CLEMSON, SC — The biodiesel program at Clemson University has been named Energy Project of the Year by the Association of South Carolina Energy Managers.

The university’s biodiesel initiative converts diesel-powered vehicles to use more biodiesel made from cooking oil collected from dining halls and local businesses. Today, some landscaping and utility service vehicles and equipment use B20 biodiesel, but the goal is to shift these units to B100. 

Used cooking oil is taken to the BioEnergy Lab in McAdams Hall, where students work with instructors and staff to convert the cooking oil into fuel. This work is conducted in a facility fully powered by renewable energy.

“With innovative research on emerging alternative fuel sources and the continuing support of the Clemson facilities staff, our percentage of renewable fuel consumed will continue to increase, improving Clemson's environment and establishing Clemson University as a leader in renewable fuels research and implementation,” said David Thornton, research associate for the biosystems engineering program.

Vehicles need no modifications to use the biodiesel fuel, which is distributed from a 1,000-gallon tank at the university lumberyard. The program has the potential to save $8,000 to $9,000 a year and keep 70,000 pounds of carbon from reaching the atmosphere, according to the university.

The biodiesel program is part of a larger sustainability initiative at Clemson.