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Latino State News

Whitney Young HS Students Create Biodiesel for Lexus Eco Challenge

As part of the Lexus Eco Challenge, students from Whitney Young High School are using a mini oil refinery they created at UIC to transform used cooking oil into a usable and clean biodiesel.

Using pantyhose to filter used fryer oil and an oil refinery made of drums, pipes and a water heater, these students are producing a legitimate car/truck/bus-running fuel. Once filtered, heated, and mixed with an organic salt (methoxide) , the biodiesel is able to power the Volkswagen Jetta they have as a test vehicle.

Three times a week, the five-student Biodiesel Team produces the eco-friendly bio-fuel and already has 93 gallons and the hope to increase that to 200 gallons by January. Once the fuel is made and collected, the students will be sending it to a farming cooperative in a rural Illinois town.

According to its site, “The Lexus Eco Challenge is a life-changing opportunity for teens across the nation to make a difference in the environmental health of our planet, one community at a time.”

Last Saturday, the team drove the Jetta (filled with petroleum-based diesel fuel) to the Illinois Department of Transportation and had the emissions tested. The vehicle had an opacity rating of 20 percent. When biodiesel was added to an eighth of the tank of the regular diesel, that rating went down to 4 percent, which was an 80 percent reduction in emissions. Needless to say…greener is cleaner.