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Biological & Agricultural Engineering

Engineering/Physics Building
Phone: (208) 885-6182
Fax: (208) 885-7908

Mailing Address:
Biological & Agricultural Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0904
Moscow, ID 83844-0904

Idaho Falls

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
1776 Science Center Dr., Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho  83402
phone: (208) 282-7900
fax: (208) 282-7929



Jon Van Gerpen, Department Chair of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Jon Van Gerpen, Ph.D.

Office: 419 Engineering and Physics Building
Phone: 208-885-7891
Email: jonvg@uidaho.edu
Mailing Address: c/o Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering
P.O. Box 440904
Moscow, Idaho 83844-0904

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Department Head and Professor

Campus Locations: Moscow
With UI Since 2004

  • Research/Focus Areas
    • Biodiesel
    • Biofuels
    • Ethanol
    • Diesel engines
    • Combustion
  • Biography

    Jon Van Gerpen is Professor and Department Head of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Idaho. He has held that position since July 2004. Before that, he was a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University for 20 years.

    He received his B.S. (1978) and M.S. (1980) degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State and his Ph.D. (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.

    Dr. 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. Dr. 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 5-year cycle of funding. In addition to biodiesel, He is interested in other biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, hydrocarbons from lipids, and gasification.

  • Selected Publications

    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.

  • Awards and Honors
    • 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.