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Cooking Grease to Fuel Buses at Wissahickon Charter School - EPA Deputy Administrator to Award Grant for Students to Make Biodiesel Fuel

Release Date: 10/16/2006
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – By the time school ends next June, students at Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Charter School are hoping that their school buses are running on the vegetable oil-based biodiesel fuel they will be manufacturing this year.

SmartFuel, Inc., a project of the William James Foundation of Washington, D.C., has been designed to provide practical experience and build confidence among middle school students that they can make a difference on the local and global level.

Under the guidance of SmartFuel staff, students will design a biodiesel processor and collection system that will produce biodiesel fuel comprised of 80 percent vegetable oil and 20 percent alcohol, either methanol or ethanol. Students will contact local restaurants to acquire waste vegetable oil for use in the project. The end product will be used to power the charter school’s own school buses.

At a ceremony today at the Wissahickon Charter School, EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock presented the foundation with a check for $15,440 and called the project “exciting and innovative.”

“By promoting the use of recycled bio-fuels, the drivers of tomorrow are becoming the environmental leaders of today,” said Peacock. “In order to ensure a clean, secure energy future, President Bush and EPA are proud to help the next generation understand the lasting environmental and health benefits of renewable fuels.”

Peacock’s visit to the school was in conjunction with national Children’s Health Month, a time when EPA focuses attention on the environmental risks that children face.

In addition to learning how to manufacture biodiesel fuel, Wissahickon Charter School students will pass their learning on to the community and other students. One evening per semester the school will host community sessions where the biodiesel processor will be on display and students will explain the process of creating the fuel.

It is estimated that the U.S. uses more than 37 trillion gallons of diesel fuel annually for highway vehicles. Diesel fuel combustion produces pollution in the form of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and fine particles. As an alternative to fossil fuel, biodiesel not only reduces pollution but also recycles used vegetable oil.