Contact Information

  • Michelle Douskey, Ph.D.
  • Lecturer in Chemistry
  • College of Chemistry
  • 307 Latimer Hall
  • UC Berkeley, CA 94720-1460
(510) 643 - 9475

Biodiesel Heat of Combustion and Energy Efficiency

Laboratory Procedures (PDF)

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This experiment has students analyze the efficiency and heat of combustion of biodiesel they created themselves. It gives students a hands on approach to the alternative fuel push and allows them to evaluate their own biodiesel against other standards.

It is a more fun way for students to learn about bond dissociation energies and Delta H of formation values than by burning random solutions alone. Using a simple coffee cup calorimetry method, biodiesel they produced themselves can be evaluated against ethanol. Students learn about heat capacities and calorimetry in the process.

This is part 3 of a 3-experiment series designed to teach students about biodiesel synthesis, toxicity, and efficiency.

Summary prepared March 2012 by Swetha Akella at the UC Berkeley.


Douskey, M. Biodiesel Heat of Combustion and Energy Efficiency, College of Chemistry, UC Berkeley, 2012

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Biofuels
  • Boiling Points (Physical Properties of Matter)
  • Heating and Cooling Methods (Measurement/Analysis)
Laboratory Techniques
  • Assembly of Reaction Apparatus
  • Calorimetry/Thermochemistry
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Analyze in Real-Time to Prevent Pollution
  • Design Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
  • Design Safer Chemicals and Products
  • Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Use Renewable Feedstocks
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Original Contributions - unpublished