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Support the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (Ongoing)


Founded in the spring semester of 2006, Illinois Biodiesel Initiative first and foremost serves to produce and provide biodiesel to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s Garage and Carpool services using waste vegetable oil from the University dining halls. Currently we operate out of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, which we lovingly call ISTC.

Illinois Biodiesel Initiative and others like it exist to educate others on the benefits of biodiesel usage and production as well as to provide an economically feasible source of the fuel. While in its current form it may not be the fuel of the future, we feel that biodiesel is a renewable source of energy that is here now, it is not simply in development; and therefore, we must take advantage of its properties. Biodiesel blends or pure biodiesel both run cleaner than straight diesel. Emissions are vastly reduced when running simply B20, or 20% biodiesel to 80% diesel, blends. What’s more, most diesel engines can handle about B5 to B10 without any modifications, although modification kits do exist on the market. Many engines can handle B20 as well. The single largest deterrent when using biodiesel is running an engine at near or below freezing, as the fuel does congeal at lower temperatures and can clog an engine.   We have come a long way from our foundations in 2006. We have made progress on developing liquid “biodiesel glycerin” soap from the byproducts of the biodiesel chemical reaction (don’t worry, the soap is perfectly safe and an excellent grease cutter, and does not contain any biodiesel). As of right now, we are testing the viability of its use in the University dining hall system as a pre-wash solution. Our hope is that our soap can be used very soon for their needs as a cheaper, renewable, sustainable alternative. For more information visit biodiesel.illinois/edu.


Formerly known as UIUC Biodiesel Initiative, Illinois Biodiesel Initiative started in 2006 as a local effort by Engineers Without Borders. Funded first by the Kozad Grant for startup business ventures and later by the Student Sustainability Committee, IBI had meager beginnings in a small space provided by facilities and services. It was then that we built our 80 gallon “Appleseed” reactor and piloted production in 2007 and 2008. At the same time, however, the Illinois Sustainability and Technology Center in Research Park had recently become affiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and we saw an opportunity for a business relationship, a work space, and more. With the ISTC’s generous donation of an unused 400 gallon reactor vessel and our purchase of a mezzanine walkway, production began in 2009. Currently we collaborate with ISTC to produce our biodiesel, and also with the University’s garage and carpool service to provide them with an environmentally friendly biodiesel/diesel blend. Garage and carpool operates their diesel vehicles with a B5 to B7 blend. We are also in the process of improving our soap process for large scale production, which should allow us to provide liquid soap to the University dining system as well as, potentially, the residential system. Both of these soap projects are currently pilot projects.

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Project Team

  • Project Leader:

    Amanda Lietz

    Team Members: