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Scientist gives presentation on possible biofuel processing method

Published: 09/12/12 4:11PM
By: booner

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Dr.  Umakanta Jena, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Georgia, poses for a photo after presenting his research at a Fort Valley State University seminar in the Stallworth Agricultural Research Building on Sept. 10.

The development of fossil fuel reserves, usually found deep in the earth’s crust, takes thousands of years using a geological process. However, modern scientists may have developed a way to speed that method up considerably.

Dr. Umakanta Jena, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Georgia’s College of Engineering, gave a 60-minute presentation to about 35 Fort Valley State University students, faculty and staff. The presentation, entitled “Thermochemical Conversion of Microalgae and Biomass Into Biofuels and Co-Products,” was held Sept.10 in the conference room of the Stallworth Agricultural Research Building. The presentation was part of FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology monthly research seminar program.

“We are trying to mimic the geological process used to get oil that takes thousands of years,” Jena said. By using a method discussed in his presentation, he said, that same process could take only a few hours. It’s similar to pressure cooking. During the thermochemical process, algae, and animal or human waste, is broken down into compounds that can be used to produce bio-oil or biogas. Jena says algae are the preferred plant because a lot of it can be grown in a small area.

 “We are still testing the possibilities, but it’s not quite yet going into the planning process,” Jena said, when discussing the feasibility of using this technique to make biofuel. He hopes to see refineries using this method in the future.

Dr. Mahipal Singh, an assistant professor for FVSU’s College of Agriculture, started the seminars in 2008 to provide FVSU students and faculty an opportunity to share their work.