Wash. U. Turns French Fry Grease into Biodiesel

frenchfrygrease.jpg
flickr.com/photos/boxerdogorama
Sure this looks kind of gross, but do you think unrefined gasoline really looks any better?
Washington University's dining service, Bon Appétit, continues to prove it has a higher social conscience than you do. First it boycotted tomatoes. Now it is converting its used grease from French fries (and, presumably, other deep-fried things) into environmentally-responsible biodiesel to power campus vehicles.

The project is the brainchild of alum Kristopher Kelley who, upon his graduation in 2008, set up a biodiesel refinery on his uncle's buffalo farm in Louisville, Kentucky. (He came up with this plan, by the way, in a Wash. U. business class. Here's proof that things you learn in college can be applicable to the real world.)

In St. Louis, Kelley collects 150 gallons of vegetable oil per week from Bon Appétit's kitchens and stores it in three campus locations. Then he combines it with diesel fuel, for which the university pays him the market rate of $2.55 per gallon, and returns it to the university's 300-gallon gravity flow tank. One gallon of vegetable oil yields approximately one gallon of biofuel.

In cold weather, the biodiesel mix will be 20 percent vegetable oil and 80 percent diesel, but Kelley hopes to raise the ratio to 50:50 in the summer.

So far, the biodiesel has been used as fuel for one food-service truck, but the university plans to increase that, too.

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