KSU Biodiesel Project

My name is Ron Madl and I am a Research Professor Emeritus at Kansas State University. I am in the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State and last year we were funded by the Kansas Soybean Commission to help us start a recycling program with waste oil, basically used soybean cooking oil and convert it in to bio-diesel. With the support from the Kansas Soybean Commission we were able to recruit other funds, specifically the Provost gave us $10,000 from Academic Excellence; that helped us purchase the equipment and we had another NSF grant that was relevant that helped us recruit engineers to design the facility and we had a couple of interns and graduate students that provided the manpower to put it together. After we received funding in July, we then ordered the equipment and began to refurbish a greenhouse that had been used for storage of equipment over in the recycling center. And as a consequence we then put everything together and began producing our bio-diesel a couple of weeks ago now, in November.Now we are starting to get into a more consistent production scheme, I believe. We are using the bio-diesel internally at Kansas State so the overall program is to source the waste oil, clean it up and convert it into bio-diesel and then use it within campus. But, bigger picture what we want to do is inform students of the opportunity that renewable fuels offer and get more of the University involved in sustainable systems such as this. And we are using it in engineering, using the bio-diesel as an example of a unit operations, so it is now being integrated into the engineering program and we’re trying then to expand beyond, to get more involvement from chemical engineering, perhaps improve the efficiency of our process by recapturing unused methanol, find use for the glycerin by-product is another project which I think we’ll be able to start this next year. With the help of the Soybean Commission and other funding sources we have been able to get a good start and we’re hoping next year to do more promotion of the concept of bio-diesel so that we can just educate everybody, students, faculty and the general public. as to the benefits of this renewable fuel. I’m Ben Champion, I’m the Director of Sustainability for Kansas State University. And in that role, I basically provide coordination throughout the University when we are trying to create new initiatives as well as trying to connect the academics of the University to the operational aspects of the University and to the ways that we engage students, faculty
and staff in educating about sustainability issues, and also getting
participation. So this project has been a perfect example of trying to do that and because it’s basically involved having to work with our Housing and Dining Departments and our Student Union in terms of the supply of used cooking oil. So we have had to coordinate with them on the logistics of picking it up and working with their service providers for the disposal… that they have been working with for disposal. It also involves working with our Operational Facilities staff in terms of the recycling center which is the site where the process is being run. And it also involves >working with academic units, the Chemistry Department, the Chemical Engineering Department and also integrating in to a variety of research experience for undergraduates program that the National Science Foundation funds every year. So, this is really a collaborative enterprise among administration, students, faculty and staff in multiple different divisions of the University. And it takes a lot of coordination in order to make this happen. So, the Soybean Commission support has really allowed us to spend money on the material needs for running the process itself and then has allowed us to leverage funding from other parts of the University and other external funding to make… to financially support all of that. But we’ve really been building our human capital in terms of our collaboration capacity. That’s really what this funding provides is an impetus for doing that kind of work, of building our capacities in collaboration across the University. So, we are optimistic in the coming year that we will be able to build deeper levels of commitment from our academic partners and that we’ll be able to do further experiments on the values of different fuel sources. Maybe comparing soybean oil to other types of oils, and showing the different fuel qualities that come out of that, as well as looking at the material by-products from the process itself and how we can use those more efficiently. And ultimately the fuel is saving the University money in its operational expenses because it is offsetting the purchase of petroleum diesel. And it’s being used by recycling trucks and trash trucks for campus. So, it should save us upwards of about 20 percent of our total fuel costs for the University over time. And we’ll hopefully capture some of those savings to use to be a sustainable funding model for the program even after the Soybean Commission’s support is over. So this project is a really good example of the kind of thing that we are trying to stimulate within the University. We have a Green Action Fund for the first time this year that provides small grant funding on the order of what the Soybean Commission is supplying, so in effect this project is really a perfect example that I am using actually to advocate for other funding sources within the University to do similar kinds of other initiatives on campus. So the Soybean Commission support is actually providing a little bit of leadership within the institution as well to create these kinds of priorities in the future.

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