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

EPA Grant Number: SU835314
Title: From Pollution To Possibility: A Sustainable And Interdisciplinary Solution To Biodiesel Production Wastewater
Investigators: Crumrine, David , Coffman, Elizabeth A. , Krogh, Marilyn C. , Tuchman, Nancy C. , Lishawa, Shane C. , Eames, James Marshall , Frendreis, John P. , Hage, Adam , Orozco-Perez, Alejandro , Gonzalez, Alex , Dixon, Alexander , White, Amber , Monks, Andrew , Purcell, Caitlin , Amick, Daniel , Treering, David , Upp, David , Kerr, Dylan , Carroll, Emily , Throop, Erin , Ebbesmeyer, Erin , Gorman, Jacqueline , Kelso, Jennifer , Kamberos, Joseph , Harbison, Justin , Coghlan, Katelyn , Knuckolls, Kathryn , Vogel, Kirsten , Vail, Lane , Cain, Louis , Bagwell, Madeline , Reinke, Martin , Centeno, Melissa , Cinar, Mine , Maiya, Preksha , Hart-Winter, Rachel , Anglin, Roberta , McDowell, Sarah , Hoang, Tham , Hoellein, Timothy , Seed, Timothy , Waickman, Zach , Waichman, Zach
Institution: Loyola University of Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $14,999
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  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


We used our Phase-I award to 1) advance the overarching goal of the Loyola University Chicago Biodiesel Lab (LUCBP), to become the first- of-its-kind, zero-waste, sustainable biodiesel production facility in the United States and 2) to train and transform undergraduates through our experiential and interdisciplinary Solutions To Environmental Problems (STEP): Water course. Specifically, through this award, we achieved the following objectives: 1) designed, built, and conducted scientific research on a living and environmentally benign systems to purify biodiesel wash-water (BWW); 2) partnered with local biodiesel labs to replicate and test the effectiveness of our living technologies; 3) provided LUC students with invaluable scientific research and design experience testing the different components of a living machine, measuring chemistry throughout the treatment process, evaluating and enhancing the water treatment process, and designing the waste-water treatment system; 4) worked with LUC’s Center for Math and Science Education to train ~100 Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers on water quality and sustainability modules, resulting in sustainability education reaching thousands of underprivileged, inner-city K-12 students; 5) created a marketing and outreach campaign that includes: a documentary film on the project, active marketing events on campus, presentations at LUC’s student research symposium, and scientific meetings.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Twenty-two LUC students completed 8 interdisciplinary team research and communications projects: Determined the chemical composition of BWW; investigated Sphagnum moss’s capacity to neutralize BWW pH; evaluated the oil-seed producing salt marsh plant (Salicornia bigelovii) tolerance of BWW; determined the toxicity of BWW on invertebrates, moss, and vascular plants; determined the pH necessary and methods required to remove free-fatty acids (FFAs) from BWW; investigated the use of CO2 to neutralize BWW and determined the potential for utilizing biodiesel exhaust as a CO2 source for the neutralization process; designed, built and tested a methanol distillation unit for use with BWW and; wrote and filmed a documentary of the LUCBP P3 project. The results of this varied research will directly benefit the environment, people, and the economy by preventing the dumping of 227L/year of toxic methanol and 41L/year of toxic FFAs from our production facility, will reduce methanol exposure of students, faculty, and staff, and will result in over $250 in annual cost recovery. These positive sustainability impacts will be greatly compounded through our outreach education efforts to partner schools and biodiesel producers.


Our Phase I project has successfully served the needs of people, prosperity, and the planet and has allowed us to determine the baseline data and waste treatment methods necessary to implement a more ambitious Phase-II project. The success of Phase-I has depended upon the large committed team of interdisciplinary faculty, passionate student body, and supportive administration.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

alternative energy, atmosphere, biodiesel, carbon dioxide, chemistry, Chicago, clean technology, communications, conservation, documentary, ecology, education, emissions, EPA Region 5, food processing, global climate, Great Lakes, halophyte, human health, K-12, lab, Midwest, policy analysis, pollution prevention, public forum, production, renewable, Salicornia, sulfur oxides, sustainable, transportation, waste reduction, waste vegetable oil, waste water.

Relevant Websites:

News Stories:


P3 Phase II:

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