We want to create biodiesel in a sustainable way and part of this means creating as little waste as possible. One of the by-products of biodiesel production is a toxic mixture of 80% glycerin and 20% methanol. After distilling the methanol out of the glycerin, to be reused in biodiesel production (see Methanol Recovery), the glycerin can be used as an ingredient in soap. This allows us to be one step closer to closing the loop and creating less waste.
The liquid soap project began during Fall 2008 with a group of students enrolled in the Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP): Biodiesel course. Prior to the liquid soap trials students previously enrolled in the STEP course had tried creating Bar Soap, but they were unable to make a consistent, quality bar soap. The students in Fall 2008 wanted to give liquid soap a shot and they eventually succeeded.
After a consistent, high quality recipe was created for small-scale batches of soap the biodiesel lab decided to scale up and start distributing liquid soap on campus. It took some time to master a process to scale up the recipe, but after several months and finding the right equipment the process was perfected and the liquid soap, BioSoap, was ready to be distributed to campus stores for sale.
In the future it would be ideal to have the liquid soap to be used as the primary soap throughout campus. This would mean being used as the soap in the soap dispensers in all the bathrooms on campus. If this goal were to be accomplished it would save Loyola money, and it would benefit the environment because the soap would be locally and sustainably produced with no transportation needed.