September 17, 2013
College students convert used cooking oil into fuel for BISD buses
Blinn College has fueled the intellectual curiosity of its students for more than 130 years. Now it’s literally fueling the buses that carry Brenham ISD students to their own classes.
Blinn Geology Instructor Dr. Cynthia Lawry and her class recently donated 110 gallons of biodiesel to Brenham ISD to help fuel Brenham's fleet of school buses.
With fuel prices averaging $3.79 throughout the state, the donation is valued at more than $400.
“The diesel we’re getting is as good as you can buy,” said Jon Forsythe, Brenham ISD director of student services. “We really appreciate the time and effort that Blinn College puts into this project.”
As part of their studies, Blinn students convert used cooking oil into biodiesel by adding methanol and potassium hydroxide. When the chemicals are mixed with the oil, they nap off the glycerin particle of the fat, leaving behind the biodiesel. The whole process takes just 15 minutes before students see the separation of the glycerin layer from the biodiesel.
The cooking oil is obtained from the Blinn cafeteria and other donations.
“I was really surprised Blinn had a program like this,” said sophomore Nathanael Chapman, who will take part in the program this year. “Once I heard about it, I knew I had to sign up for the class.”
This marks the second year Blinn has donated biodiesel to Brenham ISD. In 2012, the College donated 100 gallons.
“Hopefully we can continue this project for as long as Blinn continues to produce it,” Forsythe said.
The biodiesel project is part of Blinn's Service Learning program, which combines community service with classroom instruction or student club activities, focusing on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility to engage students. Service Learning involves students in activities that address local needs while developing their academic or professional skills and commitment to their community. For more information on Blinn’s Service Learning program, visit: www.blinn.edu/servicelearning.