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Projects Updates for Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI)

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  1. Tests Performed for Illinois Biodiesel Initiative's Quality Control

    Associated Project(s): 

    As provided by Allison Narlock, the current quality control lead for Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI), IBI performs a series of standard tests for every batch. The tests, with the ASTM test number, are the following (in no particular order:)

    • Acid Number: D974
    • Water and Sediment: D2709
    • Flash Point: D93 (D6450), we use the closed cup method
    • Oxidative Stability: D2274
    • Visual Inspection: D4176
    • Cold Soak: D7501
    • Cloud Point: D2500

    For each test, results are recorded to provide information as needed.


  2. From Plants to Energy - DI article about IBI

    "An IBRL truck makes a half-mile drive to Ikenberry to pick up barrels of the leftover cooking oil from Ikenberry. Once at the lab, the team goes through pre-processing, processing and purification of the soon-to- be biodiesel.

    Since last summer, IBI has been in the midst of a major rehaul. The former 50-gallon batch processor is being upgraded to a 500-gallon processor. Over the past two semesters, the team has only picked up twice from Ikenberry strictly for testing purposes on the new processor. The project is expected to be completed this fall.

    One of the unique qualities of the RSO is the diversity of the work. IBI includes a production, soap and quality control team with other executive positions as well."

  3. Brewing the Best Bankable Biodiesel Agreement

    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 environmentally sustainable manner. Currently, Garage and Car Pool, IBI’s largest customer, requires that biodiesel meets the ASTM D6751 standard. This requires frequent quality control testing that would be cost prohibitive for a project of this scale to send to on off-site firm. The equipment funded by SSC through this award will allow students, under faculty guidance, to conduct their own quality control testing at a more economical cost. In addition to the hands-on experience students will gain, this also gives IBI all the tools to be fully financially self-supporting. This proposal directly funds: 1) Equipment for conducting tests 2) Initial reagents and other supplies for the first round of testing.

  4. IBI update

    Associated Project(s): 

    ILLINOIS BIODIESEL INITIATIVE: This past semester, students produced 100 gallons of biodiesel fuel and 2 gallons of soap from waste vegetable oil. The soap-making subgroup is refining its soap recipe for use at campus dining halls, and the diesel subgroup is improving the production process to make higher-quality fuels.

  5. IBI Funding Agreement

    The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI) is a registered student organization whose primary mission is to produce biodiesel and soap from waste vegetable oil (WVO) collected from campus dining halls. The Student Sustainability Committee initially voted to fund the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative during its 2012-13 funding cycle; however, due IBI being forced out of their old site at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, SSC funding was put on hold. While they wait for their permanent site in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, IBI is currently running scaled-down production in a space in Roger Adams Laboratory.

    This project helps IBI to rebuild production up to previous levels at the ISTC, where they were self-funding. An infusion of funding over the next year is critical to allow the IBI to grow and develop into a self-funding organization.

    Agreements are already in place with Campus Fleet and Campus Dining for the sale of biodiesel and soap, respectively.

  6. IBI student leaders meet with iSEE representatives

    Associated Project(s): 

    Adam Dornford, Rahul Gogia, and Tarsis Sousa met with Professor Ben McCall, Professor Madhu Khanna, and Morgan Johnston at iSEE.  The discussion revolved around the faculty advisor needs for the group.  Madhu Khanna will be the faculty advisor of record, and Ben McCall will continue to participate with the program.  There may be a graduate student in analytical chemistry who could assist with the chemical aspects of the program.

    Issues reviewed at this meeting included:

    • numbers of students anticipated to participate once IBI is running again - at the height of the IBI program in the past, there were nearly 100 students involved - need to recruit some new students - partnering with I-energy - would be good to have hands-on work for getting students interested
    • equipment selection for the new program - they will start with using the existing 50 gallon plug-n-play items BioPro 190 have two of them in the basement of ABL
    • soap program - for Dining Services pre-wash of dishes
    • consider tracking utility costs for the overall program - with a Life-cycle Cost Accounting (LCA), and associated GHG emission reductions
    • potential bench space options AESB, RAL?
    • what information does IBRL need in order to fully support IBI being included in their facility? feasibility analysis.  

