Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo will feature biodiesel panel

By Ron Kotrba | May 31, 2010
Posted June 30, 2010, at 12:43 p.m. CST

Biodiesel will be one of many panel topics at the Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo in Boston, Aug. 4-6. One particularly relevant panel to the region, The Ongoing Pursuit of Biodiesel Production and Process Enhancements in the Northeast, will feature Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board.

Scott will address what role biodiesel can play in the Northeast to reduce fossil fuel dependence while providing jobs and economic stimulus for the area. He will also discuss regional-specific feedstock options, and what the future holds for new, alternative biodiesel feedstocks. He will also talk about heating oil applications in the Northeast; several New England states, and the city of New York, which have either already passed biodiesel or Bioheat mandates, or are seriously considering it.

University students researching and studying biodiesel applications are the future of the industry, so University of New Hampshire students Rebecca Wilson and Gina Chaput are scheduled to present on their two independent biodiesel projects.

Wilson is planning to present on her project to optimize biodiesel production. She's been working on a bench-scale two batch process. She said the project started last fall and she has spent the entire year putting the system together. Things haven't been seamless, she said, but that's how research projects go. "Six of the nine valves broke, we had to replace tubing, our main processor broke, then our soap adsorption column broke," she said. A few of the resultant biodiesel properties she's analyzing include the heat of combustion, viscosity, total glycerin count and acid number.

Chaput will present on her ongoing algae project, looking at various concentrations and makeup of wastewater streams for use as nutrients for algae production. She said some of the aspects of the project include looking at using urea rather than potassium nitrate as a chemical nutrient, and wastewater with and without salts. "Our metrics include cell counts, absorbance, biomass productivity, lipid content, determining if our hypothesis that substituting urea for potassium nitrate will increase biomass yield and oil content," she said.

Ron Kotrba, editor of Biodiesel Magazine, is scheduled to moderate this panel.

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