Don’t Just Eliminate Talahib, Convert It Into Biodiesel
Talahib or kans grass(Saccharum spontanaem) is a common nuisance grass that thrives on dle lots and farms as well as on gardens, pots, terreza, roofs and gutters, fruit trees, and even on cracks of concrete surfaces.
It so irritating that one even has to allot a yearly budget to eliminate them on a regular basis. Otherwise, it overruns your plants, dirty up your patio and farm, and eats up soil nutrients that should be absorbed by the crop.
Like plants and animals, talahib has oil content or organic triglycerides that can be converted to a potent and environment friendly fuel called biodiesel.
Biodiesel can be used 100 percent or in blends at any proportions with diesel on any diesel engine without modification. Having an oxygen in its molecules, biodiesel compared to diesel has better combustibility (higher cetane number), higher lubricity (less wear and tear, lower noise and vibration), produces less smoke, and has superior engine cleaning ability.
There are two ways of extracting the oil out of talahib. One is by steam distillation, which is similar to refluxing liquor. Oil that floats over water is collected. Using this process, one can get yields as high as 30 percent to 52 percent by weight depending on the maturity of the grass.
One with nature flowers was found to give better oil yields. In this case, a simple kitchen steamer attached with spiral copper tubing was used. The spiral tubing was cooled by running water from the faucet.
Another way is by drying, then squeezing it through an expeller. This expeller is similar to a meat grinder except that the holes at the end are hindered and heated. The one tried in this procedure was a manual expeller manufactured by Piteba: Using this process, an oil yield from dried and cut talahib gave only 28 percent to 47 percent by weight.
The mild jasmine scented oil extracted totals 21 liters from an equivalent talahib growing on a 200 m2 area. A sample (see picture) is shown on the left bottle below in comparison with crude coconut oil. It has a density of 0. 86 g/ml and has an appearance of clear golden yellow, which is lighter than that of crude coconut oil.
It was also observed that long drying period of greater than a day caused an abrupt increase in free fatty acids content of the oil ranging 5 percent or even higher with longer time lapsed. This maybe due to enzymatic reaction of the leaves. Immediate processing therefore is recommended right after harvest.
Talahib oil was then processed to biodiesel using an automatic biodiesel reactor (IPO # 2200800524). Appropriate amount of catalyst and alkyl alcohol were mixed thoroughly for five minutes in the reactor vessel, while the oil was being heated at the processor vessel.
The resulting alkoxide solution was then pumped and mixed with the oil in the processor vessel for another 15 minutes of transesterification reaction to talahib-alklester or talahib-biodiesel.
Afterwards, the glycerine that settled was removed by gravitydraining. Washing and aeration followed, which purified further the 100 percent conversion of the talahib oil to B 100 diesel or pure biodiesel.
In trying to optimized and/or duplicate the results, a dry season harvest of mature flowered talahib was undertaken. This time a better yield of 158 ml oil per square meter was observed, indicating that the grass has higher oil content during summer and/or at mature growth stage.
A better, safe and easy to operate Compact Biodiesel Processor System (IPO # 22009000149) was used this time for more efficient and faster conversion of the oil to talahib-biodiesel. Using this, effortless 100 percent conversion was achieved. Optimum efficiency was noted, particularly due to translucent conical bottom on the distinct and discernable separation of glycerine and soap interface residue from good talahib-biodiesel.
The evaluation of the talahib-biodiesel was also found conforming to both PNS standard 2020-2003/DOE 002-2003 and ASTM D6751-07b. Clarity in comparison to diesel with 2 percent blend and commercial B 100 biodiesel being used as additive purchased from petrol station was found unparalleled.
Flame flash test is also a very important physico-chemical characterization of diesel and biodiesel. The difference in soot, smoke, flame color, combustibility, heat generated, and zapping sound of fuel being burned can be visibly ascertained and differentiated. Even biodiesel sourced from different feedstock has distinctive flame properties. In these regards, flame flash test of talahib-biodiesel being unique was observed energy filled and bursting with power.
The contribution of grass-biodiesel cannot be assessed as of this moment, but the presence of grass laden idle lots, hectares of planted and unplanted arable, and even unarable lands everywhere in dicates that benefits of this when tapped can be promising and overwhelming. And we don’t have to spend even a cent in land preparation and planting unlike in Jatropha curcas.
This is not only for the individual, not only for his engine, not only for his fuel savings, not only for his environment, not only to suppress the impending global warming, but also to envigorate the economy.
The mere incorporation of 1 percent biodiesel into diesel as imposed by Biofuel Act of 2006 has saved our economy $45 billon in oil importation last year. Maybe we, farmers, can start this endeavor. By doing so, maybe we can convince our political leaders that a very minimal portion of their pork barrel when coursed on this viable project can make long way for the country and for its endowed people.
By. Engr. Ricardo F. Capistrano