Final Report: From Field to Fuel Tank: Exploring the Implementation of Biodiesel as a Sustainable Alternative to Petroleum Diesel in Oregon's Willamette Valley

EPA Grant Number: SU831814
Title: From Field to Fuel Tank: Exploring the Implementation of Biodiesel as a Sustainable Alternative to Petroleum Diesel in Oregon's Willamette Valley
Investigators: Hackleman, David
Institution: Oregon State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2004 through May 31, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The purpose of the OSU Biodiesel Initiative project was to identify the technical and social factors critical to the implementation of a sustainable biodiesel production and use cycle, the potential barriers to the acceptance of a biodiesel-based community and the possible means to achieve consensus. The production and use of biodiesel at the university was used as a method to aid this investigation, as a model for a scalable solution to be applied to the region as a whole.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

  • Small-scale production of biodiesel on campus from waste vegetable oil was implemented and partnerships were formed with administrative departments to allow the acquisition and transportation of waste oil and use of biodiesel in university vehicles.
  • An analytical laboratory and protocols were developed for the purpose of testing the quality of biodiesel fuel produced both the university and at other institutions, and made by private community members and organizations
  • The social and economic factors surrounding the development of regional biodiesel production were assessed with the multi-faceted nature of sustainability in mind. The Initiative determined that large-scale oil seed crop production in the Willamette Valley will be problematic due to potential negative interactions with current agricultural production.
  • The OSU Biodiesel Initiative determined that there is widespread community interest in biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum diesel fuel, but at first there was little community organization and action. Over the project period, the idea of local biodiesel production has become more and more popular, due in part to community outreach efforts and networking by the Initiative.


The development of the campus biodiesel processing facility proved more challenging than expected — in unexpected ways. The technical aspects of building the reactor and fume hood, producing fuel and analyzing it, were far easier and less time- consuming than securing building permits and administrative approval. Strong partnerships enabled the Initiative to overcome these major obstacles.

Our understanding of the complexity of bringing the biodiesel industry to the region was enriched through interactions with local farmers. The assumed ideal crop for oil production may not be the best choice for the region when the concerns of all stakeholders are considered and all of the aspects of sustainability are taken into account.

A large number of factors must be considered when developing a fully-integrated sustainable cycle such as the Initiative’s model for biodiesel production. Developing the skills to navigate these factors may be the most valuable outcome of our Phase I project, and the most critical for our continued success in Phase II. The real challenge for implementing biodiesel production in the Willamette Valley will not be the development of necessary technology, but rather in fitting all of the disparate pieces together.

Proposed Phase II Objectives and Strategies:

  • Continue and scale-up sustainable campus biodiesel production as a model for the local and regional community
  • Fulfill more aspects of sustainable production loop by developing economically viable means for the production of saleable glycerin products
  • Perform further anthropological studies, and experimental and field trials to determine the best crop for a regional source of vegetable oil
  • Further develop technology to aid in economic feasibility of local biodiesel production, such as efficient oil seed crusher and efficient, non-catalytic biodiesel process
  • Continue to develop partnerships to establish a sustainable biodiesel market and find investors for commercial biodiesel processing plant
  • Maintain educational emphasis through student-run nature of Initiative and multiple outreach opportunities

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Soil, Chemicals, Organics, Green Chemistry, Life-cycle Analysis, Clean Technologies, Waste Reduction, Environmentally-conscious Manufacturing, Community-based, Cost-benefit, Willingness-to-Pay, Environmental Assets, Sociological, Environmental Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, Social Science, Northwest, Agriculture, Industry, Petroleum,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Geographic Area, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, waste reduction, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, State, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Chemicals Management, Environmental Engineering, waste to fuel conversion, energy conservation, alternative to petroleum diesel fuel, waste minimization, Oregon, renewable fuel production, emission controls, biotechnology, alternative fuel, biodiesel fuel, ethanol, energy efficiency, alternative energy source, environmentally benign alternative, agriculture based oils, green chemistry

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