MU biofuel researcher wins Innovation Award

Feb 11, 2013

The National Biodiesel Board honored MU Professor Leon Schumacher for his research on using plant materials as replacement for conventional fuel. Schumacher received the Innovation Award at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. The biofuel industry recognized his works on alternative energy such as the use of soybeans and coffee grounds as fuel sources and the blending of biofuel in conventional fuel. The board said Schumacher is a pioneer, and he deserves such recognition.

“He was really one of the first researchers in the country,” Board Spokesman Kaleb Little said. “He has led a team of research from the very beginning.”

Schumacher began researching on biofuel in the early '90s. He says his initial focus was on energy conservation, and the idea of using vegetable oil as an energy source launched his research on biofuel. Schumacher said he believes the biorenewable fuel has several advantages over the conventional fuel — for example, it's cheaper and produces less pollution. He added that the alternative fuel technology may even reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil in the future.

“We weren’t putting ourselves in a position where we were depending on international oil reserves,” Schumacher said. “We were going back home, back to agriculture across the State of Missouri, for that matter, the nation.”

Although he said he sees biofuel as a sustainable replacement for diesel fuel, Schumacher said replacing all conventional fuels with biofuels is still a huge challenge. But he expects the replacement of diesel fuels with biofuels to reach up to 5 percent this year.

“I think they are going to hit that goal this year,” Schumacher said. “That’s how far along they are.”