Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meliora Weekend 2009

Make sure to stop by the UR Biodiesel Bus on Saturday, October 10th between 10am and 1pm. The bus will be parked in front of the Palestra in the Faculty Road circle. Stop by to get information on the program, meet the students who work in the lab, and check out the bus! Or, if you can't make it but want to find a time to check out the lab, just email Eric Weissmann at

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Monday, September 28, 2009

New Partnership with AEY Construction

We are pleased to announce that effective immediately, AEY Construction will begin using UR Biodiesel's fuel in their on-campus construction equipment. This promotes sustainability in a new way, and supports our local businesses at the same time. AEY is in campus almost every day working on various construction projects for University Central Utilities. So, next time you see the AEY backhoe digging away, it probably is being run on biodiesel made in our lab!...

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UR Biodiesel Group Meeting

Make sure to stop by TOMORROW, Tuesday, September 29th at 6:00pm in Wilson Commons 122 for the full group UR Biodiesel meeting. We have lots to discuss, so please remember to stop by!...

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Get Involved!

Welcome back to campus! We are starting to get lab shifts scheduled for the Fall Semester. If you are interested, make sure to email (UR Biodiesel Chairperson) or (Lab Manager). We still have lots of shifts available, but they are going fast!...

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Monday, September 7, 2009

First UR Biodiesel Meeting of Fall 2009

Are you interested in getting involved in UR Biodiesel? We have lots of opportunities! You can work in the lab, pursue independent research, build connections with the community, manage advertising contracts, and more. Stop by our first meeting of the year tomorrow, September 8th, at 6pm in Wilson Commons 121. We hope to see you there!...

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Sunday, April 26, 2009


UR Biodiesel officially kicked off last Wednesday at a well-attended kickoff celebration. Thanks to all of you who were able to attend! We are now hard at work getting set up for the bus to be in a regular rotation. ...

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kickoff Ceremony

Check out the link to the Biodiesel Kickoff Press Release: The kickoff is next Wednesday, April 22nd, at 1:30pm. Please join us! Here is some more information:

What: The UR Biodiesel Kickoff Ceremony
Where: On Hutchison Road (the road between the Hopeman Engineering Building and the Goergen BME/Optics Building) on the U of R River Campus and in the Goergen BME/Optics Building Atrium.
When: Wednesday, April 22nd (Earth Day). The ceremony will begin at 1:30pm, and a reception including tours of the facility will follow until 3pm.
Why: Three years in the making, UR Biodiesel is ready to officially kick off and begin running a campus bus on biodiesel, fueled by the grease from River Campus dining centers. Join us at the ceremony to learn a little bit about the history of the project from those involved and to hear President Joel Seligman discuss the University's commitment to sustainability. From 2-3pm, you can be among the first to ride the biodiesel bus as it drives across campus where you can get a close look at where we make biodiesel and get a tour of the UR Biodiesel lab. Also, feel free to stop by the Goergen BME/Optics atrium for some refreshments, an opportunity to learn about the biodiesel process, chat with the students, faculty and staff involved, and get a coupon for some free french fries to keep our "fuel" supply strong! For more information, visit

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bus Being Painted

Thanks to the help of American Fleet, the Biodiesel Bus is currently being professionally painted, sanded and repaired. Also, we are using environmentally friendly water-based paint! By the end of this week, the bus will also have the decals installed as well...

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bus Prep and Painting Begins

The Biodiesel Bus has been moved to the American Fleet garage, as they will be prepping, repairing and painting it for us to prepare for the kickoff. (Also, big thanks to American Fleet for their generosity and support!) Meanwhile, we are still working on our first batch in the lab. The biodiesel spent the weekend in the settling tank, and tomorrow we plan to drain the glycerin and pump the biodiesel into the wash tank. Things are certainly moving quickly with UR Biodiesel! ...

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

We Are Making Biodiesel!

