Caleb Elwell Successfully Defends Thesis: “Improving the Cold Temperature Properties of Tallow-Based Methyl Ester Mixtures Using Fractionation, Blending and Additives”

CSU Graduate Student, Caleb Elwell, investigated how to make biodiesel from beef tallow.

For his master’s thesis, CSU Graduate Student Caleb Elwell investigated how to make biodiesel from beef tallow, a rendered form of beef. Tallow is readily available here in the Front Range of Colorado due to the prevalence of the ranching industry, but its natural state at room temperature is solid, not liquid.

Caleb looked at three ways in which the cold temperature properties of tallow could be improved so that it could be used as an effective biodiesel. Specifically, Caleb looked at the following methods: 1. fractionation, 2. blending, and 3. polymer additive. He found costs and benefits of each method through empirical testing, but ultimately concluded though modeling and economic analysis that at this time it does not make economic sense to invest in a tallow biodiesel plant.

His research was sponsored by Sun West Biofuels, which wanted to know more about the costs and benefits of potentially installing a beef tallow plant in the Front Range. Caleb’s results helped inform Sun West’s decision not to install a tallow plant.

Please congratulate Caleb on his successful defense, and reach out to him at to learn more details about his research, and interest in working in the field of renewable energy doing R&D.