Clemson University produces its own biodiesel to fuel the diesel trucks within University Facilities's fleet of vehicles on campus. The Clemson Sustainable Biofuels Pilot Plant creates this biodiesel from the cooking oil waste generated on campus. Biodiesel production is led by Terry Walker, Ph.D, professor of Biosystems Engineering and is overseen by Clemson Recycling Services.
Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources such as plant oils, animal fats, used cooking oil, and even sources such as algae. It contains no petroleum, but can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. The blends can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
Biodiesel reduces lifecycle carbon emissions by 60 to 80%, depending on the source, making it the best carbon reduction tool of any liquid fuel commercially available. It has the highest energy balance of any fuel, returning 4.5 units of energy for every unit of fossil energy needed to produce it. New cropland is not needed to make biodiesel because it is generally produced from co-products of crops already being grown. From 2004 to 2008, biodiesel production in the United States climbed from 25 million to 700 million gallons.