Researchers at the National University of Colombia (UN) have designed and patented a faster and less costly process for producing biodiesel. The process uses a tube reactor that allows the oil from crops, such as palm, soybean, or jatropha and alcohol, such as methanol, to flow in opposite directions and react without mixing. Differences in density cause the biodiesel-containing oil phase to rise while the alcohol phase containing glycerol descends. The “countercurrent operation” requires fewer steps and less equipment than other production processes. To date, the system has been recognized with four patents, including one in the U.S.