Optimizing production of biofuels

Professor James G. Goodwin Jr., Chairman of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his team are investigating methods of optimizing production of biofuels from animal fats to protect the environment from greenhouse gases, provide a renewable source of fuels, and reduce the need for foreign oil.

Dr. Goodwin’s goal is to develop improved procedures for most efficiently and economically generating biodiesel from recycled grease and rendered animal fats using new catalysts and elevated operating temperatures. He has developed a three-phase reaction system in which the solid-phase catalyst, liquid-phase fat and gaseous-phase alcohols react.

Dr. Goodwin’s research could yield cost savings of $0.25 per gallon or more on production of biodiesel from animal fats. In addition, with his system, the high free fatty acid content of animal fats would not cause problems with soap formation but, in fact, would be beneficial for use in the system.