Mississippi State Turning Sludge Into Biodiesel

John Davis

Researchers at Mississippi State University are working on a project that will turn wastewater sludge into biodiesel. And to help them out, the Environmental Protection Agency has given the school $200,000 toward the project.

This story from the Starkville (MS) Daily News has more:

“The research and development of sustainable energy technologies can translate into both economic and environmental success,” said Jimmy Palmer, the EPA’s regional administrator. “EPA is committed to promoting the development of clean, sustainable and affordable energy sources.”

With the project, researchers want to increase the amount of oil that could be generated from wastewater treatment facilities, said Rafael Hernandez, an MSU assistant chemical engineering professor and one of the lead investigators on the project.

The water is treated by microorganisms and a fraction of these microorganisms are wasted every day. These wasted microorganisms are sludge created at a waste water treatment facility, Hernandez said.
Researchers have previously discovered that these microorganisms could be extracted and the extract is like an oil, he said. That oil could be converted into biodiesel.

Officials point out that there will be the double benefit of cleaning up the wastewater while producing a renewable energy source that will cut fuel costs.

Mississippi State is becoming quite the place for renewable energy. As you might remember from my May 21, 2008 post, the Bulldogs dominated the recent Challenge X Competition that featured engineering teams from across the country developing engines to run on alternative energies.