The University of Washington Biodiesel Cooperative is an undergraduate-led registered student organization that was established in 2010 as a way for students to become more involved in waste management and alternative energy through hands-on learning. After losing our lab in 2011 to an incoming professor in the Bioresource Science and Engineering Department, the Cooperative has spent the past three years seeking a permanent lab space. We collaborated with the Chemical Engineering Department to acquire temporary lab space in 2012, and through a CSF grant, were able to perform basic tests on our old biodiesel reactor. From these tests, UW Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) deemed our old reactor unsafe to run indoors without proper ventilation, and required us to narrow our search for space to facilities with chemical fume hoods.
After receiving a unanimous approval and support from ASUW in the form of an initiative to find our group permanent lab space, we contacted vice provosts, deans, department chairs and facilities services to help us in our search. Although we were heavily supported, there simply was not a viable space to support our group. Luckily, in the spring of 2013 we caught a breakthrough with UW Transportation Services and Joshua Kavanagh, who offered an open lot to us on their grounds off 25th Ave, as a part of UW Motor Fleet property. Since this time, we have collaborated with Transportation Services and the Capital Projects office to plan and permit the location with the city for the installation of a retrofitted shipping container laboratory. This new facility will be modeled out of a large shipping container, and will contain a functioning biodiesel reactor that eliminates on-campus waste through the conversion of used cooking oil generated by the campus restaurants into fuel-grade biodiesel. With the financial support of the Campus Sustainability Fund to cover the expense of building, permitting, and supplies, the UW Biodiesel Cooperative will finally be able to make this vision a reality.
When compiled, these costs are substantial, and so we are proposing a request of $89,682 to cover our startup expenses. Approximately $30,000 of this cost will cover the shipping container design and purchase, $20,000 will cover foundation and land preparation and the remaining costs will go to permitting and salaries for architects, inspections and planning services. From a previous grant from the CSF in 2012, we were able to quantitatively justify our need for a professional biodiesel reactor though vapor characterization, and from this, gained the support of the College of Engineering, as well as a sponsorship of $8,000 to go towards the purchase of a new biodiesel reactor. Additionally, the lot for our new lab saves us a significant operational costs, as Transportation Services has allowed us to occupy the space rent-free.
The website for UW Biodiesel is http://students.washington.edu/biofuel/, and current officers can be found and contacted through the officers/contact tab.