My project is the process of making biodiesel out of the kitchen grease from the school’s dining hall. The fuel, once finished, would then be used to power the schools fleet of diesel consuming machinery like lawn mowers and utility vehicles. Some benefits of using biodiesel are that it emits gasses that are not as harmful to the environment as those found in ordinary diesel fuel. Biodiesel is a non-petroleum based replacement for conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel is produced from used vegetable oil or animal fat through a process called transesterification. Biodiesel is environmentally friendly because it is produced mainly from recyclable materials and also it does not produce nearly the amount of greenhouse gases that conventional diesel does.
By implementing the biodiesel production program at Berkshire School we could potently offset over 50% of our petroleum diesel consumption. Berkshire School’s diesel carbon output is 13,219.89 kilograms annually. Producing and using 600 gallons of biodiesel a year would decrease our carbon output by 6060 kilograms to only 7159.89 kilograms. Producing biodiesel with the FreedomFueler costs only $1 per gallon. With the price of diesel fuel in 2008 being $2.79 per gallon, we spent over $3651 on diesel fuel. By using campus made biodiesel costs associated with purchasing petroleum diesel, our costs would drop by over $1074 to a total of only $2577 in addition to transportation charges.
In 2005 and 2006 the National Wildlife Federation recognized Berkshire school for its recycling program by winning the Campus Ecology Recognition Award. When the school had received the award, they wanted to expand their program and become more sustainable and conservative. In doing this, we started to expand our horizons and began to research more things that we could do as a campus to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. After visiting the National Wildlife Federation’s website, the idea came to mind to start a small biodiesel production. In September 2008 the first test batch was processed.
After hearing about biodiesel and doing a little bit of research on the topic, it was time to make a batch and test it. In September 2008 the first batch was made using simple lab tools and chemicals. The first batch was strictly for a test and to see if it was possible to produce biodiesel on campus, but most importantly, to see if the machinery could actually function on this form of fuel. After the first batch was made it was now time to start producing larger amounts more efficiently. In October 2008 Berkshire School took their first step towards producing biodiesel for the schools diesel fleet by purchasing a FreedomFueler. A FreedomFueler is a small system used to make biodiesel.
Berkshire School’s role is to provide the raw products, house the operations as well as make use of the final product.
The role that the students play in this project is that they are the ones who will be gathering the raw materials, going through the process of making biodiesel as well as testing the biodiesel. The students will be taking care of everything and working together to produce as much biodiesel as they can for the schools fleet of diesel consuming machinery.
Sustainability is integrated into the production of biodiesel because biodiesel has less pollutants and doest not emit as many harmful gasses as regular diesel does. The production of biodiesel is helping us now with regards to the environment, as well as in the long run. It is a cheaper and a more appropriate way to fuel the schools oil guzzling fleet of machinery.
The community of Berkshire School will be involved in help producing the biodiesel. Other then that, the Sustainability and Resource Management Class will be taking care of the majority of responsibilities regarding the project.