The Biodiesel Lab is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated to help students explore the process of titration and its role in creating biodiesel fuel.
Biodiesel fuel is created from vegetable oil through a chemical process called transesterification. Unfortunately, the transesterification reaction is very sensitive to the presence of free fatty acids that are prevalent in vegetable oils. In order for the transesterification process to be efficient, the acids must be neutralized. The levels of free fatty acids, and therefore the appropriate levels of base needed, can be determined through a process called acid/base titration. A titration is a way of determining the concentration of a substance by adding a known concentration of a reagent until a certain effect is seen.
In this activity, your students will perform an acid/base titration to determine the molarity of free fatty acids in a waste vegetable oil solution.
Students will be able to
- Understand the process of titration; perform two (2) titrations
- Calculate the molarity of a solution based upon its equivalence point
- Analyze the results of the completed titrations
- Understand how these results are used to produce biodiesel fuels
- Apply their results to neutralize a large quantity of vegetable oil
Next Generation Science Standards Connections
HS-PS1-5 Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
HS-PS1-6 Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.
HS-PS1-7 Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science Connections
CHEM.8(A): define and use the concept of a mole;
CHEM.8(F): differentiate among double replacement reactions, including acid-base reactions and precipitation reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions such as synthesis, decomposition, single replacement, and combustion reactions;
CHEM.10(C): calculate the concentration of solutions in units of molarity;
CHEM.10(E): distinguish among types of solutions such as electrolytes and nonelectrolytes; unsaturated, saturated, and supersaturated solutions; and strong and weak acids and bases;