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SUNY-ESF Making Own Biodiesel

17% of ESF fleet runs on biodiesel

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A student at the SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is using waste fryer oil from a nearby student dining hall to make biodiesel fuel that helps run ESF vehicles.

Seventeen percent of ESF’s vehicles now operate on biodiesel, including buses, trucks and even bulldozers. A third of the ESF fleet runs on some form of alternative fuel (e.g. electric, hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, and flex fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gas).

Greg Boyd, a senior at ESF, works with a processor installed in former greenhouse on the ESF campus. He uses waste vegetable oil (fryer oil) from a dining hall at neighboring Syracuse University. The waste oil is strained and then pumped into the bioprocessor. Methanol is added to produce biodiesel. Sodium hydroxide is added as a catalyst for the methanol.

After 24 hours, the glycerol settles to the bottom and is siphoned off. ESF researchers are using the glycerol to make biodegradable plastic. Glycerol is already used in the manufacture of soap and a variety of make-up products.

The biodiesel is washed with water to remove any impurities and it is then ready for use in any modified diesel engine. Boyd says it produces 70 percent less emissions than petroleum diesel.

Boyd, who started making biodiesel when he was in high school, has modified the fuel lines in his 1989 Mercedes Benz so the car runs on biodiesel.