ACREC Chemical Engineering Professor Retires

By Annel K. Greene, PhD, Professor and Center Director
Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center

Clemson University and the Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC) salute friend and colleague Dr. Charles Gooding, professor of Chemical Engineering and a member of the ACREC team, as he retires. He has served as ACREC associate center director for the past three years and conducted a study to develop a carbon footprint calculator for the rendering industry that is now available via the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation website. Gooding is currently completing the first available life cycle assessment of rendering operations and products and has engaged hundreds of chemical engineering students in projects related to rendering. Through the student projects, he led a study on development of high value products from rendered fats.

The carbon footprint calculator Gooding developed is an Excel spreadsheet. Users are able to input annual data related to carbon dioxide (CO2) avoidance or emissions. Rendered products contain sequestered carbon so they represent CO2 emission avoidance compared to alternatives like composting that releases most of the carbon in animal by-products to the atmosphere. Raw material transportation, use of process fuel and electricity, and worker commuting contribute to CO2 emissions. Wastewater treatment results in CO2 and/or methane emissions. Outputs in the carbon footprint calculator include CO2 emissions attributed to each category and the CO2 reduction ratio that is calculated as the amount of CO2 avoided divided by the amount of CO2 emitted.

Gooding estimates that an average-sized North American rendering plant processing 100,000 tons of by-products, dead stock, and restaurant grease will produce 40,000 tons of marketable fats and proteins. This same plant would emit approximately 20,000 tons of CO2, primarily due to burning fuels to operate the cooker that drives off moisture, destroys pathogens, and separates the fat and protein. For this average rendering plant, another 4,000 tons of CO2 is emitted by utility companies generating electricity for the rendering process. These direct and indirect emissions of CO2 are equivalent to about 30 percent of the CO2 that would be released from the raw materials if all of that carbon had not been rendered but instead were allowed to decompose into CO2 via other disposal options. As industries are becoming increasingly pressured by government and private entities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the rendering industry once again can point out it is the “original recyclers.” Gooding’s carbon footprint calculator proves that rendering is a “green” industry compared to alternative carcass disposal options such as composting, burial, incineration, or deposition in a landfill.

Gooding has worked further to develop life cycle asses-sments comparing rendering to alternative means of disposing of animal by-products and alternative methods of producing proteins and fats. In this work, he has focused initially on fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions not only because these are important issues but because these impact categories have the most data available. A comparison of gate-to-gate life cycles for processing 100,000 tons of animal by-products by rendering versus composting clearly indicates that rendering is the more “green” method of utilizing these materials.

A gifted teacher, Gooding engaged his chemical engineering students in studying rendering issues. In one semester, he assigned students the task of evaluating rendered fat to determine if the industry could make value-added products, which would allow renderers to increase profits. This work revealed that polyol ester biodegradable lubricants are perhaps the optimal product that can be made from rendered fats. These lubricants are worth at least twice the value of rendered fat, and the chemistry required to produce them is relatively simple so fixed capital investment should be low. The demand for biodegradable lubricants from renewable sources continues to grow, and the first step in production of these lubricants can be the same process as production of biodiesel. This could allow a biodiesel plant to increase profitability or hedge against low fuel prices. With the vast global market for lubricants, polyol esters could become a major outlet for rendered fats.

As an invited speaker at the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association Congress in Prague earlier this summer, Gooding outlined his work on the carbon footprint, life cycle analysis, and biodegradable lubricants and highlighted several of the other ACREC research projects underway. He also explained how North American renderers have supported research and education to assist the industry.

Gooding earned his bachelor and master of science degrees from Clemson University before completing his PhD at North Carolina State University. He returned to Clemson University in 1980 as a faculty member where he rose through the ranks to full professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. Active in university activities including president of the Faculty Senate, Gooding also has a wide range of professional experience in assisting industries through consulting arrangements. He has conducted continuing education and training for over 1,200 engineers, chemists, and operators in industry since 1992. His areas of expertise include chemical process design, analysis, and control with emphasis on plant-scale reaction, separation, and energy integration processes. Gooding also works in pollution prevention and control. With over 100 publications, presentations, and reports for industry-related topics, he has developed a reputation as a “go to” man for industry problem solving.

Upon retiring from Clemson University after 33 years of service, Gooding has accepted a temporary position as visiting director of the Engineering Design Clinic at Smith College in Massachusetts and will be relocating there in mid-August. It is a sabbatical replacement appointment for one year that intrigues Gooding, but it also will provide an opportunity for him to spend more time with his grandson in Boston. He also has plans to spend time with family, travel, and have fun in his retirement years and anticipates remaining active with consulting opportunities as they arise. Gooding can be reached at

Clemson University ACREC faculty, staff, and students salute Dr. Charlie Gooding on his retirement and wish him the very best. He is a dear friend and valued colleague who will be missed!

August 2013 RENDER | back