School set to begin processing biodiesel

School set to begin processing biodiesel

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

After being approved for purchase by the Student Government Association last month, Simpson College’s biodiesel processor arrived on campus last Friday, Jan. 30.

The biodiesel processor is one part of the school’s sustainability initiative and will allow Simpson to produce its own biodiesel out of used cooking grease from Pfeiffer Dining Hall and the Storm Street Grill. The school will use the fuel in several of its diesel vehicles.

There have been concerns that the location and operation of the processor were not in compliance with Indianola’s zoning laws, but Student Body President Kyle Liske said that any issues have been resolved.

“They were rumors,” Liske said. “The city had some issues with the processor.”

He said that the issues arose from a misunderstanding that the city had in regards to what exactly was going to be produced and where it was going to be stored.

“Indianola’s zoning laws prohibit the storage of petroleum in a residential area,” Liske said. “This was a misunderstanding. What they didn’t understand is that there were no petroleum products involved in the process.”

Liske said he quickly responded to the concerns of the city.

“I wrote a letter and explained the intentions and logistics of the biodiesel processor,” Liske said. “They responded, saying it was approved on a few conditions; that production is not allowed on any other site (than the one specified) and stating that no offensive odors will be produced. In reality, it was within the zoning laws.”

With the confusion cleared up, the biodiesel processor arrived on campus and was installed last Friday. Earlier this week, the rest of the installation took place. The biodiesel processor is located in the campus services building just next to Goodwill.

Liske initially proposed the processor while looking for ways to reduce Simpson’s impact on the environment.

“The idea came after I took Environmental Issues with Dr. Ryan Rehmeier,” Liske said. “We looked at campus environmental concerns to see what could be reduced.”

When other ideas about how to improve Simpson’s sustainability failed to appear, Liske learned from a member of his family about another college’s way to reduce its own environmental impact.

“My brother mentioned a truck at Luther that runs on biodiesel vegetable oil,” Liske said. “I figured that if Luther could do it, then we could do it.”

Liske then did research about Luther College’s biodiesel processor and how the school’s program began. He learned that Luther has been using biodiesel since 2004 and 2,000 gallons of waste vegetable oil have been converted into biodiesel. Eighty gallons are produced in one month and are stored until it is able to be processed.

According to Liske’s report, it costs Luther about 82 cents, excluding labor, to produce one gallon of biodiesel fuel.

Liske’s report also stated that combined, the Grill and Pfeiffer produce anywhere from 1,430-1,630 gallons of vegetable oil per year. It also stated that Simpson has four diesel engines currently used on campus.

After presenting his report to President John Byrd and SGA, funds for the biodiesel processor were approved around Thanksgiving Break.

Simpson students see many advantages of the biodiesel processor. “It’s probably a good idea,” sophomore Clint Hakeman said. “Hopefully it’ll reduce the carbon footprint of the college.

Liske stated that he has many hopes for the usage of the processor, including making one large piece of transportation owned by Simpson less expensive to operate.

“It’s expensive because it runs on diesel,” Liske said. “We charge a large amount of money for it. Hopefully the cost will go down with the biodiesel processor.”

Senior Andy Conyers is excited for the processor as well.

“That’s pretty progressive,” Conyers said. “I like the direction the school’s going in.”