Biodiesel University

courtesy of: Biodiesel University

Biodiesel University, a non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Maryland, focuses on educating students, teachers and consumers about renewable energy and environmental stewardship, while also inspiring students to pursue careers in science and technology. Using biodiesel as a tangible example of a renewable energy technology, they offer middle and high school students hands-on sensory experiences encompassing the entire lifecycle of a biofuel, believing that these fun and technology-rich experiences will gain America a higher output of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates.

On March 18, 2008, the metro (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) announced it would donate four of its dirtiest emissions transit buses to the university to be recycled into mobile teaching laboratories that will travel to schools, colleges and public events in the DC area and beyond. University founder and executive director Dan Goodman says the mobile labs will be “part classroom, part hands-on science center, and part theme park ride.” They will serve in part to educate visitors on the sustainability issues of food versus fuel, the carbon cycle, economic consequences, pollution, and land and water use.

The labs, which will be powered by sustainably-produced biodiesel and lubricated with vegetable-based biodegradable motor oil, hydraulic fluids and greases, have been under design since 2006 by students from both the University of Maryland and the Maryland Institute College of Art as part of a multi-institutional collaboration. They will consist of multiple sections, including a feedstock section, a processing section, and an applications section with examples including an electric generator, fuel cell, calorimeter, hot air balloon, water cannon, and jet engine, among others.

More information on the mobile labs can be found on their website, as well as upcoming events and ways to get involved.

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