JULY 2008

Mississippi State University’s biodiesel research funded

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $200,000 to Mississippi State University (MSU) for research to transform waste water treatment plant sludge into biodiesel. Funds from the grant, presented by EPA regional administrator Jimmy Palmer, will build upon the research that MSU is conducting in the field of renewable, sustainable fuels for the future.

This research will be conducted as part of EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s Regionally Applied Research Effort program. In addition to the development of a new feedstock for biodiesel, the research effort is also expected to reduce the volume of sludge that has to be disposed of, thereby reducing the amount of pollution from runoff.

This project will address the availability of sufficient feedstock to produce biofuel economically and in an environmentally friendly manner. This is a fundamental problem facing the production of renewable biofuels in large enough quantities to displace a large portion of the petroleum the nation now uses.

The project has the potential to convert waste water treatment facilities to fuel producing facilities – a truly renewable resource. The research team, led by Dr. Rafael Hernandez and Dr. Todd French, will conduct research into microorganisms to extract lipids, which are the fatty substances, from the sludge. It will then be converted into biodiesel. The research team also will evaluate the life cycle energy costs to determine the process’ net energy and environmental effectiveness.

The grant is part of the Agency’s Regionally Applied Research Effort program and will be administered through the Agency’s Office of Research and Development.