In May of this year, President Bush visited the West Point Biodiesel Refinery and James Madison University in West Point & Harrisonburg, Virginia to congratulate local businesses and government leaders on their foresight in bringing about production of Biodiesel in their community. One of the organizations working with West Point Biodiesel is James Madison University.

“What I think is interesting is the folks here have combined farming and modern science, and by doing so, you’re using one of the worlds oldest industries to power some of the world’s newest technologies” said the President.

In extolling the virtues of diesel and biodiesel technology, the President went on to say: “About half of newly registered passenger cars in western Europe are now equipped with diesel engines.—According to the department of Energy, if diesel vehicles made up 20% of our fleet in 15 years, we would save 350,000 barrels of oil a day. That’s about a quarter of what we import every day from Venezuela.—Biodiesel burns more completely and produces less air pollution than gasoline or regular diesel.—-And every time we use home-grown biodiesel, we support American farmers, not foreign oil producers.” President Bush JMU

President Bush talks about Biodiesel in West Point, Va. On May 16, 2005

Two weeks after the President’s visit, two faculty members from James Madison University traveled to the NAFTC National Training Lab to attend the maiden presentation of the new NAFTC Biodiesel production course, Overview of Biodiesel.

The course was presented by Rich Cregar, NAFTC Headquarter’s Instructor.

Professor Chris Bachmann and Chuck McCarty, Alternative Fuels Coordinator, of JMU attended the two day session and were very pleased with the course. Consortium members in attendance included Marv Argersinger, Jim Pitts, Clarence Davenport, John Wilson and Tony Rish. As Professor Bachmann wrote: “Outstanding course! I learned a good deal and certainly gained a different perspective on a variety of issues.—Well Done”.

While the nature of biofuels and processes necessary for production of biodiesel were introduced in the classroom, the group adjourned frequently to the shop where they participated in the production of a 30 gallon batch of fuel made from waste vegetable oil obtained from a local Morgantown restaurant. The group was assisted by one of NAFTC’s student workers, Andrew Schmidt who is studying mechanical engineering at WVU.

Fatty Acid Slide

A slide from the NAFTC presentation which discusses the nature of various fatty acids- the essential component of biodiesel! NAFTC Graphic

The presentation also dealt with each individual aspect of the ASTM D 6751 quality standards for biodiesel and some of the issues revolving around the use of high biodiesel concentrations (above B5) and modern high pressure injection systems such as common rail injection. Many Common Rail systems inject the fuel into the combustion chamber at pressures exceeding 30,000 PSI!

crd pump-bosch

Details of the Bosch Common Rail fuel delivery pump, is discussed in detail during the NAFTC presentation. This pump is widely used in many light duty applications, including the Dodge Ram Diesel, Freightliner’s Sprinter and the Mercedes-Benz E320 Diesel. Photo courtesy of The Robert Bosch Corporation

After completion of the course, Professor Bachmann visited with Rich Cregar and Randall Levelle, NAFTC Assistant Director-Programs, and discussed some of the biodiesel research going on at the College of Integrated Science and Technology at JMU. One of the projects being conducted by students is the construction of a diesel powered Trike. An old VW Beetle floorpan, with its transaxle and drive axles, is being mated to a VW 1600cc diesel engine and a Yamaha motorcycle fork. As of their visit, the vehicle was still under construction but coming along nicely.

JMU Trike 1

Photo progress of the mating of a diesel engine, VW chassis and Yamaha front frame to produce a biodiesel fueled Trike.
Photo courtesy of James Madison University

Below: The anticipated result

JMU Trike 2

Photo courtesy of James Madison University

Bomb Calorimeter

Photo courtesy of James Madison University

A bomb calorimeter. This device is used by JMU students to compare the energy per gallon of petroleum diesel and biodiesel produced from different feedstocks

It was suggested during the post course evaluation that the NAFTC incorporate the use of a calorimeter in the biodiesel course curriculum. This would enable students to quantify the energy density of various feedstocks, using the energy density of petroleum diesel as a baseline. This suggestion is being considered.

The NAFTC Biodiesel course was repeated on July 27 & 28. Once again it was a success. Appreciation of biodiesel as part of the answer to our need for clean air and energy independence is spreading! From the White House itself, to places like James Madison University, West Virginia University and the NAFTC, the word is finally getting out!

Watch the NAFTC Calender for further offerings of this course!

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