Demonstrating the Feasibility of a Biofuel: Production and Use of Biodiesel from Waste Oil Feedstock and Bio-based Methanol at Middlebury College

EPA Grant Number: SU831893
Title: Demonstrating the Feasibility of a Biofuel: Production and Use of Biodiesel from Waste Oil Feedstock and Bio-based Methanol at Middlebury College
Investigators: Seidl, Amy L. , Isham, Jonathan T. , Mayer, Tamar
Current Investigators: Seidl, Amy L. , Acher, Charles , Bourdon, Leland , Hand, Thomas , Isham, Jonathan T. , Jansen, Nick , Mayer, Tamar , Reavey, Brian
Institution: Middlebury College
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $7,560
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Fossil fuel combustion results in the emission of greenhouse gases. Currently, the earth is experiencing unprecedented, human-induced changes in the atmosphere with consequent and threatening changes to its climate. This event is due, in large part, to fossil fuel emissions.


The intent of this study is to demonstrate the feasibility, production, and use of a fuel with significantly fewer emissions: biodiesel. Specifically, we plan to research whether biodiesel can be derived from waste cooking oil and bio-based methanol.


We will investigate the chemical, economic, and geographic feasibility of biodiesel production based on current waste oil–cooking oil collected from our campus and local community. In addition we will test the hypothesis that the key catalyst in biodiesel production, methanol, can be derived from a bacterial source, furthering our goal of a waste-based, bio-based fuel. In addition to this research, we will investigate the effectiveness of biodiesel in campus diesel engines and house furnaces, currently burning #2 fuel oil. Effectiveness will be assessed using air emissions and BTU production. Further, we will examine how economically feasible biodiesel is, given Middlebury College’s carbon reduction initiative, and the significant reduction in carbon and carbon equivalents with biodiesel use.

Expected Results:

Research and data collected from this study will provide a basis for independent student research in renewable energy and for curriculum development in a core Environmental Science course.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

clean technologies; community-based; environmental biology; environmental chemistry; global climate; green chemistry; nitrogen oxides; northeast; renewable; transportation; Vermont, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemicals Management, Environmental Engineering, Atmosphere, environmental monitoring, waste to fuel conversion, energy conservation, alternative to petroleum diesel fuel, renewable fuel production, emission controls, sustainable transportation, transportation technology, biotechnology, energy efficiency, ethanol, alternative fuel, biodiesel fuel, alternative energy source, environmentally benign alternative, biofuel, green chemistry, renewable energy, waste oil feedstock

Relevant Websites:

Middlebury biodiesel Exit
Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report