CRMS biodiesel program sparks alternative
This past week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to reduce the production of crude oil by 1.2 million barrels a day to increase prices. Why? Because the price of gasoline is not high enough. Times are tough, and everyone needs to tighten the straps if we are ever going to make it.Some of the faculty at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School has an idea. It’s not an original idea; in fact it’s been around for a while, but it is a darn good start. The school has instituted an after-school program that teaches students the importance of alternative fuels. Not only the importance of, but how to make biodiesel fuel as well.”Biodiesel is the fastest-growing form of alternative fuel in the world,” said CRMS literature teacher Smith Maddrey, who also coordinates the biodiesel program.The whole idea was influenced by someone who was driving a car that ran on vegetable oil, Maddrey explained. The next step was to figure out how to incorporate a program with the school. Maddrey and a couple of colleagues sketched out the idea for the program on a napkin and began collecting oil from the deep fryers in the school’s kitchen, he said.
“Information on how to make the fuel is out there,” he said. “We also called some other biodiesel producers to gain more knowledge of how they do it.”A jarful of the fuel was made to see how involved the process was. In 2002 the program was started with that single batch of fuel, and since then it’s been full steam ahead, so to speak.”We bought a 1986 Ford F-350 diesel, and that has sort of been our mascot,” he said.Eight students participate in the program annually, learning the aspects of creating and producing biodiesel. There are a few different grades of biodiesel, but the students produce B100, which is a pure biodiesel fuel. Another type, B20, is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel. CRMS buses currently run on B20.”We’ve tried to get the school on board with the program,” Maddrey said. “The truck was an emblem of what we could do.”
The difference between vehicles that run on biodiesel and vegetable oil is any diesel vehicles can run on biodiesel but require a chemical reaction to the oil in order for it to work. Vegetable oil vehicles require a modification to the engine.”Biodiesel is more mainstream,” Maddrey said. “Vegetable oil is perceived as more of an outlaw alternative.”The point of the biodiesel program is really more than just how to make an alternative fuel.”We’re about education,” Maddrey said. “We try to get the word out about alternative fuels, but we also educate through making the fuel.”
The program doesn’t make a profit off the fuel but rather just burns it up in the school buses. But the rewards are still there.”If these students go out and spread the word about biodiesel then that is a positive thing,” Maddrey said. “We are making role models.”
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