Author Information

Michael MacMurdo


America’s transportation sector is the key link between our growing dependency on oil, and resulting global warming pollution. Petroleum in our cars and trucks accounts for two-thirds of our total oil used and one-third of the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel source and an alternative to petroleum diesel. Biodiesel burns much cleaner than petroleum diesel, producing a significantly lower amount of toxic and greenhouse gas emissions.1 Whereas, there is only a finite amount of petroleum in the earth, biodiesel is produced from renewable resources and even recycled resources such as waste vegetable oil. Despite the benefits, biodiesel has some problems with gelling at cold temperatures, and efficiency issues and high waste volumes in large scale production.2 But with the benefits biodiesel provides to human health, the environment, sustainability and the economy, it would be worthwhile to solve these problems so this resource can be utilized to its fullest potential.

Biodiesel is composed of fatty acid methyl esters derived from vegetable oils. The production of biodiesel from BSU waste vegetable oil (WVO) would provide positive impacts for the institution, including financial and educational benefits. BSU would no longer have to pay for the disposal of WVO and would not be as dependent on petroleum diesel, thus reducing the cost of fueling campus diesel vehicles. BSU would be able to use a biodiesel production facility as a learning tool for students in introductory, intermediate and advanced chemistry courses, non-major courses, undergraduate research, STREAMS and K-12 outreach. This would allow students to acquire a better understanding of biodiesel production at the lab and manufacturing scale. BSU could become a regional research, education and outreach center on biodiesel production and its use, especially for those interested in small scale production for their own business or as an educational teaching tool. With such strong benefits for BSU, its students, and the community, it is worthwhile to invest in research that will permit the actualization of this potentially lucrative renewable fuel source.

Note on the Author

Michael MacMurdo is a senior pursuing a B.S. degree in Chemistry (biochemistry concentration), with a second major in Philosophy and a minor in Biotechnology. His research was conducted during the summer and fall of 2013 with support from Adrian Tinsley and Center for Sustainability grants, and under the guidance of Dr. Edward Brush (Chemistry). Mike presented his research at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Dallas, Texas in March 2014.

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