updated: 4/13/2010 12:48:18 PM

Franklin College Converts Used Fryer Oil to Biodiesel Fuel

InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

For the first time, Franklin College says it has converted a gallon of used fryer oil from the school's cafeteria into biodiesel fuel to power a tractor. Students are now refining the process and trying to find the most efficient technique possible. Business students are also working on calculating the cost of savings from recycling and converting the used cooking oil. Franklin College says it uses 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel annually.

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Press Release

April 12, 2010

FRANKLIN, Ind. – For the first time in the college’s history, a group of students, faculty and staff converted a gallon of used fryer oil from the campus cafeteria into biodiesel fuel and successfully powered a college-owned tractor on campus.

The idea for the project, sparked by the winter term class “Going Green Matters,” came from two freshmen students, Jimmy Qualters and Drew Royalty. Following a class presentation by Tom Patz, project manager for organizational development and safety and the college’s advisor to the Green Team, they decided to share their idea with Patz. The project grew from there.

Patz, Qualters and Royalty took the idea to others on campus, including Les Petroff, dining services director, Larry Bridges, physical facilities superintendent, and Dr. Edward Chickwana, assistant professor of chemistry. After hearing about the proposed project, chemistry students Marianne Tolmachoff and Katherine Walke volunteered to help develop the chemical process required to make the conversion. The group worked for several weeks on the project, which came to a successful fruition on March 18 on Dame Mall.

Now, proven to work, students are refining the process they implemented, trying to find the most efficient technique possible. Business students are also working on calculating the cost of savings from recycling and converting the college’s used cooking oil.

According to Patz, the college uses approximately 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel annually. While the program has a long way to go before it could replace that quantity, it has the potential to make a significant impact. “This project has developed into a wonderful example of how our students have demonstrated leadership in engaging campus resources to expand our greening initiatives,” said Patz.

The college wants to continually reduce its carbon footprint, eventually becoming carbon neutral, and has taken several steps in recent years to attain that goal, including signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007. Native tree replacement, composting, recycling, updating lights and using Energy Star equipment are just a few of the steps taken toward achieving its goal. The college received the Indiana Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in 2009 for its achievements in greening.

The college also hosts an annual Earth Day luncheon and lecture during April to help raise awareness about greening. This year’s luncheon will be on Friday, April 23 with keynote speaker Steven Cohen, executive director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and 1974 alumnus of the college. For more information about the luncheon, call the Public Relations office at (317) 738-8185.

Founded 175 years ago in 1834, Franklin College is a residential four-year undergraduate liberal arts institution with a scenic, wooded campus located 20 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. The college prepares men and women for significant careers through the liberal arts, offering its 1,047 students 36 majors, including biology, business, education and journalism. In 1842, the college began admitting women, becoming the first coeducational institution in Indiana and the seventh in the nation. Franklin College maintains a voluntary association with the American Baptist Churches USA. For more information, visit www.franklincollege.edu.

Source: Franklin College

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