Students and companies worldwide invited to join open-source Embry-Riddle project to develop renewable jet fuel
Fri 31 Jan 2014 – Senior students at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Prescott, Arizona are taking part in an open-source project to develop jet biofuel. The ‘CapStone’ project is also inviting the participation of students and academics from universities around the world as well as companies interested in developing renewable jet fuel. The classroom lectures are filmed for worldwide consumption and a global network will allow participants to contribute to the science and technology of the project and share with experts through social media. The students will be working on further development of a biodiesel transesterification reactor invented by Dr Richard Parnas of the University of Connecticut, which is claimed to be a small, efficient and inexpensive process to recycle waste vegetable oil (WVO) into biodiesel or jet fuel. The project is being co-sponsored by DoctorBioDiesel, a local biodiesel fuel additive company, and two media and internet associates.
Embry-Riddle has a worldwide reputation specialising in aviation and aerospace higher education. “Graduating Embry-Riddle students will be expected to be ‘green conscious’ anywhere they go in their chosen aeronautical careers,” said Jeffery DeMarco, Chief Information Officer of DoctorBioDiesel. “The best aeronautical companies covet green application experience and renewable fuels are at the bleeding edge.”
Classroom lectures, building, testing and refining will be live broadcast, recorded and posted for any student to follow. Computer modelling will be on the ERAU server so that any student can apply for a login account to follow, CAD re-design and ‘virtually’ test their own individual theories about improvements to the reactor. Experts in the field are invited to Skype guest lectures on the project and aeronautical companies are encouraged to join and mentor the students. The project, which started in January, is a two-semester, one-year curriculum.
“One of the single most important reasons the students are coordinating all of this open-source energy is to create a network of potential employers that they can ‘meet’ on the internet and show they have mastered a most sought-after expertise, which is specific to the new field of renewable biofuels,” said DeMarco.
The project is aiming to extend the transesterification process from a biodiesel finished product to jet fuel. “We can make straight chain alkanes in the carbon number range of jet fuel directly from biodiesel,” claimed Parnas, who is giving a live online lecture at ERAU Prescott on February 21. “This has been done at small scale in standard chemical engineering processes that can scale easily to very large applications. The process does not use any catalysts but rather relies on a carefully designed balance of kinetics and thermodynamics. Thus the process is very inexpensive, robust and reliable.”