Summer Campers Learning Biodiesel Lesson

John Davis

No macaroni-covered tissue boxes for some summer campers near Poolsville, Maryland this summer. They learned about how to be green using clean-burning biodiesel.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says this is the second year Calleva Inc.’s Building Green adventure camp offered 12-18 year-olds the chance to learn about sustainable building construction and biodiesel production:

One day of the building green week is spent touring the camp’s biodiesel production facilities and learning how it’s made. This unique opportunity is made possible by the efforts of two of the camp’s directors, Matt Markoff and Dave Ritter.

Ritter said it was Markoff’s initial idea to produce biodiesel for use at the camp as part of the organization’s building green initiative. About two years ago, Markoff and Ritter began researching the feasibility of biodiesel production and after “making mayonnaise” for about six months, began producing small quantities of biodiesel.

Campers who tour the production facility are shown the basics involved in biodiesel production and given the opportunity to see what it takes to make the fuel, as well as learn about other alternative fuel options. Because the production process contains various chemicals, campers don’t get too many hands-on activities that day, but “having the grease on their pants adds to the experience,” Ritter said. “They’re going to remember that and the next time they eat French fries for dinner they might think about how the oil that was used to cook their dinner can now be used to make biodiesel.”

The camp gets its feedstock for the biodiesel from the used grease of six local restaurants. In the near future, camp officials hope to produce 600 gallons of biodiesel a week to run the camp’s buses, tractors and other vehicles… making this summer camp project pay off long after the macaroni has fallen off the average tissue box.