EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 8: Biodiesel Production

Lesson 8: Biodiesel Production


We’ve focused on the processes used to make ethanol from fermentation and to create other products using thermochemical methods. Now we will look at making biodiesel from fats using transesterification as well as other methods being investigated. Converting vegetable oils into biodiesel is fairly straightforward and easy to do, but it is still not very economical. We will begin with a brief chemistry tutorial on the chemistry of vegetable oils and animal fats before going into transesterification. We will then discuss other methods of biodiesel production. 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain the chemistry of vegetable oil biodiesel, and several ways to make it;
  • explain how to utilize biodiesel in a diesel engine;
  • evaluate the best uses of biodiesel.

Lesson 8 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and assignment due dates.


If there is anything in the lesson materials that you would like to comment on or don't quite understand, please post your thoughts and/or questions to our Throughout the Course Questions and Comments discussion forum. The discussion forum will be checked regularly. While you are there, feel free to post responses to your classmates if you are able to help. Regular office hours will be held to provide help for EGEE 439 students.