Some entrepreneurial college students are learning first-hand how to build a successful, environmentally sustainable business.

Students at Loyola University-Chicago created their own biodiesel lab, where they convert local waste oil into usable energy. Gil Botham is a recent graduate.

Botham: “We get the oil from the community and the University itself. We get it from the dining halls on campus. We also get it from local community vendors like a vegetarian-vegan restaurant down the street.”

Botham explains that 350 gallons of waste oil produces about 300 gallons of usable biodiesel.

Botham: “Once we get the finished product, we sell it to the contractor who runs the shuttle buses for Loyola. We also sell it to community members.”

But the impact of the program goes far beyond producing biodiesel; it has a lasting effect on the students. The program is managed by undergrads, and is overseen by a faculty advisor – a former student employee who loved the work so much, he decided to stay.

For Botham, the biodiesel program has proven that the concepts he’s learned in the classroom can be applied successfully in the real world.

Botham: “I see that it works. It’s crazy to me that it can work.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Aren Zolninger.
Photo source: Loyola Institute website

More Resources
Loyola Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Bridgett Ennis

Bridgett Ennis is co-founder of ChavoBart Digital Media (CBDM), an audio and video production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. CBDM contributes original reporting, audio production,...