The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI) converts waste vegetable oil from campus dining halls into biodiesel (intended for campus vehicles) and biosoap (intended for pre-washing in the dining halls), and aims to do so in a financially and en
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Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI) (In Progress)
The UIUC Biodiesel Initiative (or Illinois Biodiesel Initiative) is a project that evolved from Engineers Without Borders and has collected Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) from dining halls on campus in order to convert it to biodiesel fuel. This fuel has been used by campus vehicles at the Facilities & Services (F&S) Garage and Car Pool since spring of 2006.
The team designed a 400 gallon batch biodiesel processor at the Illinois Sustainable Techology Center (ISTC), which allowed them to process all of the available WVO on campus (around 300 gallons per week). Funding to build this processor came from the Student Sustainability Committee, the Cozad Design Competition, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Engineering Design Council. As of 2012, the organization was asked to relocate from ISTC and has since been working with several campus stakeholders to restart operations.
The organization has been donated two 50 gallon BioPro 190 biodiesel reactors for smaller batch scale production, as well as working to negotiate use of upcoming pilot plant space at the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) in the summer of 2016.
Currently, the project is focused on the following efforts:
- A business pitch to the IBRL to guarantee pilot plant space
- Finding a faculty adviser to ensure project continuity
- Obtaining finances from old RSO funds and grant money allocated by the SSC to buy necessary equipment and materials
- Raw materials acquisition (waste cooking oil and methanol for processing) and end-use agreements for products
- Renewed process design for continuous biodiesel production
- Working with the donated BioPro 190 biodiesel reactors and old soap equipment for student involvement until IBRL
- Working out operations, logistics, and product testing for both biodiesel and the soap byproduct
- Reclaiming old equipment from ISTC, as well as using the Energy Farm as intermediate storage space
- Marketing, brand development, University relations, and student recruitment in the fall and spring
The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative was started as an effort in reusing waste and reducing campus emissions and has been run by students since its founding. Being student-driven, a major part of the the operation has been to educate more student about biodiesel usage and recycling and to get more students involved in the group's efforts. The organization has seeked all kinds of students that have an interest in sustainability on campus and desire hands-on experience. In addition to biodiesel production, IBI has had several officers working with smaller groups of students on more specific sub-projects (such as soap research, production of soap, business modeling, and outreach).