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Highlands College Instructor Awarded Patent Entitled "Production of Biodiesel and Glycerin from High Free Fatty Acid Feedstocks"


highlands faculty member john jackam awarded patentHighlands College faculty member, John Jackam, was awarded a patent entitled “Production of biodiesel and glycerin from high free fatty acid feedstocks,” US Patent 8,728,177. A specialist in alternative energy, Jackam teaches in the Sustainable Energy Technology – Wind Program at Highlands College. The patent was awarded to Jackam and his co-inventors: Joel Pierce and Jeffrey Jones.

The patent was awarded for their original work creating a system and method for the conversion of free fatty acids to glycerides and the subsequent conversion of glycerides to glycerin and biodiesel.

“Non-petroleum and sustainable alternative methods of producing fuel is a fascinating and an increasingly important field,” said Jackam. “I am very aware that my work is based on the work of many who went before me. And I feel certain that future advances in alternative energy production will use mine to move the field forward.”

The technical details of the patent follow: The fatty acid alkyl esters are separated from the glycerin to produce a first liquid phase containing a fatty acid alkyl ester rich (concentrated) stream and a second liquid phase containing a glycerin rich (concentrated) stream. The fatty acid alkyl ester rich stream is then subjected to distillation, preferably reactive distillation, wherein the stream undergoes both physical separation and chemical reaction. The fatty acid alkyl ester rich stream is then purified to produce a purified biodiesel product and a glyceride rich residue stream. Neutralization of the alkaline stream, formed during the alkali-catalyzed transesterfication process, may proceed by the addition of a mineral or an organic acid.

“This is John’s fourth patent,” said Dr. John Garic, Dean of Highlands College. “Of course we are very proud of him. I am also extremely pleased that our students are the immediate beneficiaries of his work – both in the substance of the patent and in the role modeling which John represents to our students.”

For more information, please contact John Jackam at 406-496-3792 or Dr. John M. Garic, Dean at 406-496-3714 or Amanda Badovinac at 406-496-4828.