Havre High goes to Northern for biodiesel training
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Havre High School students had the opportunity to use topend equipment to learn about the future of fuels as they made biodiesel in the Applied Technology Cent e r at Montana Stat e University-Northern. "It gives the kids a better chance to do it right," said Merle Hoerner, the automotive instructor at Havre High. Hoerner has had the students in his advanced automotive class make biodiesel for several years, and he decided to step it up a notch and partner with the university. Northern's BioEnergy Center has state-of-the-art equipment to manufacture and test the alternative fuel. Hoerner took 12 Havre High students to Northern to make the biodiesel. Biochemist Jon Soriano, Ph.D, who heads the biodiesel research at Northern, said the equipment is on the level that normally only would be seen in graduate level work or top-end research. He said the work with the Havre High students went well. "The students are very interested. They had lots of questions and were very attentive," he said. Soriano went to Havre High Tuesday to give a pre-laboratory discussion. The high school students were at Northern Wednesday and Thursday to make and wash the biodiesel. They will return next Wednesday to test the quality of the fuel, using Northern's equipment to rate the biodiesel to ASTM stanDards. Hoerner said the work has gone well when done at the high school, but using Northern's equipment takes it to another level. "Everything is pretty crude down here," he said. "It is much better up there." He said the students seemed excited to do the work at Northern's lab, and the people at Northern seemed excited too. Hoerner said the process lets the students learn about the chemical reactions that form the biodiesel, and lets them learn about industry techniques in its production. "By doing it the way I did t h i s y e a r, they learn the proces s on t h e sma l l scale and the large scale and, will get to test and certify (the biodiesel), " he said. G e t t i n g s t u d e n t s involved in the process — a n d i n No r t h e r n ' s work in that f i e l d — i s imp o r t a n t , Hoerner said. "It's kind of the wave of the future," he said.