CyRide powers up with vegetable oil

Moriah Morgan

Hour after hour, Iowa State’s CyRide

buses are packed, taking its riders all across Ames. It is not

surprising to be passed by three or four in a 10 minute walk. Here

on campus, though, one bus stands out from all the others, not

because of how it looks, but because of what makes it


After a semester getting settled

into the new facility at the Bio Research Lab, the ISU BioBus club

has come back hard at work producing fuel for CyRide bus No. 18.

Using the Bio Research Lab’s state of the art lab facility, the

club combines a solution of potassium and 10 gallons of methanol

with 40 gallons of used vegetable oil. Last semester, the club

produced a total of 80 gallons of biodiesel from the Union Drive

Marketplace’s used vegetable oil. This semester, they hope to be

producing 40 gallons per month.

Biodiesel fuel is not only locally

made but better for the environment. An average American car puts

300 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from a 15 gallon

tank of gasoline. Biodiesel is naturally cycling. The plants used

to create the vegetable oil take carbon from the air, and thus no

new carbon is released into the air. When we pull fuel from the

ground, it brings with it carbon that would have otherwise never

been in our atmosphere.

So next time you ride the bus, think

about this, you are being powered by the leftovers from last

Friday’s french fries.