Cooking oil from dining halls utilized as biofuel

Reporter and Reporter

Cooking oil from the University dining halls is being used for more than just making fries.

Campus Operations and Dining Services have been using vehicles that run on used cooking oil.

Utilization of the oil started when Campus Operations converted lawn mowers to run on the new fuel. Dining Services followed suit by converting a delivery truck in August 2011.

Dining Services bought the truck, and took it to Full Circle Fuels to be converted. Full Circle Fuels is a biofuel company in Oberlin, Ohio, said David Maley, director of Facilities and Planning for Dining Services.

The truck was part of the Oaks’ Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, Maley said. A LEED designation is given to buildings which are environmentally friendly. The Oaks converted the truck to be LEED certified, though it hasn’t been certified yet.

“The Oaks certification is kind of hanging out there right now, where we haven’t got formal notice of that yet,” said Nick Hennessey, University sustainability coordinator.

Although Dining Services hasn’t had problems with its vehicle, it is not being used because Campus Operations stopped refining oil, Maley said. Operations stopped refining oil because the lawn mowers have been out of service due to clogging in the engines since summer 2012.

“The program for Operations is currently in suspension until we figure out how to make it better,” Hennessey said.

Dining Services is working to be able to refine the oil itself, Maley said. Refining the oil is used to get impurities and food out.

“It’s not like you just siphon that stuff out of the fryer tank … it goes through a big process in between that,” Hennessey said, “It filters out all the impurities and the food. It ends up being cleaner and more filtered than it was when they initially started cooking with it.”

While the vehicles do run on fryer oil, they start up using diesel fuel, switch to the oil, then use the diesel fuel again when they shut off, Maley said.

Hennessey said alternative fuels have many benefits, such as reducing costs and helping the environment.

“What gets put in to the air as far as emissions is just a fraction of if it had operated purely on diesel,” he said.

Some students seem receptive to the idea of these vehicles as well.

Freshman Michael Wasser said the biofuel vehicles are a “nice renewable energy source”.

“I think Bowling Green could easily become a leader of colleges in renewable resources,” said freshman Matt Slanaker.