Yesterday, we transferred the WVO from the storage drum into the processor. Today, we added lye and methanol and started running the processor to allow the chemicals to mix with the WVO. We will let it sit in the processor overnight, and then continue the process tomorrow. Stay tuned for another update soon...

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

First Batch Tomorrow!

After long last, we plan to begin our first batch of biodiesel tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1pm. Anybody is welcome to join us. I'm sure there will be hiccups, but hopefully it will work!...

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Want to Paint the Bus?

We need your help! We will be sanding, cleaning, priming and painting the bus on Saturday and Sunday (THIS weekend). We could use all the help we can get! Email me at if you think you can help us out!...

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Piping 96% Complete; First Batch Expected This Week

We are very, very close to finishing all of the piping and the processor. We need to complete one more small section of pipe, and then we are basically done. All of our electrical work is done, we have tightened a few sections with leaks and fixed a few problems, and we are almost ready to go. After a few labels and safety measures are completed, we expect to actually produce our first batch of biodiesel on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Stay tuned for an update on how that goes....

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Bus Painting

As it turns out, it is a little too expensive to have the Biodiesel Bus professionally painted. So instead, we are going to paint it ourselves! If you or your organization are interested in helping with this, please let me know. We plan to paint the bus next weekend (April 4-5). We already tested out the paint color and look on a corner of the bus, and it looks fantastic. ...

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

UR Biodiesel Kickoff

Sorry it has been a little while since the last post. The UR Biodiesel Kickoff is officially scheduled for Wednesday, April 22nd at 1:30pm (Earth Day). The event will take place outside the Goergen BME/Optics building on the River Campus (across from the Hopeman Engineering Building).

From 1:30-2pm, a few individuals will speak for a few minutes about this history and significance of UR Biodiesel. Then, from about 2pm-3:30pm, anybody interested can take a ride on the UR Biodiesel bus and take a tour of the UR Biodiesel Lab. At the same time, others can join us in the Munnerlyn Atrium in the Goergen BME/Optics building for refreshments, photos, conversation and general sustainability information. ...

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bus Advertising / How to Contribute to UR Biodiesel

Are you interested in advertising on the UR Biodiesel Bus, or making a contribution to support it? Do you know somebody who might be? We are actively seeking funding to help cover costs associated with the UR Biodiesel project. If you or somebody you know can help us out, please email me at and I will send you more information....

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Piping Complete Through Settling Tank

Last week Dan, Dave and Eris completed the piping into the settling tank. All that is left is to finish the piping from the settling tank and into the wash tank, and then from the wash tank and into the dry tank. We are trying to complete the electric work to the processor next week, but we already tested the processor to make sure that it works. So, overall, we are hopefully on track to finish up everything in the facility in the next couple weeks!...

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

WVO Added to Storage Drum; Fat-Mobile Tested Successfully!

Remember all of that Waste Vegetable Oil that we had lying around the facility? On Friday, we went ahead and poured it into one of the 55-gallon storage drums. Let me promise you -- that's some gross stuff. It's just nasty. Since the weather was so nice, it was also a great day to test out the "Fat-Mobile." This is the tank that we outfitted to pump WVO into it from the dining centers an then pump it back out into our storage. After some initial complications, we finally got it to work.

I wore gloves and a lab coat while pouring the WVO into the storage container because it was splashing all over me.

Eris and Ken are trying to "prime" the pump in this photo. This was not an easy task, and involved them getting their hands a little dirty.

Here is a photo of the first successful test of the pump. The long pole on the right has a few holes near the bottom to suck the WVO into the tank. Since the holes are small, it also ensures that we do not suck in bones or other large objects, so it acts as a pre-filtering system. The small pipe on the left is where the WVO is pumped out into the tank....

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bus Design Nearing Completion

Congratulations to the winners of the UR Bio-Bus design competition! They are Jose Uvalles and Roxana Cueva, and they designed a great looking bus that really captures the right image. We will be revealing the design soon, so look out for that. Congrats again! ... Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

WVO Building Up

We have now made quite a few pickups of Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) from Danforth and the Pit. Additionally, we are starting to collect WVO from Facilities employees looking for a good way to get rid of it, which is fantastic. We are a free and easy way to safely dispose of WVO...and best of all, we are coverting it into biodiesel! We just about have enough WVO to complete a batch, so we are just waiting to finish and test the processor before we do that.

