Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ)
Chemical Engineering – Undergrad

William Gray’s journey with biodiesel began in the summer of 2017, when he joined the lab of Dr. Iman Noshadi at Rowan University in New Jersey. His research project involved developing a feasible lipid extraction process for microalgae. Through this experience, he learned that the lipids found in algae can be used for the production of biodiesel.

“I also learned about the many struggles holding back algae as a biodiesel feedstock,” Gray said. “We found that many issues arise due to the high cost of extracting out the lipids. Our lab’s work aimed to lower this cost, and hopefully will help bring algae back to the forefront as a practical energy source.”

Gray began to appreciate biodiesel’s potential as a realistic, environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based diesel. He first presented the findings at the 2017 National AIChE Student Conference, taking second place in a poster competition.

Professor Noshadi, himself a Next Generation Scientist for Biodiesel alumni and past NGSB scholar who attended the 2015 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, encouraged Gray to apply for a scholarship and opportunity to present at the 2018 conference. Gray and fellow student Alexandra DeVito made the trip to Fort Worth, Texas.

“It was such a great experience,” William said. “I came to the conference with knowledge of the chemistry behind many of the processes, but little to no information about the actual industry. I learned an extensive amount about other feedstocks, quality assurance, and policy. These topics made me even more interested in the exciting world of biodiesel.”

Gray also appreciated connecting with other students doing research on similar topics.

“I met amazing people, and learned even more about research going on around the world. Having the chance to present my research at the poster session, as well as on a breakout session panel, was an honor.”

His other experience includes an internship in the Chemical and Materials Engineering department at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston. He also served as an Engineering and Site Services Intern at Siegfried USA in Pennsville, New Jersey. He helped develop a water recovery system for the plant’s Reverse Osmosis unit, saving 1.7 million gallons of water and $68,000 annually.

After earning his undergraduate degree, he is considering applying to graduate school to continue his education.