All it takes is a few bushels, and students create biodiesel fuel from soybeans. The locally grown crop powered a road trip from Kentucky to Alabama, promoting the use of alternative energy along the way.
The students, part of Whites Creek High School’s Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability and Logistics, are using the newest technology to produce biodiesel fuel from locally grown soybeans.
“We are getting about a gallon of biodiesel fuel to a bushel of soybeans,” said their teacher, Dr. Garry Gibson.
Twelve gallons of biodiesel fuel created at their school’s lab were used for the trip across the state, led by a Ford F-250 farm truck.
The students use a machine that turns the soybeans — donated by the Future Farmers of America — into oil, with a byproduct of soybean mill used to feed cattle. The oil is then bonded with methanol and converted into a biodiesel fuel through a processor.
Fuels are tested in go-carts before being put into action on the road.
“I believe we are taking things to a higher level because these kids are applying what they’ve learned and teach other students about alternative energy,” Gibson said. “As far as I know, this is the only high school in the nation with a career pathway for alternative energy.”
Davidson Sanchez, a sophomore, said the students also make ethanol from grapes, bananas, apples and sugar beets.
“It’s fun making it and watching our hard work succeed,” he said. “We’re on this trip to let people know about the other types of energy available instead of having to rely on the fossil fuels that are bad for the environment.”
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