Penn State Biodiesel Plant

Penn State's role as a leader in renewable energy education and research includes an exciting and dynamic biodiesel program.
Penn State Biodiesel Plant - Articles


From fields to fuels...

This initiative is a collaborative effort of Penn State Extension, the Office of the Physical Plant, the University Fleet Garage, Farm Services, and faculty in the College of Engineering. The group not only promotes biodiesel educational opportunities for students and the community, but is also developing a demonstration of the onsite manufacture of biodiesel fuel at the university's main campus.

Plant Details

Penn State is developing a pilot-scale commercial biodiesel plant on campus that will be used to provide about 20% of the university fleet's diesel fuel needs. The ultimate goal of the project is to grow and harvest canola, press the seeds for vegetable oil, utilize the oil in university dining halls and restaurants, collect the used vegetable oil, and process it into biodiesel. The initial plant includes a 200 litre (50 gallon) batch reactor system with feedstock pretreatment and methanol recovery. The system will be expanded to include two parallel processing lines, to allow for side-by-side tests of different processing strategies and feedstocks.

Plant equipment is currently undergoing testing and modification while the building for the plant is being renovated.

Related Work

Part of this effort involves the testing of oilseed pressing methods and assessment of the preparation of food-grade material from cold pressed oil. The primary feedstock under consideration is Canola, although we also work with Flax, Sunflower, Safflower, and other oilseeds.

Doug Schaufler, Farm Services, Biodiesel Plant Director
Lysa Holland, Penn State Biodiesel Task Force Chair
Dan Ciolkosz, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering