June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Energy Conversion and Conservation
13.1216.1 - 13.1216.8
The Development of an Economic Model for Biodiesel Production in Ghana
In this paper, the results of a project in which an interdisciplinary team of honors students travelled to Ghana in West Africa for the purpose of developing an economic model of biodiesel production from energy crops in this region is described. The students included majors in engineering, business and finance, economics, and global studies. Student teams were divided into three broad categories: a science/engineering team, a business/economics team, and a cultural/infrastructure team. While each student had a primary team responsibility, they were also required to work across team boundaries to ensure integrated and realistic solutions emerged from their efforts. The ASU team initially met with students and faculty from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana, a partner university with ASU in this study. They travelled to Biemso, a small rural village in which a project is underway to produce biodiesel fuel from the oil seed bearing plant known as Jatropha Curcas. In addition, they travelled both to major cities and to other rural villages to study the economic environment of Ghana.
The result of the project is a comprehensive model of the feasibility and the best management practices for the production of biodiesel from crops as a tool for economic development, and has resulted in the production of seven undergraduate honors theses at ASU
The project described in this paper is part of a larger interdisciplinary initiative at ASU known as GlobalResolve, in which entrepreneurial models for economic progress in developing countries are pursued. This leads to unique design constraints on projects that result in very rewarding experiences for the students that are involved.
Biodiesel development is one component a sustainable energy solution, especially in developing countries where biomass is readily available. One source of biodiesel is Jatropha, a shrub that grows wild in many tropical global locations. It is susceptible to frost, but otherwise is very hardy and produces fruit that can be pressed for oil which can be further processed into diesel fuel. This paper describes a student project in the GlobalResolve program at Arizona State University (ASU) to investigate developing a biodiesel economy for African villages by cultivating Jatropha curcas. A team of multi-disciplinary students from the Honors College at ASU traveled to Biemso, Ghana, in which faculty and students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have undertaken a United Nations sponsored project to grow Jatropha Curcas. In addition, the students travelled to other rural villages in Ghana as well as the major cities of Kumasi and Accra to study the economic and business environment, as well as the technical infrastructure, in the area. This paper describes the GlobalResolve program and this biodiesel project that has the goals of providing students global experience in problem solving and plans to help the village develop a plan for a sustainable biofuels venture.
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