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Mississippi State University Receives $200,000 for Biodiesel Research


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded $200,000 to Mississippi State University (MSU) for research to transform waste water treatment plant sludge into biodiesel. Funds from the grant, presented by EPA Regional Administrator Jimmy Palmer, will build upon the research that MSU is conducting in the field of renewable, sustainable fuels for the future.

This research will be conducted as part of EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s Regionally Applied Research Effort program. The project is expected to have environmental benefits for the air, land and water. In addition to the development of a new feedstock for biodiesel, the research effort is also expected to reduce the volume of sludge that has to be disposed of, thereby reducing the amount of pollution from runoff.

“The research and development of sustainable energy technologies can translate into both economic and environmental success,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA is committed to promoting the development of clean, sustainable, and affordable energy sources.”

This project will address the availability of sufficient feedstock to produce biofuel economically and in an environmentally friendly manner. This is a fundamental problem facing the production of renewable biofuels in large enough quantities to displace a large portion of the petroleum the nation now uses. The effort will not require the use of crops such as soybeans or canola to produce biodiesel. In addition, it should also reduce biodiesel supply chain costs by locating the feedstock source and potential production facilities near larger population centers. The project has the potential to convert waste water treatment facilities to fuel producing facilities – a truly renewable resource. The research team, led by Dr. Rafael Hernandez and Dr. Todd French, will conduct research into microorganisms to extract lipids, which are the fatty substances, from the sludge. It will then be converted into biodiesel. The research team also will evaluate the life cycle energy costs to determine the process’s net energy and environmental effectiveness.

The grant is part of Agency’s Regionally Applied Research Effort program and will be administered through the Agency’s Office of Research and Development. Projects for the program must address an environmental issue within one of EPA’s ten regions and are recommended for funding by that region. The development of clean, sustainable and renewable energy sources is a key effort for Region 4. The Regional office hosted the “Dialog on Clean Energy in the Southeast” conference in December 2007, where the expansion in the use of environmentally friendly biofuels was identified as a regional priority.


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