BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY

November 24, 2008
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Greg Ritchie drives the first campus mower to run on vegetable oil as project participants (left to right) Scott Euler, Duane Hamilton and Dr. Enrique Gomezdelcampo observe the trial run.

Greg Ritchie drives the first campus mower to run on vegetable oil as project participants (left to right) Scott Euler, Duane Hamilton and Dr. Enrique Gomezdelcampo observe the trial run.

Waste cooking oil to power campus mowers

Next summer, when the grass is green and the lawn mowers go about their work, campus pedestrians might notice the enticing smell of . . . doughnuts. Thanks to the work of two former environmental studies classes; support from Duane Hamilton, director of campus services in facilities services, and a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, BGSU mowers will begin to run on used cooking oil from the dining halls.

The project has been in the works since 2005, when Dr. Enrique Gomezdelcampo’s Environmental Studies 402 class, for its capstone project, prepared an environmental impact statement on “Limiting Emissions from the Campus Maintenance and Small Equipment Fleet.” Last spring’s 402 class concentrated on the use of “Waste Vegetable Oil as Fuel for Campus Lawn Mowers.”

Working alongside the facilities services department, the class researched the feasibility of recycling the vegetable oil produced in the dining halls. “They asked the questions: How much fuel do we need? How would you go about it? How would we filter the oil? The students did all that, and they figured the costs,” Gomezdelcampo said.

With a $50,000 ODNR grant, signed last July, the University can now proceed with the conversion of the first mower and purchase a holding tank and collection drums—which are now supplied by an outside company—along with building a filtration system for the oil.
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Note: Due to the Thanksgiving break, Monitor will not be published next week (Dec. 1). Have a wonderful holiday!