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Amy Myers, Iowa Energy Center, (515) 294-4391
Jon Van Gerpen, Mechanical Engineering, (515) 294-5563
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University will host three workshops on the production and use of biodiesel fuel. The workshops are offered through the ISU Extension Academy of Outreach Institutes, and are for persons interested in the management, analysis or production of biodiesel fuel. They will be held at the Biomass Energy Conversion Center (BECON), a research facility of the Iowa Energy Center, in Nevada.

Cost-effective production of biodiesel, a fuel produced by the chemical reaction of vegetable oil or animal fat with alcohol, has been a primary goal of the BECON facility for the past three years. Iowa State mechanical engineering professor Jon Van Gerpen, who has headed the biodiesel research program since its inception, will lead the workshop series. He will be joined by Brent Shanks of ISU's chemical engineering department, Rudy Pruszko of the ISU Center for Industrial Research and Service, Gerhard Knothe of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, and Davis Clements of Renewable Products Development Laboratories.

"Our goal is for these workshops to provide prospective producers the opportunity to gain a hands-on perspective on how biodiesel fuel works and to teach them the best methods by which to produce it," Van Gerpen said.

The first workshop, Business Management for Biodiesel Producers, will be Oct. 23-25. In addition to studying diesel fuel marketing and biodiesel plant financing, participants will develop business plans for various biodiesel producer case studies, allowing them to see the importance of effective management.

In Biodiesel Analytical Methods (Dec. 11-13), participants will focus on scientific analysis of the fuel produced. Participants will perform analytical procedures to ensure quality production, thus gaining practical production skills and an understanding of various production topics, such as quality control, safe laboratory procedures, American Society for Testing and Materials specifications, sampling procedures and biodiesel blend detection.

The series will conclude with Biodiesel Production Technology (Feb. 12-14, 2003). This will summarize topics covered in the first two sessions and demonstrate specific production technologies. Participants will get hands-on experience, using the equipment and methods a professional producer would use.

For more information and to register on line, go to


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