberts was also a partner in this endeavor and I am proud of him too, as well as the other participants and winners. Congrats to all!

I was not able to attend the competition on Saturday, however I got the full run-down today in Senior Project class (Mackin and Myers are in this class). They actually said they probably would have been more nervous if I had been there! Anyway, the Senior Project class sat in circle today and dissected the constructive criticism given to the group by the judges. Our thoughts took off and it was apparent that an action item list must be made!!

The competition was sponsored by the Lindsey Wilson College Center for Entrepreneurship. This amazing addition to Lindsey's efforts to connect to the community and help the small business is awesome! You see, this is a win-win partnership. The business students get real life case studies that will help prepare them for a career in business/marketing/accounting, etc. (as opposed to fictional people and businesses) and the case study participant (a real business) profits from the hard work of the students by walking away with at least a real business plan that any bank would accept when applying for a loan to start the business of one's dreams! My hat's off to Linda Grider for leading this Competition as well as the "Build Your Own Job" Seminar series, in which over 120 people from 13 counties attended. This seminar series included 8 individual lunch seminars (Yes...lunch was provided and FREE!!) ranging from accounting practices to staffing to business plan documentation. Each attendee walked away with a folder that had a copy of the presentation, contact information, and a certificate of attendance. Great program! The Center for Entrepreneurship is scheduled to take residence at the corner of Burkesville St. and the Public Square (same side as Cafe on the Square) on January 17th. Guess who's going to try to occupy some space for small business incubation???.....ETCA winners Jeremy Mackin, Alex Myers, and Jamison Roberts! Woo Hoo!!

As a Senior Project class, I try to keep everything project based and geared toward energy...making biodiesel and solar panels. However, when a program like this comes along that I believe will benefit students during college, career, and citizenship, I venture off the beaten path a little. We're back on track as of tomorrow, though. Draining glycerin, ordering supplies, and re-processing a batch of biodiesel. Then...Gobble Gobble!

Have a great night and great Thanksgiving season if I don't talk with you before Thursday!! I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about what Lindsey Wilson College is doing to incorporate our high school students, college students, and community members/business people into a unit that can rely on each other for future success! EXCITING STUFF!!