Background

Who we are

We started as a project for a Human Center Design & Engineering class in 2010. Since then we have been funded and gained momentum and members. All our members believe that we can positively affect the University of Washington’s sustainability by converting waste to a valuable product. We are also passionate about alternative energy and are striving to ensure that it becomes a feasible option for our future.

We competed in the Environmental Innovation Challenge in March 2011.

The Problem

The University of Washington (UW) prides itself on Sustainable practices. In 2011, UW received an A- from the College Sustainability Report Card. In 2009, the Sierra Nevada Organization named UW as the second “Coolest” school in the nation. With its dedication to environmental science research, sustainable on-campus practices, education, and technology transfer, the University of Washington is a global leader in sustainability. However, our standing and devotion to sustainability requires constant improvement and innovation on the part of the University. While this level of environmentalism is commendable, there is much room for improvement.

According to the campus sustainability report card, student involvement is in need of significant improvement. Many UW students are learning skills they can apply to further campus sustainability efforts.

Many campus operations require petroleum diesel, a fossil fuel. Unfortunately, fossil fuels release large amounts of previously sequestered carbon. Carbon dioxide emissions resulting from fossil fuel combustion are considered the leading cause of climate change. UW would greatly benefit if a more sustainable fuel replaced petroleum diesel.

Today

Today the Biodiesel Cooperative is working on several projects which will place it among the leading organizations at the University of Washington. Many of these projects are related to funding our procedures, quite a few of which will involve costly testing to ensure that our biodiesel complies with national standards for quality. Most of our efforts towards funding are being focused on a National Science Foundation grant. In preparation for these funds we are designing a college level STEM curriculum around the production of biodiesel here at UW.

Much of our efforts are being focused towards acquiring lab space here at UW. Since producing biodiesel involves caustic and toxic chemicals, a lab space must be fully equipt with all necessary safety precautions, and members of the engineering teams must be certified to work in a laboratory environment. In anticipation of utilizing such a lab space, our engineering teams are currently writing operating procedures and establishing methods for the upkeep of a biodiesel reactor and drywash columns.

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