Center for Water and the Environment

EPA Funds Biodiesel Team

Lisa Ott (CWE Faculty Associate and Associate Professor in Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Janine Stone (CWE Faculty Associate and Assistant Professor in Economics Department) led an interdisciplinary team of students to compete at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Planet, and Prosperity competition in Washington D.C. in May 2017.

An EPA grant funded the faculty and student team to research a sustainability challenge over the course of a year, and travel to the competition to present their findings and innovative solution. The team, comprised of chemistry, economics, and agricultural business students working together, focused on the challenge of developing a solution to the biodiesel industry’s waste-glycerol problems.

The biodiesel team developed a process for using biodiesel waste glycerol in the production of deep eutectic solvents, an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional volatile organic solvents. The team tested the chemical process for developing DESs from waste-glycerol, and studied the economic viability of deep eutectic solvents used in university chemistry labs instead of conventional volatile organic solvents.

The faculty and student team’s success led to Phase 2 funding by the EPA to continue their biodiesel research through 2019.