From Pollution to Possibility: A Sustainable and Interdisciplinary Solution to Biodiesel Production Wastewater

EPA Grant Number: SU835546
Title: From Pollution to Possibility: A Sustainable and Interdisciplinary Solution to Biodiesel Production Wastewater
Investigators: Crumrine, David , Lishawa, Shane C. , Vail, Lane , McDowell, Sarah , Waickman, Zach
Institution: Loyola University of Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $90,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


An emerging global water crisis is compounding the stresses that a changing climate is exerting on human and natural communities. As concerned citizens, educators, and members of a university committed to excellence in research, values-based leadership, and service to humanity, we are compelled to address the climate change and freshwater crises.


Building on the scientific and educational successes achieved in Phase I, we will implement a three-branched Phase-II project focused on design, scientific experimentation, and outreach education. The project will consist of 1) designing a small-scale, affordable, and effective, solar-powered methanol recovery unit and building several prototypes; 2) continuing development of biological, non-toxic, and carbon emissions-reducing treatments for biodiesel waste through adaptive scientific experimentation and design, with the goal of launching a 0-waste, biodiesel production and waste-management system in year 2 and; 3) conducting outreach education consisting of a) developing and introducing high-school science curricula based on project outcomes, b) publishing research results and designs, and c) distributing published materials and conducting outreach to small-scale biodiesel producers throughout North America.


Goal 1) Achieve the ultimate biodiesel sustainability goal, zero-waste biodiesel production. We will evaluate our success by monitoring all energy and material inputs and outputs through our system. Goal 2) Design, build, test, and publish plans for a small-scale solar methanol recovery (SMR) unit for education, research, and biodiesel producers. Goal 3) Using the SMR unit as a teaching tool, create hands-on high school science curricula demonstrating environmental and physical science concepts and introduce the curricula in 5 high schools. Goal 4) Complete research on hydroponic growth of Salicornia for salinity reduction and additional oil production. Goal 5) Build a production-scale hydroponic desalination living system and incorporate it into our closed-loop biodiesel production process. Goal 6) Develop a co-product for the re-use of residual free-fatty-acids by conducting experimental acid-catalyzed biodiesel production, biogas production through anaerobic digestion, and candle production. Goal 7) Host a conference at LUC for the Collegiate Biodiesel Producers Network, and evaluate its success by conducting post-conference member surveys.

Supplemental Keywords:

alternative energy, carbon dioxide, Chicago, clean technology, conservation, documentary, ecology, emissions, global climate, halophyte, human health, K-12, policy analysis, pollution prevention, public forum, renewable, sulfur oxides, transportation, waste reduction, waste vegetable oil, waste water

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2014
  • Final

  • P3 Phase I:

    From Pollution To Possibility: A Sustainable And Interdisciplinary Solution To Biodiesel Production Wastewater  | Final Report