The Autumn Season may be taking the green from our trees, but not form our campus. The University has begun an initiative to convert it's used cooling oil into fuel as part of its green initiative.
The University has been recycling its cooking oil for a number of years. But it wasn't until this past fall that Northwestern solidified a partnership with Loyola University that this sustainability project really got rolling.
Buses and cooking oil. The two have seemingly nothing in common, until last year when Northwestern teamed up with Loyola University to start converting oil form their dining halls into a fuel called Biodiesel. Because loyola is the only college licenses to produce and sell biofuel, Northwesten jumped at the chance to work with them.
" Int eh past we were sending our oil out, and it went to a renderer. WE had no idea where it went or what it went into. Now we've got it staying in the community and is being re-purposed into fuel for the bus system," Steven Mangan said.
It works in about three steps... First the cooking oil used in teh dining halls at both universities gets picked up and filtered by a company called Chicago Biofuels.
"They're unique in the waste hauling kind of category because they guarantee that every gallon of oil they pick up will get turned into biodiesel, either at Loyola or at another industrial biodiesel facility.
Next it's taken to a lab at Loyola's Rogers Park campus where lab manager Zach Waickman an his team of graduate students process the oil into biodiesel.
"So all you need to do is split this oil molecule in half. Oil molecules made out of hydrocarbon chains attached to a glycerin molecule. Simply want to isolate the hydrocarbon chains to burn in our engines and remove the glycerin molecule that doesn't burn well," Waickman said,
Finally, the biodiesel is added to the traditional petrolium diesel in the shuttles in a 20-80 ratio. A ratio Zach would like to see in all of the shuttles.