Biodiesel classroom coming to CCHS

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When Rudolph Diesel demonstrated his diesel engine at the 1900 World Expo, he used peanut oil for fuel.

Diesel, whose first successful engine just three years earlier proved that fuel could be ignited without a spark, continues to inspire forward-thinking minds more than a century later.

In 2008, when it costs more than ever to operate an engine, members of the environmentally conscious public are looking for other ways to power our fast-paced society.

Those who are curious about alternative fuels will find an interesting demonstration at Chilton County High School on July 31 when the school’s Agriscience Department will host a portable biodiesel classroom.

Beginning at 9 a.m., Ernst Cebert with the Alabama A&M University Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources will show off the school’s biodiesel classroom on wheels.

Cebert, an assistant research professor, will talk about the rotation crop canola as used in the making of biodiesel fuel. He will demonstrate how the canola seed is pressed into oil, which is turned into usable fuel for the engine.

“It runs cleaner than diesel when it’s refined,” said agriscience instructor Willie Harris. “It could be something farmers could grow here in Central Alabama in the off season.”

One advantage canola has over wheat is that it can be grown in more months of the year, Harris explained.

The nearest processing facility that presses the seed into oil is found in Georgia, but proponents of biodiesel want one in Alabama.

“Farmers could diversify their operation and make more money,” Harris said. “There is an unlimited amount of potential.”

Everyone is welcome to stop by and ask questions. Teachers who attend can receive technical update hours for their attendance.

The “classroom” is a collaborative effort between Department of Agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks and Alabama A&M University. It provides an in-depth look at how biodiesel fuel may be produced and informs public officials, business leaders, and citizens across the state about the ease of the process.

“It is important that people in Alabama have an opportunity to learn about alternative fuels,” Sparks said. “The mobile biodiesel classroom has been a great teaching tool around the state, and I encourage municipality leaders to come and see how it is produced.”