Producing Biodiesel Fuel

In his role as president and owner of Houston-based L&T Development, LLC, Jonathan Hillert performs a range of duties, including accounting, scheduling contractors, and accumulating the necessary permits for such construction projects as custom homes and low-income housing. Jonathan Hillert’s activities include starting a non-profit organization to serve low-income housing needs in Harris County. Jon Hillert has also expressed an interest in starting a company to produce affordable biodiesel fuel for farmers.

Made from seeds that contain oil, biodiesel fuel essentially comes from raw vegetable oil. Crops that produce seeds used in biodiesel fuel include canola and soy beans in the United States and palm and jatropha in tropical regions of the world. Animal fats and cooking oil also serve as ingredients in biodiesel fuel. The oilseeds undergo a process called transesterification, a chemical process that separates glycerin from the seeds, leaving components called methyl esters, also known as biodiesel. In addition to biodiesel fuel, this process also produces the glycerin used in soaps and high-protein meal for animal feed.

Although U.S. law defines biodiesel as products derived from plant or animal matter, other organic materials can make renewable diesel through different production methods than those used for oilseeds. Researchers continue to investigate alternatives involving algae and municipal waste.