Do you happen to have WVO from your personal fryer? We want it! Email me at and we can schedule a time to get it from you. Don't just throw it away...we will put it to good use! ...

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Processor Operational

Sorry it's been a while since the last update; we've been a little swamped. We have quite a bit of piping completed now. We have successfully pumped water from the WVO storage containers into the processor, heated the water and recirculated it. This is great news, as it means that the processor (water heater) works and much of the most essential piping is complete. This week we will be continuing to work on piping from the processor into the settling tank, over to the wash tank, and then to the dry tank. We also hope that electrical and water drops will be completed this or next week. ...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Progress in the Lab

After two days of hard work, we have successfully connected the WVO drums to the processor with a filter in between. The first pump has also begun to be connected to the piping. This is very significant progress! From the photos, you can see that there is still work to do connecting piping to the processor, and then moving the biodiesel over to the settling tank. Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Section of Piping Complete!

Today was one of our most successful days of work in the Biodiesel Lab. Dan, Dave and their team of 3 or 4 others that came to help successfully designed and connected the piping for the first part of the biodiesel process. We were able to successfully run water through the WVO storage drums to what will eventually connect to the processor, and we were able to successfully drain it. While this may seem like a small step, it was great progress for us! Of course, we have a lot more to get done, so if you are interested in helping, let us know.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Work Begins on Processor

Most of the parts are in, and Dave and Dan have begun to really start working on the processor. Much of the piping has been arranged, and from this point forward we will be in the Biodiesel Lab almost every day putting together a little more of the processor. Are you interested in helping build? Contact Dave at or Dan Fink at To the left is a picture of some piping being arranged for placement on the WVO storage drums. ... Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

First WVO Pickup from the Pit

Well we knew that WVO was nasty, but we didn't quite realize how nasty until we ladled it from one container to another. We picked up about another 6 or 7 gallons from the Pit yesterday and added it to our collection. The picture to the left is of all the WVO that we have collected so far, including waste turkey fryer oil from somebody's house. The picture on the right is Eris attempting to get the pump to work, before we realized that we would have ladle the WVO one scoop at a time. For more pictures, make sure to visit our Picasa album...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UR Biodiesel Kickoff

We have just about finalized the date of the UR Biodiesel kickoff. It will be Wednesday, April 22nd, at 1pm. So save the date! (Note that it is also Earth Day). We hope that the event will be help partially outdoors between Gavett, Wallis and Hutch, and partially indoors in the Goergen Hall Atrium...

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New UR Biodiesel Logo!

Thanks to Emma Vann from the Undergraduate Art and Art History Council for designing this logo for us! It will be used in a number of ways, and we are very excited to have it. Emma is also coordinating the bus design competition, so if you are interested, make sure to submit a design! (See the below post for more information). Thanks again Emma!...
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Biodiesel Bus Design Competition

The UR Biodiesel team is working with the Art and Art History Undergraduate Council to design the Biodiesel-Bus. The bus is 38 feet long and 7.5 feet tall. Are you interested in submitting a design?... See the below template of the bus so you know what it looks like, and submit your design to Morey 424 by February 25th. If you have any questions, please email or The winning artist will work with University Publications to finalize it and then paint the bus. To download the Adobe Illustrator file that has a template that you can use, visit the Resources page of the UR Biodiesel website (the file should be there to download soon). Good luck!

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Sustainability Beyond Biodiesel

One goal of the UR Biodiesel project is to be sustainable throughout the entire process. This means everything from using Cogen to heat the UR Biodiesel facility to using recycled plumbing so that we don't need to buy new. Not only is this sustainable, but it saves money. Here is a mostly complete list of everything we are doing sustainably (other than the whole using waste vegetable oil to power a campus bus, of course).

