October 8, Rockwood Summit High School officials filled up a district school bus with biodiesel produced by students in the MECSS (Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions), a building located among the athletic field behind the school.
"This is a huge moment for us," said Rockwood Summit chemistry teacher Darrin Peters. "We're able to produce 50 percent biodiesel and 50 percent petroleum fuel that meets or exceeds federal standards for biodiesel."
The bus, along with some catering trucks at Washington University in St. Louis, has a gas tank which allows it to utilize the 50-50 biodiesel-petroleum blend. Rockwood Summit is entering into a partnership with Washington University.
"We're going to collect kitchen grease from campus, turn it into biodiesel, and sell it back to them. They will use that in three catering trucks on campus."
In a class titled Authentic Science Research, Summit senior Raegan Calvert said, "I've learned how beneficial biodiesel is and how important it is that we take advantage of this very, very green and friendly fuel source."
Junior Cory Meyer added, "I find it interesting that I can do that here in high school."
Peters said fueling the school bus helps demonstrate that the fuel blend is commercially viable and that there are alternatives to petroleum.
He addressed the topic of fuel efficiency.
"It's almost a 1-to-1 ratio as far as performance is concerned," he said. "The problem with biodiesel blends is in winter time - it gels at higher temperatures than petroleum. We were very careful with that, and we have procedures in place that should allow this to go through without a problem."
Peters also said Rockwood Summit officials are ready to make the MECSS available for field trips. He suggested it would be an appropriate destination for students in grades six and up.
"Students will learn how agriculture can be used for renewable fuels," said Peters. "They can learn how to test the fuel. They can learn how we use the byproduct of this process to make different types of soap and scents. We have a curriculum that's compatible with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)."
In another partnership with Ranken Technical College, Peters said a Rockwood Summit representative would be part of an educational trailer, similar to the MECSS, on location at the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show, Oct. 13-14.
"It is similar and has the same curriculum as the building on our campus, only it can be transported to other educational venues wherever somebody would like to use it."
Rockwood Summit students in Authentic Science Research class learn how to make biodiesel in the Monsanto Education
Center for Sustainable Solutions. Chemistry teacher Darrin Peters fills a school bus with the special 50-50 biodiesel-