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Biodiesel pipes

Biodiesel Program

Our biodiesel program converts used vegetable oil into fuel and other products, with the long-term goal of reducing waste, conserving resources, and combatting climate change.  In the Searle Biodiesel Lab, our goal is to operate a zero-waste production process while offering experiential learning opportunities for students.

The Facility

The Searle Biodiesel Lab was built in 2013 to accommodate our growing operations and was officially named in October 2014. The lab is located within the School of Environmental Sustainability’s main building on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. The space houses our fifth-generation biodiesel processor, methanol recovery system, and soap production equipment. It also contains laboratory space for research and quality testing. View the video tour below to learn more. 

Video Tour of the Searle Biodiesel Lab

Products

The biodiesel program collects used cooking oil from Loyola food service facilities, other universities, local businesses, and institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium and converts this waste oil into renewable biodiesel fuel. The resulting fuel powers our fleet of campus shuttle buses. The lab team uses byproducts from fuel production to make environmentally friendly soap for campus restrooms and kitchens. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lab also produced hand sanitizer for use on campus. 

Quality Control

The Searle Biodiesel Lab includes an extensive chemical analytics research lab that allows our students to test all of our fuel to ensure it meets the highest quality standards. We use industry-standard equipment and peer-reviewed procedures and cross-check our results with an external (third party) lab for accuracy. In the process, students gain hands-on experience with lab instruments and analytical chemistry. 

Get Involved

Student Internships 

Dedicated Loyola students participate in all aspects of the biodiesel program. Interns help run the lab’s day-to-day operations, working on biodiesel production, oil collection, and waste processing. Students also generate new ideas and lead projects such as new product development, education initiatives, marketing campaigns, and energy efficiency efforts. Internship opportunities are open to undergraduate students of every level and from every discipline. Visit our jobs and internships page for information about current openings.

Oil Donation

The biodiesel program works with a professional oil collection service, Green Grease Environmental, to collect used deep-fryer oil from local restaurants, cafeterias, and food processing facilities. Bulk oil donations are tax-deductible, and collection is available at no cost. To learn how your business or organization can participate, contact Zach Waickman at zwaickm@luc.edu.

Individuals can drop off used vegetable oil from home cooking at the School of Environmental Sustainability between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Enter at 6349 N. Kenmore Avenue and look for the oil donation sign on the left-hand side as you enter the lobby. Please note that we cannot take animal fats, pan drippings, or petroleum products.

Resources for High School Teachers and Students

The biodiesel program offers a variety of resources to help incorporate environmental literacy into high school education. We use biodiesel as a working example of conservation, energy cycles, and sustainability. Educational resources include:

To learn more about these opportunities, contact Zach Waickman at zwaickm@luc.edu.

News

Faculty member fills hand sanitizer at Loyola lab
Health and Safety

Helping hands

Inside the School of Environmental Sustainability, Loyola is addressing its hand sanitizing needs with creativity and resourcefulness.

Learn More.
Faculty member prepares cooking oil to made into fuel
SUSTAINABILITY BIODIESEL

Waste makes haste: How used cooking oil becomes bus fuel

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.

Learn More.

The Facility

The Searle Biodiesel Lab was built in 2013 to accommodate our growing operations and was officially named in October 2014. The lab is located within the School of Environmental Sustainability’s main building on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. The space houses our fifth-generation biodiesel processor, methanol recovery system, and soap production equipment. It also contains laboratory space for research and quality testing. View the video tour below to learn more. 

Products

The biodiesel program collects used cooking oil from Loyola food service facilities, other universities, local businesses, and institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium and converts this waste oil into renewable biodiesel fuel. The resulting fuel powers our fleet of campus shuttle buses. The lab team uses byproducts from fuel production to make environmentally friendly soap for campus restrooms and kitchens. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lab also produced hand sanitizer for use on campus. 

Quality Control

The Searle Biodiesel Lab includes an extensive chemical analytics research lab that allows our students to test all of our fuel to ensure it meets the highest quality standards. We use industry-standard equipment and peer-reviewed procedures and cross-check our results with an external (third party) lab for accuracy. In the process, students gain hands-on experience with lab instruments and analytical chemistry.