Biofuel Bus Idea Developed By Grad Student

The U.S. government has been making a concerted effort to attract bright, young minds to careers in the development of clean, renewable energy. Some bright, young minds, however, don’t necessarily need the incentive to get involved. David Correll, a Ph.D. student at Iowa State University’s College of Business is one of those.

Correll, whose work recently earned some attention from EcoFriend, is the co-founder and president of “ISU BioBus” – a program created to convert spent cooking oil from one of the university’s dining halls into biofuel for a Cyride (the Ames, IA bus system) bus. It’s a project that has been two years in the making since it’s inception through another agricultural science group also founded by Correll.

ISU Biobus

image via ISU

“We have people who have been interested in home brewing fuel, so it was just something that a lot of us knew about,” said Correll, who earned his master’s degree from Iowa State with co-majors in sustainable agriculture and biorenewable resources and technology.

Now that Correll has 20 others on board with him, he’s getting some financial support in the way of two college sponsored grants and has gotten the approval he needed for a two-phase plan that will expand the program across the campus and, perhaps, out into the city of Ames. The group is actively collecting and converting oil into biodiesel, while looking to also source higher quantities of oil from all of the campus dining halls. Beyond the practical application of using the bio-fuel in city buses, the program serves to help educate and involve present and future students, perhaps organically attracting more minds to the fields of bio-fuels and clean energies.

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1 Comment

  • Reply March 22, 2011

    Michael Nesbitt

    Fine, but using “used” cooking oil can only extend so far. More research has to be done in using “pure plant oils” that go directly from seed to fuel need.
    The big complaint right now is that such direct diversion of plant oils impacts the food chain for human use. Possibly, but there is a strong arguement that most of the grains used for oil are currently being used to feed animals for human consumption, which very inefficiently converts plant protein to animal protein. What that means is that we would have to change our eating habits, demanding less meat and eating more plant protein, but that is mostly a problem of perception because eating less meat would apparently be healthier all around; physically, environmentally, and financially.
    How to avoid all the controversy? Reduce, reduce, reduce. Use vehicles less. Use fuel less. Use energy less. Easy to say, or in this case write, not so easy to convince to do.

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