Biodiesel Production Jobs
While ethanol production seeks to make fuel from the alcohol created by fermenting plants, biodiesel production is all about turning vegetable oils or animal fat into a form of diesel fuel.
The government provides subsidies for biodiesel programs as well and is thus heavily invested in researching how to make this form of fuel more economically feasible.
There are a number of different methods for creating biodiesel, but the first step at any production plant is to clean the product to create oil that is as pure as possible. Some companies recycle used oil from restaurants and other facilities, while others create vegetable oil directly from corn, soybeans, or other products. There are also plants that purchase oil directly from smaller companies or farms that turn the crops into oil. Like with crops grown for ethanol, the crops grown for biodiesel don’t have to be grown any differently from the crops grown for human or animal consumption or textiles.
Animal fats can be used in this biodiesel process as well, though it is not economically logical to raise animals solely for the purpose of creating fuel. Slaughterhouses, however, can sell some of their waste products to biodiesel plants.
Most biodiesel plants use a method called transesterification to create fuel from the oil. Methanol is added to a batch of oil, which causes a chemical reaction. The resulting products are allowed to settle, and after purification, workers are left with biodiesel and glycerine. The glycerine is sold to companies to product items like soap, while the biodiesel can be used directly as fuel or mixed with regular petroleum diesel fuel.
Working at a biodiesel plant can be dangerous, as you’ll be dealing with highly reactive chemicals and flammable materials. Most plants require a number of on-the-job safety training courses, and they have strict regulations that must be followed. These jobs typically do not require workers to have a degree, though if you wish to move into a manger position, it pays to have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or another science field.
You can also work doing biodiesel research. One of the main debate points with fuel production is whether or not it makes sense, both economically and environmentally, to product biodiesel for fuel. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to improve the production process, as well as developing cars and other machinery that can run efficient using biodiesel and other biofuels.