Chemical engineering major Emmanuel Pitia is part of UNH’s Biodiesel Group, an interdepartmental group focused on a variety of projects related to this alternative fuel. Using a SURF grant, Pitia expanded on the group’s research by investigating the use of Jatropha plant for creating biodiesel. The Jatropha plant is a large perennial shrub capable of thriving in varied climates. It is seen as a promising source for biodiesel production.
Pitia spent the summer working at Egypt's National Research Center, where he extracted oil from Jatropha seeds using two methods: solvent and mechanical. Next, he quantified the yield of the extracted oil. Then, using the catalytic process of transesterification, he converted the oil to biodiesel.
A feature article about Pitia's work appeared in the 2007 edition of Inquiry: www.unh.edu/inquiryjournal/07/features/wolf.html