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York Technical College's Energy Resource Center is turning grease into biodiesel fuel and savings

Rod Trump, director of the Energy Resource Center at York Technical College in Rock Hill, fills a diesel mower with biodiesel fuel Tuesday at the school. York Tech has a processor that converts kitchen grease into biodiesel fuel that the college can use in mowers, tractors and pressure washers.
Rod Trump, director of the Energy Resource Center at York Technical College in Rock Hill, fills a diesel mower with biodiesel fuel Tuesday at the school. York Tech has a processor that converts kitchen grease into biodiesel fuel that the college can use in mowers, tractors and pressure washers.

Inside a storage shed at York Technical College sits a strange-looking machine that could be mistaken for a refrigerator.

But the BioPro 380 is no household appliance.

Pour in a few buckets of kitchen grease, add some other ingredients and, voila, out comes biodiesel fuel that can power almost anything on wheels.

At York Tech, engineering guru Rod Trump is making enough biodiesel to supply the school's lawn mowers, tractors, Bobcats and pressure washers.

Cleaner energy

It's not just a matter of making fuel -- but educating students about an ecofriendly form of energy.

Biodiesel results in fewer unburned hydrocarbons, less carbon monoxide and less of other pollutants compared with petroleum-based diesel fuel.

"We are a throwaway society," said John McGill, a biology professor who manages York Tech's environmental programs. "Our landfills are filling up. We're using up the available land. This is another example of something we can do to be better stewards of resources."

He gets the grease

Trump collects used vegetable oil from cafeterias at York Tech and Winthrop University, as well as concession stands at city parks. This week, he put out a barrel to give York Tech employees a place to dump grease from their fried Thanksgiving turkeys.

"As soon as I sent an e-mail out to everybody on campus, I must've gotten 20 or 30 (responses) saying it's a great idea," said Trump, director of the school's energy resource center. "They didn't know York Tech was doing stuff like that."

The machine mixes the grease with methanol and potassium hydroxide to produce what Trump calls "liquid gold." It could help the school save as much as $10,000 on fuel costs during this year alone.

Said McGill: "We're using things that are waste and turning them into something that's valuable."

$2.45

Cost of a gallon of regular diesel fuel on Tuesday in Rock Hill

80 cents

Cost to produce a gallon of biodiesel

$10,000

Amount York Technical College will save this year by using biodiesel

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