Clarkson U. Research Improves Economics of Biodiesel

The goal of NextGen Fuel Inc. is to build technology based on its research that will advance alternative energy production and create a more cost-effective approach to making biodiesel.

To ease transfer of this chemical process technology from the lab to the biofuels marketplace, a partnership between two Clarkson University researchers — Clarkson Professor of Chemical Engineering Roshan Jachuck and Research Associate Philip Leveson — has formed with John Gaus, principal with Golden Technology Management. “Biodiesel is a renewable fuel extracted from sources such as vegetable oils or animal fats,” said Jachuck. “For example, recycled cooking grease from restaurants and food processors, soybeans or canola oil can be used separately or in combination to provide fuel to heat buildings or to power trucks. The technology we’ve developed reduces the costs of building and operating a biofuel plant by more than half. The result is that we are significantly improving the economics of the biodiesel industry.” This year New York State Governor George Pataki and State Senator James Wright provided NextGen Fuel with approximately $350,000 of grant money to build a processing plant and help develop renewable energy markets in the state. To help the company with the project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $99,500 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to Operation Oswego County, which will use the money to assist NextGen Fuel in building a state-of-the-art biodiesel fuel plant in Fulton, New York. “The plant will be able to produce as much as five-million gallons per year of transportation biodiesel or bio-heating fuel,” said Gaus, a 1989 graduate of Clarkson. “This will help offset the use of imported petroleum products while also reducing emissions. The output will then be sold to fuel distributors, who will blend it with petroleum-based fuel and sell it to truck fleets or heating fuel customers.” “I enjoy working with my alma mater, the local community, the state and federal governments, and private investors to commercialize cutting-edge technology in a manner that contributes to energy independence and economic development,” says Gaus. “It is a great example of how technology transfer can be successful.”

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