Teaching Biodiesel Production On the Run

John Davis

Students from the University of Colorado are spreading the good news of biodiesel… and going mobile to do it.

This story from the Colorado Daily says the CU Biodiesel program is using donated, used restaurant cooking oil in a production facility that is contained in a trailer:

“I’ve taught everyone from post-graduate students to second-graders how to brew their own biodiesel,” said CU senior Mike West, director of education for CU Biodiesel. “That’s the whole point of the project — to show people how easy it is to brew biodiesel.”

The project West is referring to is a self-contained biodiesel trailer called ESTER, short for “fatty acid methylester,” or scientific name for biodiesel…

According to CU junior Josh Jaffe, director of outreach for CU Biodiesel, both byproducts of the conversion go right back to the benefit of CU causes. The biodiesel is used by the Buff buses to transport students and the glycerine is donated to the CU Recycling Center to be used as a fertilizing agent for composting.

“This is going to be CU’s in-house, or in-parking lot, biodiesel production facility,” Jaffe said of ESTER, which began construction three years ago through a $46,000 grant from the CU Environmental Center.

The trailer is capable of producing 500 gallons of biodiesel a month, but more importantly, can go to schools to teach more people how to brew their own biodiesel.

CU is also holding a contest to come up with a winning design for the trailer. Students with ideas are invited to download a blank form and submit their ideas by November 19th at www.cubiodiesel.org.