1. Cogen/Radiant Heating: The UR Biodiesel facility is heated by a hot water radiant flooring system using the University's Cogeneration plant. This truly "closes the sustainable loop" and uses an existing heat source. We hope to eventually use this same Cogen hot water to preheat the waste vegetable oil before it enters the processor, but this is a little farther off....

2. Sink: The sink in the facility was removed from another campus site (NSRL/UFC) when lab space was converted into offices.

3. Waste Vegetable Oil/Processor stand: The stand that the waste vegetable oil storage drums sit on, which is the same stand that the processor will sit on, is a combination of materials from three buildings on campus, including NSRL/UFC, 612 Wilson Blvd., and the Frederick Douglass Building. The parts used to put it together were mostly surplus from various projects.

4. Shelving Unit: The shelving units, on top of which are the settling tank, wash tank and dry tank, was purchased from a surplus supply warehouse at a fraction of the cost. The shelving is certainly not brand new, but it is sturdy, gets the job done, and eliminated the need for a brand new shelving unit.

5. Lab Bench: The lab bench in the facility, which is important for running tests and completing paperwork, was given to us by a Chemical Engineering lab in Gavett. It was in a lab that did not need it, and we were certainly willing to take it off their hands.

6. 55-Gallon Drums: We are using a number of 55-gallon drums to store, wash, dry and heat the waste vegetable oil and biodiesel. We have a steel 55-gallon drum that we plucked right out of the trash, and we are using two 55-gallon poly-drums that were given to us from the River Campus auto shop that were formerly used to store windshield washer fluid.

7. Piping: Much of the piping we are using in the facility, including the water pipes, Cogen pipes, and pipes that will be used to move the WVO around the facility, is salvaged material from various construction projects around campus.

8. Exit Sign: The Exit sign we are using over the door to the facility was leftover from a renovation job on campus.

9. Door Hardware: The hardware on the door to the facility itself, including the handle, the latch, etc., was recycled from another door which was replaced.

10. Heat Exchanger: The heat exchanger that is being used for the UR Biodiesel facility was abandoned after Cogeneration was installed in a campus building, so it no longer used steam and therefore had no more need for the heat exchanger.

11. Processor: The processor itself is the most important component of the entire biodiesel-making process, and arguably the most expensive. We are using an old water heater as our processor, as it was unused in a River Campus building.

12. Methanol: Methanol is one of the chemicals used in the processor, as it is mixed with the waste vegetable oil. We will be acquiring our methanol from the University Hazardous Waste office. That office takes waste chemicals such as methanol from around the University to safely dispose of them. What a better way to dispose of waste methanol than by using it to create biodiesel!
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Progress in the Facility

We are making progress in the UR Biodiesel Facility, with most of the hardware now installed. Our shelving units are now installed, the fire cabinet and lab bench have been moved into the facility and placed, and the racks for the WVO storage tanks and the processor itself are just about complete. Click below for more information and photos...

Remember, you can view all of the most up-to-date UR Biodiesel pictures by clicking here.

We are in the process of ordering the smaller components necessary to "connect the dots" if you will. This is everything from pumps (three have already arrived) to tubes, plumbing equipment, etc. We are trying to scrounge together as many unused parts from around the University as possible before ordering, both to save money and in the overall interest of sustainability.

Finally some more of our lab supplies were delivered last week, including funnels and latex gloves.
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First WVO Pickup This Week

One very exciting development is that we are just about scheduled to make our first WVO pickup this Friday afternoon. It won't be a "traditional" pickup, in that we will not be using our tanker (aka. Fat-Mobile) yet. However, we did want to get started in gathering WVO so that we can start running tests. Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!

Monday, February 9, 2009

UR Biodiesel's New Blog!

After more than two years, UR Biodiesel finally has a website and a blog! We will use this blog to post updates, including video and photos, of the UR Biodiesel project. Check back as often as you'd like to get the most up to date information on the project! Click Here to Read The Rest of This Post!