Biofuels Engineer

More than 75% of South Africa’s primary energy needs are provided through coal generated power, with significant contributions to carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses. As the threat and pressures of climate change increases, innovation is needed to explore renewable sources of energy. Biofuels engineering investigates the uses and implementation of fuels derived from plant sources such as sugar and starch crops to provide cleaner, renewable energy.

Biofuels engineers research, design and develop products, tools, procedures and processes that generate biofuels for electricity and powering vehicles and machinery. They consider all the complex factors that go into the production of alternatives to fossil fuels and work to redirect established scientific principles for producing energy into innovative technological solutions.

Biofuels engineers primarily work in offices and sometimes research laboratories and may spend time in environments such as manufacturing plants and crop farms.

Skills

Biofuels engineers must have strong mathematical competence, a comprehensive knowledge of scientific principles and its application and competent in the use of engineering and design software. They will additionally benefit from:

  • Extensive analytical and logical reasoning ability
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Sound project management skills

Tasks

Evaluate the benefits and challenges of alternative energies and experiment with new products and technologies

Analyse existing biofuels systems providing solutions to optimise production or develop new systems

Research the economic and environmental factors in the production of biofuels

Oversee prototype processes and supervise subsequent projects

Studies

B.Sc.Eng. in Bio-resources Engineering at UKZN

B.Sc.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at UCT and Wits

B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at NWU, SU, UKZN and UP

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Chemical Engineering at CPUT, DUT, MUT, TUT, UNISA and VUT

Employers

National, provincial and local government.

Biofuels, renewable and private energy companies.

Research institutions.

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