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2013 Update – The biodiesel program was closed in Fall 2013 for 2-3 years to allow for construction to begin on the VU Power Plant All-Natural Gas Conversion. The Vanderbilt School of Engineering and the AEC will continue to make biodiesel on a laboratory scale for educational purposes.

The Alternative Energy Club (AEC) at Vanderbilt University is a student-led, university-wide initiative that seeks to educate students about diverse alternative energy resources (including biodiesel, wind, and solar power) and provide career enhancement opportunities. Formerly known as the Vanderbilt Biodiesel Initiative, the AEC builds upon the foundations of an already well-established organization by expanding VBI’s portfolio. Participation in the AEC provides all members with the unique opportunity to not only learn about renewable energy, but to also gain invaluable hands-on experience.

The AEC operated a self-sufficient, sustainable, student-run biodiesel production system that converted local waste vegetable oil from campus dining facilities into environmentally responsible biodiesel fuel to be used in any diesel-fueled engine. The fuel is was used to power vehicles such as plant operations trucks and landscaping machinery. The goal of biodiesel is to curb the consumption of petroleum-based fuel by the Vanderbilt community with a system that is economically and environmentally sustainable. Also, the initiative aimed to educate others about the viability of biodiesel as an effective alternative fuel.

Watch a tour of the biodiesel production facility:

Visit AEC’s website to learn more!

Check out this video from Cooking Up a Story and the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program about the production of biodiesel in Vermont.  Roger Rainville is reducing costs on his farm by producing biodiesel for about $1.70 a gallon.