Biodiesel Researchers From Egypt Visit UNH
By Debra JohnyBear, College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
July 11, 2007
Physics laboratory manager Mike Briggs shows how the high-bay Biodiesel
Lab is now equipped with an excellent pilot-scale facility to process biodiesel
from waste vegetable oil. L-R Briggs, Egyptian researchers: Drs. Shadia
Ragheb Tawfik, Ferial Zaher and Hamman El Abd.
During this season of reunions, the reunion is especially sweet when discovering
your acquaintances are excelling in what they do. Consider the bonus of
networking their progress with that of your own. The possibilities are
far-reaching and in this story span from Durham to Cairo, Egypt. From June
25-29, six researchers from the National Research Center (NRC) in Cairo
met with UNH chemical engineering professor Ihab Farag in his biodiesel
lab reuniting their effort to introduce biodiesel technology into Egypt.
NRC is one of the largest and most credible research centers in the Middle
In 2004 Farag, director and founder of the UNH Biodiesel Group, was awarded
a three-year grant from the US-Egypt Science and Technology Program (part
of U.S. Agency for International Development). The grant/project involved
working with NRC on introducing biodiesel, a renewable and environmentally
friendly fuel alternative to petroleum diesel into Egypt.
The project focuses on the technical and economic feasibility of producing
biodiesel from a non-edible plant (jatropha) that can be grown in poor
or damaged soil in Egypt, and the possibility of expanding this into large
scale production. The main benefits of this are:
- Greening the desert, by growing jatropha in desert area
- Utilizing municipal wastewater. Jatropha is being irrigated by municipal
- Production of local home-grown fuel (biodiesel) that can be used locally
- Creating jobs that benefit local and rural economy
Professors Nahed Attia, Hammam El Abd, Guzine ElDiwani, Salwa Ismail Hawash,
and Shadia Ragheb Tawfik are each members of the chemical engineering and
pilot plant unit of NRC, and Ferial Zaher is of the NRC Oil and Fat department.
They have been proactive in working with UNH on introducing the biodiesel
technology into Egypt. With exception of Attia (who is equivalent to an
assistant professor), they all have more than 20 years of experience in
research, student supervision and project execution, and working with local
“This is my second trip to UNH. Two years ago UNH biodiesel research
was still in the lab-scale stage. Today the Biodiesel Lab reflects Dr.
Farag’s biodiesel achievements which are in synch with the increasing
interest in the U.S. and worldwide, “
Egyptian project director ElDiwani said. “Dr. Farag’s high-bay
biodiesel lab is now equipped with an excellent pilot-scale facility to
process biodiesel from waste vegetable oil. Realizing the importance of
biodiesel feedstock Dr. Farag is conducting pioneering research on the
production of biodiesel from algae. One of the highlights of this trip
was touring campus in the biodiesel-powered Wildcat bus. Another was witnessing
democracy in action while at the State House. Both the House and the Senate
were in session.”
Said Tawfik, “It has indeed been a productive and rewarding visit.
We have been acknowledged by the Senate, welcomed by the Honorable Governor
Lynch, and additionally welcomed by both UNH’s outgoing interim president
Bonnie Newman and new president Mark Huddelson. We have met with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency in Boston to learn about environmental
issues, as well as with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
and Air Resources Division. Likewise we visited the International Trade
Resource Center and Pease Development Center in Newington. In all, good
relations have been made in our struggle for alternative energy sources
and a greener world. Relations which we hope, in time, will only become