Jason Selwitz, one of our awesome customers, works as an instructor at Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Washington and has been working on integrating Biodiesel into their existing “Plant Operations” program there.
Jason worked to obtain a grant to fund the program that allowed them to purchase a BioPro 380 EX Automated Biodiesel Processor, a SpringPro T76 Dry Wash System, and a new Springboard Biodiesel Advanced Methanol Recovery system for removing methanol from Biodiesel that’s been dry washed as well as removing methanol from Biodiesel glycerin as well.
Here’s some details Jason sent us on this exciting program:
Through the vehicle of biodiesel production, students get a chance to practice safe and effective operations, including working with tools and performing maintenance, as they process at the lab and 100-gallon/batch scales (with the help of a BioPro 380 EX), work with applied chemistry and math, troubleshoot and address normal and abnormal operating conditions, manage wastes (we deliver the glycerol to our wastewater treatment plant managed by CH2MHill – for their anaerobic digester), and compare the advantages and disadvantages of water wash vs. dry wash systems.
We will also perform methanol recovery procedures to reduce our methanol costs using equipment from Springboard Biodiesel. In addition, students are exposed to guest lectures from regulatory reps. regarding site permitting and inspections, and air quality monitoring. We will also travel to visit cheese and canola oil production facilities during the Plant Operations course this fall quarter (Tillamook and Pacific Coast Canola respectively) – and do an applied energy efficiency building application with an outside contractor (Silk Road Environmental — http://www.silkroadenvironmental.com/).
Again, our feedstock oil is a virgin canola/camelina blend donated to us by Steve and Becky Camp of LaCrosse, Whitman County, WA: http://www.oilpress.co/dealers-cfarms.php Steve is a wheat and oilseed grower, and farm-scale biodiesel processor, who serves on our program’s Advisory Board along with reps. from Imperium Renewables, WSU’s Bioproducts Science and Engineering Lab, Pacific Ethanol, GreenWood Resources, Public Works/Solid Waste for the City of Walla Walla, University of Idaho/Renewable Materials, WA Department of Commerce’s Bioenergy program, and ZeaChem. In addition to regular input and feedback from our Advisory Board, we also receive valuable technical assistance from graduates students and faculty within WSU’s Biological Systems Engineering program.
The Plant Operations course is but one of a slew of required applied science and operations-type courses for the Plant Operations program, which is part of our Energy Systems Technology Department at Walla Walla Community College, a top-ranked community and technical community college in the nation according to the Aspen Institute. Plant Operations includes a core of electrical courses — supported by additional courses emphasizing applied sciences, process controls, mechanical maintenance, communications, professionalism, and safety — skills universally in-demand by a wide array of employers, such as: established and advanced biorefineries, water/wastewater treatment plants, composters, material recovery facilities, waste-to-energy facilities, landfills, dairy digesters, pulp & paper mills, potato starch plants, cheese/yogurt processors, forest product processors, power plants, oilseed processors, and hybrid poplar energy farms. Attached, please find the Plant Operations course sequence and more background information slides on our established and planned industry partners. Also, here are our key webpage links:
WWCC Facebook Page:
The generous support for our program’s sequence and course development, equipment budget, and student scholarships emanates from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. They have several Coordinated Agriculture Programs (CAP) nationwide – each striving to establish regional public-private collaborations from which to commercialize domestic biofuel and biochemical production (often located in rural areas) sourced from regionally appropriate and significant biomass feedstocks, such as hybrid poplar in the Northwest. The larger research and development CAP we are component to is named “Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest” (AHB — http://hardwoodbiofuels.org/) and is led by the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and their Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory, along with industry partners GreenWood Resources and ZeaChem.
The role of the Agriculture Center of Excellence and Walla Walla Community College, for whom I work, is to develop, implement, and evaluate the workforce development component of AHB – through the applied associate degree program in Plant Operations, established in fall 2013. We currently have 20+ students in the program. Furthermore, two first year students recently completed their required summer cooperative work experience in the wastewater industry – while another student focused on processing biofuels and bioproducts with Pacific Ethanol
See the video below for perspectives from students and industry partners:
Of note, we are in the process of negotiating collaborative agreements, to serve more students with the Plant Operations program, through Linn Benton Community College in western Oregon and Bellingham Technical College in northwest Washington. In addition to the applied associate degree pathway in Plant Operations, we are working to articulate transfer degree pathways with the University of Washington, Oregon State University, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho — so interested students can pursue their bachelor’s degree and advanced studies.
Sound like something you might be interested in?
Here’s a link to the program schedule of classes!
AAAS- Plant Operations_09 26 2014_WWCC
As well as a link to an amazing list of potential employers that may be interested in hiring you after you’ve completed this amazing course!
Prospective employers_Plant Operations