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Jade Estling, a double major in agricultural systems management, has worked with Assistant Professor Paul Aakre on the bio-diesel project as part of an undergraduate research project. Generating creative solutions to problems is often the result of experimentation and study by experts in a field. For Senior Jade Estling, Roosevelt, Minn., finding a solution that would help reduce agriculture’s dependence on diesel fuel is part of his undergraduate research project. The farm scale seed-to-fuel bio-diesel project could result in farmers producing the fuel they need right on their own farm.
Along with Assistant Professor Paul Aakre, ’70, Estling, a double major in agriculture systems management and agronomy, has been helping develop a bio-diesel demonstration facility on campus.
The facility will have the capability to handle canola or sunflower oil, and by use of a twin screw press, produce crude vegetable oil. The oil will be made into bio-diesel by a process know as transesterification. The process essentially removes glycerol from the oil. In 24 hours, the facility processes about 1,100 pounds of canola seed yielding about 45 gallons of oil per day.
The transesterification process reduces the cold flow and the filter plugging associated with vegetable oils and also reduces the typical varnish build up in the combustion chamber of the diesel engine.
The canola-meal pellets, which result from crushing the seed and removing the oil, will be investigated as a possible dairy feed supplement by Associate Professor in Animal Science Harouna Maiga, Ph.D. Northwest Manufacturing, Inc., from Red Lake Falls, Minn., will test the pellets as a source of fuel for burning in corn stoves.
Research opportunities, like the bio-diesel project, have great potential and provide students with unique experiential learning that demonstrates our dedication to teaching, discovery and engagement.
Photo: Jade Estling, a double major in agricultural systems management, has worked with Assistant Professor Paul Aakre on the bio-diesel project as part of an undergraduate research project.