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Waste grease doesn’t go to waste

Grease_Vat_Kerr_0092_InHouse.jpgUNT Dining Services is putting its dining hall wastes to good use.

Four dining halls now have commercial vats that vacuum grease waste and convert it into biodiesel fuel, providing several benefits.

Ken Botts, Dining Services“Dining Services is always looking for ways to decrease our carbon footprint and help create renewable resources that not only benefit UNT but the environment and this does both,” said Ken Botts, right, manager of special projects.

UNT received dining vats from the company, American BioSource, for each of the four dining halls, except for the all-vegan Mean Greens, which does not produce waste grease.

The cooking oil is taken out of fryers through a self-contained vacuum unit to prevent spillage, and the oil is then transported to the collection unit where it is reverse siphoned into the vat.

Above, Steve Brice with the grease recycling system in Kerr Hall.

Once a week, American BioSource trucks collect waste from the vat and measure the quantity using a USB drive attached to a computer on the vat. The company then takes the grease and converts it into biodiesel fuel.

Dining Services has collected from 130 to 150 gallons per week from the dining halls. The expected return on the oil is about .06 cents per gallon. UNT will use the money to improve student dining operations.

“Dining Services reinvests the money to keep meal plans costs low, improve the quality of the food and the cafeterias,” Botts said. “It is a win for the environment, for the community, the campus and most importantly, the students.”

Mean Greens

Mean Greens doesn’t participate in the greast collection project because it doesn’t produce waste grease, but it  donated some of its waste for another sustainability project last fall.

Clarissa Redwine, a senior general studies major, collected peelings and unused raw fruit and veggies for compost that was used to make an organic “tape” that gardeners can use to grow crops by simply rolling out the tape and covering it with soil.

Each week, she ground and dried waste into puree, then poured it into a dehydrated tray. She popped a seed in each hole, testing each seed because each seed germinates differently and could die if the timing is wrong.

Redwine drew up a business plan and called the project White Bison Seed Company’s Live Seed Tape. She and her project were one of five finalists in the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship’s Spring 2012 Idea Competition, in which students pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. She also participated in the New Venture Creation Contest, which funds students' entrepreneurial business plans. She has put the project on hold as she reevaluates it.

“Mean Greens was beyond helpful,” Redwine said. “Ken Botts and Chef Wanda White not only supported my work, but were true instigators, getting the project off the ground. Their rapid implementation of White Bison operations really helped kick start the project and gave me the volume I needed to create solid prototypes. I can’t thank them enough.”

- Jessica DeLeón, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

(Photo by Michael Clements)

Posted on: Tue 29 January 2013