ISU offers five-day biodiesel workshop

By | March 01, 2004
Iowa State University's reformatted Biodiesel Workshop will be held March 22-26, covering three topics in a five-day format.

Held at the Iowa Energy Center's Biomass Conversion (BECON) facility in Nevada, Iowa (just outside of Ames), participants will have access to a 0.5-mmgy biodiesel pilot plant, superb laboratory facilities and the professional instruction of a diverse and highly qualified team of experts.

According to Jon Van Gerpen, a professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University and one of several professionals facilitating the workshop, the event is expected to draw a broad range of professionals from all over the world. Attendees will range from existing biodiesel producers seeking basic refresher courses to novices looking to learn more about the business and science of production.

"It appeals to a broad cross-section of people interested in biodiesel production and marketing," Van Gerpen said. "Some aspects of the workshop approach fairly high levels of chemistry, but that doesn't seem to bother attendees that have little or no background in chemistry. Everyone will take something away from it."

The workshop is broken down into three topics (each category was formerly held separately as stand alone three-day workshops): Biodiesel Production Technology, Biodiesel Analytical Methods and Business Management for Biodiesel Producers.

Sessions on production include hands-on training utilizing the BECON pilot plant, as well as a review of biodiesel chemistry, process engineering, post reaction processing, fuel specifications and properties, feedstock preparation, treatment and recovery of sidestreams, fuel transportation, storage, plant operations and safety. Sessions on analytical methods, largely based in the lab, include a review of procedures that determine essential biodiesel quality. Sessions on business management offer attendees information on business plan development, plant financing, plant management as well as legal and regulatory issues.

Workshop leaders include Van Gerpen; Rudy Pruszko, a chemical engineer for the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS); Dr. L. Davis Clements, founder and president of Renewable Products Development Laboratories (RPDL); Dr. Gerhard Knothe, an organic polymer chemist for the USDA's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research; and Dr. Brent Shanks, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Iowa State University.

For more information about the workshop, visit
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