Thinking Small for Biodiesel

John Davis

While much of the talk regarding biodiesel these days has been about mega-refineries that try to keep up with the growing demand for the green fuel, there was some recent “small” talk about the biofuel… in fact, microscopic talk.

nanotxlogo.bmpThis story in the Fort Worth (TX) Business Press says at the recent conference on nanotechnology, NanoTx 2007, in Dallas, scientists discussed how to apply the control of matter on the molecular level to biodiesel production:

Last year, researchers at UT Arlington’s college of engineering developed a microreactor that could dramatically reduce the time and cost needed to process biodiesel fuel.

“We are actively seeking companies that build biodiesel refineries to be our partners in this nanotechnology development effort,” said Dr. Richard Billo, associate dean of engineering at the school. “The microreactor can take what is now a 90-minute process to convert vegetable oil to biodiesel fuel and reduce it to less than four minutes, even down to as little as six seconds, depending on some beginning variables,” he said.

nanotx1.JPGThe energy segment of the conference (pictured at right) was reported to be very popular as the scientists also talked about how to recapture heat produced from engines.