Author Information

Brandon Ackley


In 2011, the U.S. consumed over 18 million barrels per day of refined petroleum products and biofuels; almost 22% of global petroleum consumption. This includes oil used for transportation, electricity, and production of consumer products. More than half of this oil was imported from foreign countries, and in his 2006 State of the Union Address President Bush warned that, “We have a serious problem, America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world”. With the need for new energy sources more apparent than ever, serious research is needed to further the advancement of alternative fuels, so that they may become a more practical source of energy. Biodiesel is an alternative fuel to petroleum diesel, and is produced from renewable and/or recycled resources. Biodiesel’s benefits include reduced emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, plus reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The process of making biodiesel involves transesterification of triacyl-glycerides in Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) with methanol, using potassium hydroxide (KOH) as a catalyst.

Research in Dr. Brush’s group has focused on developing an efficient and cost-effective process for converting 50 liter (13 gallon) batches of Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) from BSU cafeterias into biodiesel fuel for campus use. However, in a detailed analysis of our efficiency in producing biodiesel by this traditional process, we found that this “simple” transesterification reaction is only one small part of a complex, interrelated, and inefficient overall production process.

Note on the Author

Brandon Ackley is a junior Chemistry major with a concentration in professional chemistry. Brandon began doing research in the summer of 2011 as part of the STREAMS (STudent REtention Across Mathematics and Science) Summer Bridge program. STREAMS invites 16 incoming freshman in the STEM field to participate in 3 weeks of intensive class and research work. Brandon conducted this research under the mentorship of Dr. Edward Brush (Chemistry) with funding from a 2013 Adrian Tinsley Program summer research grant. Brandon presented this research at the 247th American Chemical Society National Convention in Dallas, TX.

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