Arizona high school students take part in biodiesel project

By Arizona Charter Academy | February 20, 2015

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a high school math and science teacher from Arizona Charter Academy and a group of enthusiastic high school students, a diesel bus will soon driving down the road, powered by biodiesel fuel that the students created.

In addition to teaching math and science, Kris Schmidt is the STEM club coordinator at ACA and the team leader for the biodiesel project. Last summer, Schmidt attended a teaching workshop at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado.

“While I was there, I learned all about renewable energy and alternative fuels,” Schmidt said. “I also met other teachers that have started their own biodiesel projects, and I wanted to try and bring it to my school.”

Schmidt got busy creating a timeline for the biodiesel project as well as how the process would unfold. For example, the STEM-focused activity will serve two purposes as a science and community outreach project, and all high schoolers will have the chance to take part in the project.

By this April, the high school students from ACA will produce their first 80-gallon batch of biodiesel fuel, which will be utilized by diesel vehicles. By May, the school will obtain a diesel bus, which will run on the fuel the students created. In order to get raw materials to create the fuel, students have been busy contacting local businesses to see if they can donate their used fryer oil to the school. 

Schmidt said ACA will also create and implement a continual and sustainable biodiesel creation process that can be run by more groups of students over time. This means it can be handed off from class to class, and ACA will continue to produce a useable form of alternative fuel.

Schmidt said that biodiesel project is going extremely well so far, and that the high school students are looking forward to watching the ACA bus hit the road, fueled by their ecofriendly biodiesel.

“The kids are very excited, not only for the hands-on opportunity to build and create something of this magnitude, but also we are sparking a lot of interest in the use of alternative fuels and reducing our environmental impact,” Schmidt said.


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