Sustainability Biodiesel

Waste makes haste: How used cooking oil becomes bus fuel

Many University-wide initiatives have grown out of Loyola’s Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP) course: the apiaries, the Loyola station farmers market, and the campus-wide bottled water ban. However, the biodiesel program is the one that has been a permanent fixture for over a decade and caught the attention of the EPA, earning it a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award in 2015.

The biodiesel fuel production process hasn’t been a static one for the past 10 years though. Zach Waickman, the lab manager, and his students continue to make the business more energy and cost effective. One of the biggest successes has been BioSoap, which uses glycerin, one of the chemicals left behind from the production process. The hand soap has been used in the restrooms on Loyola’s Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses since 2016. The lab’s other “byproduct” products have included patio torch fuel, windshield wiper fluid, and fertilizer in the past—however when a new idea can’t become a viable part of the business, the team stops production and tries something new.

The STEP-initiated program began in a classroom in 2007 and today is housed in the Searle Biodiesel Lab, which was named when the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) was launched five years ago.