Penn State Builds Biodiesel Refinery
Cooking oil from six dining halls at Penn State will soon be collected and processed into biodiesel fuel to help defray energy costs at the University.
At a cost of $120,000, a new biodiesel refinery within an existing beef barn on the Penn State property will soon be operational, according to Glen R. Cauffman, manager of farm operations and services at the Farm Services Building at Penn State.
Cauffman, together with Paul S. Trella, director of product marketing, ag and consumer tractors and attachments with New Holland Agriculture, recently spoke to more than three dozen producers and agri-industry representatives in Lancaster.
The focus of the monthly Ag Issues Forum was on the new facility as well as ways in which New Holland Agriculture is helping Penn State to more effectively use renewable resources – some of which run New Holland tractors at Penn State.
In 2006, according to Cauffman, “the entire University switched to 20 percent biodiesel – B20 – to success,” he said.
The University has put tractors from New Holland, including those running B20 as well as B100 biodiesel, to use. And in an effort to be more fuel-sufficient, Cauffman noted that the refinery is being built at the edge of the campus, near the beef facilities, to utilize the used cooking oil from the six campus dining halls.
Cauffman said Penn State is collecting the oil now so that by late spring or early summer, the refinery will be turning out biodiesel. By the fall of 2009, the refinery expects to be handling an average of 20,000 gallons of product per year, mostly canola oil.
Eventually, much of the farm equipment may be able to run the pure product – B100. But for now, a B20 to B100 blend will be produced for many vehicles. “Right now, ambulances and emergency vehicles on campus do not use biodiesel in the wintertime, for fears of potential cold weather problems,” Cauffman explains.
Eventually, noted the farm manager, the University will be able to grow sunflower and canola itself and extract the oil for its own energy use throughout the University.
Penn State has four biodiesel tractors from New Holland, of which two can run on B100. The vision, Cauffman said, is to ensure Penn State will have its own self-sustaining energy program.
According to Trella, the goal is to provide more tractors to Penn State and continue to develop solutions in which the University, and all of agriculture, can be more energy-independent.