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Spring 2004 - Senior project

Destination Purdue > Spring 2004 - Senior project

Senior project advances alternative fuel research

By Dale Metzger

With prices of gasoline at a record high, the need for alternative soures of energy is more apparent than ever in the United States. Hybrid cars are becoming more common, and different types of fuel are being produced and researched.

According to Dan Taylor, student and acaedmic services specialist in Purdue University's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE), it is a slow process to produce a sample of an alternative fuel and test it.

For his senior project, Will Smith, a recently graduated machine systems engineering student in ABE, built a machine that can speed up this process. "It makes a fuel from any oil that contains fat," Smith said. This technology is not new; the size of the machine is what makes it special.

"This biodiesel reactor is much smaller than any other like it," Taylor said. "This improves research capabilities because it can quickly make small samples of fuels. The researcher can then compare the horsepower production and emissions from different samples."

Smith is currently in graduate school at Purdue and is still tinkering with his machine to find ways to improve it.