Southeastern Massachusetts Student Network for Biodiesel Research and Education

EPA Grant Number: SU835696
Title: Southeastern Massachusetts Student Network for Biodiesel Research and Education
Investigators: Brush, Edward J
Institution: Bridgewater State College
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2014 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $14,068
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Awards , Sustainability

Objective:

The small scale production of biodiesel fuel from waste vegetable oil (WVO) has been a popular activity for sustainability education in colleges and high schools. However, the full educational impact has not been realized due to inherent safety issues and inefficiency of the overall process. An interdisciplinary group of Bridgewater State University (BSU) students will apply sustainability and green chemistry principles to critically examine the efficiency of biodiesel production from WVO, identify limitations, and propose potential solutions. An innovative research and education plan will be developed through a Biodiesel Research and Education Network with students from BSU, community colleges and high schools.

Approach:

The project team will design and construct a bench top chemical processor for converting WVO into biodiesel. The processor must be flexible in design and adaptable to testing a variety of experimental approaches. To expand the breadth of research engagement and potential for innovation, we will develop a Biodiesel Research and Education Network with community college and high school students. Students in the Network will submit research proposals to use the biodiesel processor, thereby introducing a research-based learning component into the curriculum focused on applying sustainability and green chemistry principles.

Expected Results:

The technical challenge facing the project team is the design, construction and testing of a bench top processor to support student research on improving the efficiency of WVO conversion into biodiesel. The optimum system design will be cost effective, constructed from readily available materials, have integrated safety features, and adaptable to testing a variety of experimental parameters. The project team will apply sustainability and green chemistry principles to identify priority problems leading to poor efficiency for converting WVO into biodiesel, develop specific research questions to address these problems, and propose solutions that are laboratory testable. Student at regional community colleges and high schools will propose research projects to borrow and utilize the processor at their own institutions.

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental education, alternative energy, renewable energy, waste to energy, bio-based feed stocks, green chemistry, green energy, environmentally benign substitute, water conservation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final