    Emails from each group - Dining, Car Pool, Energy Farm, SSC - to document what you will do...  prepare a mini proposal (with short term and long term plans) and send to this group - include:

    • organizational structure - who is doing what, including faculty advisors and all students, management plan - how many students are going to be in and out of the facility
    • phases for process - over a 3 year plan, to show continuity
    • business plan for operations - how will you do it
    • financial program - costs to operate and anticipated revenue
  7. IBI key student leaders gearing up for the fall

    Associated Project(s): 

    IBI representatives, Adam Dornford and Rahul Gogia, are meeting with campus stakeholders to get ready for the fall semester.  Discussion topics include:

    • temporary storage space (move from ISTC)
    • long term lab space
    • funding for new equipment (some funding is allocated already by the SSC)
    • faculty advisor options
    • end users on campus for the biodiesel that will be produced
    • supply of waste food oil from Housing
    • benefits to students, and ways to reach out to get new student members across disciplinary lines
    • business case to IBRL for a continuous operation at their new facility
  8. Status of F&S truck availability

    Associated Project(s): 

    F&S Garage and Car Pool had provided IBI with a truck that could be used for moving waste vegetable oil as well as biodiesel.

    Unfortunately the truck that was used has been transferred to another department. At this time I am not aware of any other suitable truck becoming available. The University's fiscal situation is such that it is highly unlikely that another truck will be available in the near term.

    Collection and transportation of the biodiesel requires tanks and pumps. The size can vary depending on scale, but the equipment is needed regardless for efficiency. 

  9. Meeting with iSEE, IBI, and F&S

    Associated Project(s): 

    Ben McCall, Adam Dornford, and Craig Grant met today to discuss the IBI needs.  Ben wrote this summary, after the meeting:

    1. It would be really nice if we could get IBI back into the ISTC space, at least in the short term.  I will engage them in discussions.
    2. As a "lean" short-to-medium-term option, we could divide the project into three pieces: first, a covered, caged area with secondary containment for the storage of 55-gallon drums of methanol; second, a double-wall above-ground storage tank for the biodiesel; and third, some sort of trailer/truck that would contain the reactor and ancillary equipment.  Each of these would need to be 30 feet away from each other for fire code compliance.  The code requirements for the "trailer" are TBD, but the smaller the quantities of methanol and biodiesel in there at any given time, the easier the compliance would be.  If the trailer is within 1000 feet of a bathroom that can be accessed by people in the trailer, it would not need to have its own bathroom.  We discussed the possibility of trying to go water-less and electrically self-contained.
    3. In the medium-to-long term, it might be preferable to build a dedicated building along the lines of the Variety Crop Trials building, although smaller.  The cost might be a couple hundred thousand or so.

    I think the students will probably investigate the options in more detail now, and we may come back to you with some more detailed questions as we converge on things.


  10. discussion about trailer needs

    Associated Project(s): 

    Craig Grant had an initial meeting with Kevin He from the student biodiesel group yesterday to hear his initial thoughts about building a biodiesel processing facility in a trailer. They have been unable to find another suitable facility for their program since they had to leave the ISTC facility on Hazelwood. They were looking at purchasing a mobile pre-manufactured set-up, but the company has since dropped the trailer systems. They want to construct their own system in a trailer using newer processing technologies, but many of the previous raised issues remain problems for them.

    Attached is a copy of their written “Initial Plan” for this endeavor. After listening to the presentation of the plan, Craig identified a number of significant issues that would need to be addressed to even consider the “trailer option” further. Obvious concerns included the approval of possible sites to park the trailer and operate the plant (including off-loading of WVO and storage of processed Biodiesel as well as glycerin processing for liquid soap). The need to take into consideration the approvals needed to be able to available electrical power supplies and connection methods, environmental precautions, etc. will also be significant criteria to be resolved.

    Attached Files: 
  11. Request for status update from fleet manager

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: "Varney, Peter W" 

    Date: October 4, 2013 at 7:49:39 AM CDT

    To: "Lietz, Amanda M" 

    Subject: Biodiesel project - truck


    I was wondering if you could provide an update to the biodiesel project. We haven’t received a delivery in about a year although there has been some intermittent discussion since the last delivery.


    My specific interest revolves around the truck that was used for the deliveries and collections. This vehicle has been sitting idle for a year and if it is no longer needed, I would like to transfer it to another department that would find the truck to be useful. We would remove your equipment and put it into storage for a short time.


    Please let me know.


    Pete Varney, CAFM

    Associate Director for Facilities & Services

    Director of Transportation & Automotive Services 


  12. request for more details about trailer

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Johnston, Morgan B
    Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 4:19 PM
    To: Dornford, Adam Rey; Lietz, Amanda M; Ali, Zeynep; Branham, Bruce E
    Cc: Grant, Craig P; Halverson, Robert
    Subject: IBI trailer

    Hello IBI representatives,

    In order for F&S specialists to adequately review the IBI biodiesel trailer installation requirements, we will need additional details from the manufacturer.  Craig Grant is the Associate Director of Campus Code Compliance and Fire Safety, and he told me that the website for Verde Biofuel does not specify the codes that company used when creating their trailer systems. 

    Please confirm the specific trailer you intend to purchase, and seek the detailed specifications for the equipment used in that trailer.  We need to know, for example, if they followed the National Electric Code (NEC) requirements. 

    You are welcome to call me at 217-344-0044 if you would like to talk about this.



  13. F&S email about approval for a trailer

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello folks,

    As some of you know, the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI) is very interested in getting a self-contained trailer to do their reactions in.  There is a company called Verde Biofuel that makes these trailers, and the IBI is in discussions with them. 

    • Examples of the trailers can be seen here:
    • They would like to purchase a 250 gallon system, but have it installed in a 7X14 foot trailer.  
    • It would be best with 240 volt electrical service, but they told me that they could make do with 120 volt service if necessary.
    • They would like to park this indefinitely in a single location on campus.  If permissible, the area near parking lot B21 (behind Loomis) or B1 (behind Ceramics) would be convenient to them. 
    • They also need access to water, essentially a faucet to wash tanks, etc.  They would use the water to clean the equipment only, and propose taking it in a tote to dispose the waste water correctly.

    We are looking for feedback about what needs to be done in order for this trailer system to be approved by campus.  Are there certain location restrictions they will need to abide? Do they need to incorporate anything in addition to what is listed above? For example, they will need to store glycerin, soap, and waste oil somewhere.  Should they be looking at a permanent tank or two?

    Please let me know your thoughts and if you would like to discuss this in person.



  14. IBI considers trailer from

    Associated Project(s): 

    The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative is considering a bioreactor in a trailer as a solution to their location quandry.  They are looking into the power connection needs and potential siting locations for a 6x10 or 7x14 foot trailer.  The vendor they have spoken with is Verde Biofuel, and they are looking for the ability to process 100 gallons per day with 240 volt 30 amp service.  If needed, they could build the system to work with 120 volt service, but it is not preferred.

    Facilities staff (Robert Halverson, Morgan Johnston, and Paul Foote) met to discuss the engineering requirements and potential site locations.  Morgan requested additional information from IBI about water supply and waste water needs.

  15. Don't ditch Diesel Yet

    When most people think about clean energy, many just think wind and solar. However, the truth is that with the rapid increase in technology and innovation within the last few decades, the possibilities for renewable energy have increased exponentially. Biodiesel, for instance, is one that many people are not familiar with but should be because it is leading the way in clean fuel production. Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be made from a diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, and animal fats.

    In addition to the club, the team working on this project found that an education component would be very beneficial to spreading their overarching goals of sustainability across the campus. Because of that, they created a class that students from all disciplines can take and piloted it this semester. The objective of the class competent is to educate students on the project and hopefully increase student and campus involvement in sustainability. I had the opportunity to check out the class earlier this week. I got to see the entire progress that the oil goes through first hand, and it was incredible. The SSC plans to follow up again after they are moved into their permanent location so stay tuned for further progress and innovation updates.UIUC is participating in the development and expansion of biodiesel in many ways. On campus, there is a registered student organization dedicated to it called The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI). Their primary mission is to produce biodiesel and soap from waste vegetable oil (WVO) collected from campus dining halls in an effort to reduce emissions and promote sustainability on campus. The Student Sustainability Committee initially voted to fund the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative during its 2012-13 funding cycle; however, due IBI being forced out of their old site at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, SSC funding was put on hold. While they wait for their permanent site in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, IBI is currently running scaled-down production in a space in Roger Adams Laboratory.

    In the meantime, aside from the class, there are several other opportunities to get involved with the initiative and in the club. Students can join any of the four subgroups which include production/testing, Soap (production or research), Finance, and Special Projects. They are always looking for new members from all grade levels.

  16. IBI team considering trailer for equipment location

    Associated Project(s): 

    Amanda Lietz met with Stephanie Lage and Morgan Johnston to discuss the next steps for the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI).  They are looking into the possibility of purchasing an all-inclusive bioreactor trailer which would handle the entire reaction needed to change the waste vegetable oil into biodiesel and soap.  The IBI students are going to identify the exact trailer specifications they are looking for and work with F&S to identify an appropriate location for the trailer.