UNR trying to improve biodiesel technology

By | October 01, 2004
The University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) has been awarded a $69,000 grant from the EPA to find a cleaner, cheaper way to produce biodiesel. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt announced in a Sept. 7 press conference that the grant would fund the second part of a three-phase pilot project using ethanol to create biodiesel.

The project, which began Sept. 2003, has seen students at UNR create an automated, mobile biodiesel production unit prototype that uses waste cooking oil from the university's dining center as a feedstock. The current prototype is about the size of an office desk.

Hatice Gecol, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and one of the lead researchers, said the unit has been producing biodiesel for about eight hours per day for the last 11 months. It's totaled about 3,000 gallons of biodiesel, which has been tested in university vehicles.
The next phase of the project calls for UNR researchers to analyze several oils and to seek ways to reduce the fuel's NOx emissions. The final phase of the project would include building a small-scale plant.
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