Biofuels Technology Initiative
THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR GENEROUS DONORS!!! We surpassed our initial goal of $2,000 with 2 weeks to spare, so we have created a new stretch goal of $3,500! The extra funds will subsidize costs of extra chemicals, cooking oil transportation licensing, and personal protective equipment like goggles and lab coats! Please continue to support us and a greener UC Berkeley by sharing or donating today!
Who We Are
The Biofuels Technology Club at UC Berkeley started out as a class project in which six classmates designed a proposal to promote sustainability within the campus community. The proposal was entered into the “Big Ideas @ Berkeley” competitions in 2014 and 2015 and won second prize both times. After receiving funding from this competition, the club has grown to host over forty multidisciplinary students participating in research and scale-up aspects of the project. The club hopes to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling cooking oil into biodiesel.
The club has continued to conduct extensive research on the transesterification process used to produce biodiesel, and is currently refining its own production process by reducing wasteful byproducts and necessary reagents. In addition, the scale-up team is currently constructing and testing a 50-gallon-per-week reactor pilot plant at the Richmond Field Station that will, once further scaled up in the long run, convert all waste cooking oil produced on campus into usable biofuel. As a club, it provides a unique hands-on learning opportunity for engineering students to design a process, build a refinery from scratch, and overcome all the logistical obstacles along the way.
By recycling waste oil from dining halls, UC Berkeley’s waste stream is reduced, as well as campus dependence on non-renewable energy. It is becoming increasingly important to save on carbon emissions, and we need to do everything we can to serve as an example and teach students to be mindful of waste and what we can do to reduce it. Biofuel is a much more sustainable fuel choice than fossil fuels, reducing net CO2 by 78% and greenhouse gas emissions in general by 57-86% per volume burned. We project that our pilot plant will be operational by the end of the academic year, at which point ASTM testing will confirm the credibility of BTC’s biodiesel. We will also cut current disposal/recycling costs for the university once implemented. Ultimately, the goal is to utilize the biodiesel produced “in-house” as fuel for vehicles on campus, teach students along the way, and make a more sustainable and self-sufficient UC Berkeley!
How You Can Help
By making a donation today you can be a big part of our new and exciting initiative to reduce waste produced in our dining halls and further Berkeley’s commitment to sustainability! The funds will enable us to produce quality fuel and give us credibility when sharing (and eventually selling!) our fuel with future partners. Once our process is refined, we hope to share our story and successes with students across multiple college campuses, so that we can all work towards a sustainable future together. Thank you for your support!
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