EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 9: 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 straight-forward and easy to do, but it is still not very economic. 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. Keep in mind the material you learned about the chemistry necessary for diesel materials from Lesson 2 and the brief review from the beginning of Lesson 8.

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 best uses of biodiesel.

Lesson 9 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Steps for Completing Lesson 9
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Watch the 3-part Biodiesel Production Demonstration videos 9.5
2 Homework #7 9.5


If you have any questions, please send them to All Course Instructors through ANGEL e-mail. I will check daily to respond. If your question is one that is relevant to the entire class, I may respond to the entire class rather than individually.