The look on Adam Bigelow’s face is a mix of disgust and admiration. “I’m a grease-monkey!” he says as he transfers waste grease collected from kitchen fryers across the county to vats where it will eventually be converted into fuel at Haywood Community College. As a vegetarian, his current position as Biodiesel Project Coordinator for HCC is the ultimate irony.

“Liquid gold!” he proudly proclaims as he holds up a mason jar to show off his finished product—biodiesel. Bigelow along with HCC Automotive Instructors Bruce Campbell and Darrell Honeycutt have been refining their fuel-making skills with the college’s new biodiesel “refinery”—funded by a 2008 grant from the North Carolina Biofuels Center.

Students taking Campbell’s Introduction to Alternative Fuels course and Honeycutt’s Diesel Engines are learning the chemistry and mechanics of biodiesel while producing it for use in several of HCC’s diesel vehicles.

“The exhaust smells just like French fries,” says Honeycutt as he cranks up a diesel van that he and Campbell have filled up with their recent batch of fuel.

The college has also partnered with the Haywood County Recycling Program to produce fuel for campus and county diesel vehicles. The refinery on campus will be used for teaching and demonstration purposes, while the county’s refinery will be used to fuel part of its fleet of recycling trucks—furthering the county’s recycling and green practices initiative.

“While the chemistry of the process takes a while to get your head around, making biodiesel is like cooking…you follow a recipe, use the right ingredients, and let it ‘cook’ for the right amount of time,” says Bigelow. “Anyone can build a refinery at home with minimal up-front cost and learn how to make biodiesel.”

Haywood Community College will be offering its first “Biodiesel Production” course open to the public to learn how to make biodiesel using a ‘waste-grease model’ and build a biodiesel reactor. It will be held beginning Monday, October 19 and run through Wednesday, 21 from 5 until 8:30 p.m. Cost of the course is $20.

The course will include design and equipment considerations for making a simple biodiesel reactor, and understanding the chemical and mechanical processes behind biodiesel production. Lab sessions will include all stages of biodiesel production and culminate in preparing a batch of biodiesel from waste grease.

Other topics presented in the course will include: safety practices associated with biodiesel production; feedstock sources, collection, and storage; proper techniques to prepare biodiesel using feedstock and reactants; the basic chemistry involved in the process of producing biodiesel; and usage specifications and issues with modern diesel engines.

This Pilot course is partially funded by a grant from the BioFuels Center of North Carolina. Students should bring materials for note taking. All other materials for the course will be providedin class.

For more information please contact Howard Kline, Project Manager at 828-564-5113 or hkline@haywood.edu. To enroll in the course, please Contact Enrollment Management in the Student Services Building on the HCC Campus or call 828-627-4500.