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Jon Van Gerpen, Ph.D.

Jon Van Gerpen, Ph.D.



419 Engineering and Physics Building

Mailing Address

Biological Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0904
Moscow, ID 83844-0904

  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin Madison, 1984
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1980
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1978
  • B.A. Philosophy, Iowa State University, 1978

Jon Van Gerpen is professor and former department chair of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Idaho. Before that, he was a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University for 20 years.

He received his bachelor's (1978) and master's (1980) degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State and his doctorate (1984) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During a 14-month sabbatical, he worked on the design team at John Deere that developed a 12.5 liter engine.

Van Gerpen has been researching the production and utilization of biodiesel for the past 17 years and his current projects include the design and construction of a biodiesel pilot plant and the development of a nation-wide biodiesel education program. He has published numerous technical papers on biodiesel production from low-cost and novel feedstocks.

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel for diesel engines that is produced by transesterifying vegetable oils and animals fats with methanol or ethanol to make monoesters. Van Gerpen has been investigating the production and utilization of biodiesel since 1992. His work includes projects to explore the effect of biodiesel on engines, property characterization, production quality control and production from novel and low-cost feedstocks. He has been engaged in educational efforts with biodiesel including acting as the project director for a USDA-funded National Biodiesel Education Program that is in its second five-year cycle of funding. In addition to biodiesel, He is interested in other biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, hydrocarbons from lipids, and gasification.

  • Biodiesel
  • Biofuels
  • Ethanol
  • Diesel engines
  • Combustion

  • Caliskan, H., M.E. Tat, A. Hepbasli, and J.H. Van Gerpen, “Exergy Analysis of Engines Fueled with Biodiesel from High Oleic Soybeans Based on Experimental Data,” Accepted for publication in Int. J. Exergy. 2009.
  • Graef, G., B. J. LaVallee, P. Tenopir, M. Tat, B. J. Schweiger, A. J. Kinney, J. Van Gerpen and T. E. Clemente, 2009. A high-oleic-acid and low-palmitic acid soybean: Agronomic performance and evaluation as a feedstock for biodiesel. Plant Biotechnology Journal. 7:411-421
  • Van Gerpen, J.H., A. Gray, and B.H. Shanks, “Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: III. Considerations in Biodiesel Production,” Invited participation to lead development of a CAST Commentary, The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa. Submitted June 2008.
  • He, B.B., J.H. Van Gerpen and J.C. Thompson, 2009. “Sulfur Content in Selected Oils and Fats and their Corresponding Methyl Esters,” Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 25(2):223-226.
  • Shrestha, D.S., J. Van Gerpen, and J. Thompson. 2008. “Effectiveness of Cold Flow Additives on Various Biodiesels, Diesel, and Their Blends,” Transactions of the ASABE, 51(4):1365-1370.
  • Pradhan, A., D. Shrestha, J. Van Gerpen, and J. Duffield. 2008. “The Energy Balance of Soybean Oil Biodiesel Production: A Review of Past Studies,” Transactions of the ASABE, 51(1):185-194.

  • ASABE Superior Paper award for “Fuel Property Effects on Injection Timing, Ignition Timing, and Oxides of Nitrogen Emissions for Biodiesel-fueled Engines”, by Tat, M. E., J. Van Gerpen, and P.S. Wang, ASABE Transactions, V. 50, No. 4, pp. 1123-1128, 2007.
  • ASABE Superior Paper award for “Spray, Ignition, and Combustion Modeling of Biodiesel Fuels for Investigating NOx Emissions,” by Yuan, W., A.C. Hansen, M.E. Tat, J.H. Van Gerpen, and Z. Tan, ASAE Transactions V. 48, No. 3, pp. 933-939, 2005. This honor is awarded to 9 papers of approximately 427 published each year in ASABE journals.
  • Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers for contributions to the SAE Diesel Engine Technology Academy 1999-2006.

Contact Us

Engineering/Physics Building

Mailing Address:

Biological Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0904
Moscow, ID 83844-0904

Phone: 208-885-6182

Fax: 208-885-7908


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Biological Engineering