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Aaron Equipment Company Donates Stainless Steel Tank to Biodiesel Classroom Project

April 29, 2012

Rockwood School District to Use Gift to Generate Fuel Alternative from Restaurant Grease Waste

When Aaron Equipment Company recently learned that an environmentally conscious Missouri classroom project was in jeopardy without a heat-proof mix tank, a company executive stepped up to the plate and offered to donate a 200-gallon stainless steel cone-bottom tank from its used, unused and reconditioned process equipment inventory. The gift will allow Rockwood School District’s organic chemistry students to not only enter an upcoming engineering competition but eventually be able to sell their biodiesel one day.

Connecticut’s Bio Fuel Info site estimates that three billion gallons of waste grease are generated nationally every year by restaurants. Then, “whenever the oil is periodically changed the used oil becomes a waste product and is either disposed of as hazardous waste or rendered into yellow grease to make cosmetics or pet foods.” A much more eco-friendly use of it, however, is the generation of biodiesel fuel, which according to FuelEconomy.gov is “safe, biodegradable, and produces less air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel.” That end product is precisely what Rockwood’s organic chemistry students have been setting out to produce with the grease.

The teacher spearheading that project, Darrin Peters, explains, “This project started four years ago. The first year, the students struggled to make a product that they were proud of, but by the end of the semester, some of the students had made biodiesel fuel that passed federal fuel ASTM standards.” Spurred by that success, the students began clamoring to take the experiment on a grander scale. In response, Peters started developing lesson plans that incorporated the biodiesel project into his organic chemistry curriculum. Just one issue stood in their way: a large enough processor to generate the biodiesel.

“A member of our community responded by donating an explosion-proof processor with stainless steel piping that a local plumbing company updated. That vessel doubled the capacity of what we were working with.” But a problem still remained: the plastic mix tank. “Processors with plastic mix tanks are dangerous because they eventually melt under the heat required to process biodiesel,” Peters points out. And the stainless steel cone-bottom tank the classroom project required was simply unaffordable.

Without one, the engineering competition Peters’ students had their hearts set on entering was out of the question. That’s when Aaron Equipment Company stepped in. Aaron got Peters on the phone and offered to donate the 200-gallon stainless steel cone-bottom tank the organic chemistry students desperately needed to move forward. “The stainless steel tank is perfect for our needs,” says Peters. “It has port openings where the students can attach sensors, it doesn’t leak, it won’t melt, and we can use it to double our fuel capacity.”

Peters is quick to praise the generosity. “Aaron Equipment went way beyond the call of duty on this donation. The cone-bottom tank is perfect for our project. We did not pay anything for it. It was even delivered to our school free of charge. When they called me to let me know that this would be happening, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. It was unbelievable to me the generosity and kindness displayed by some individuals and organizations in donating a piece of equipment worth thousands of dollars to people who will never be able to repay them.”

To see all the used tanks Aaron Equipment Company offers, including stainless steel options like the one it donated to Rockwood School District, view Aaron’s used tank inventory. For more information on how the company’s machinery aids in eco-friendly biodiesel efforts, contact Michael Cohen at (630) 350-2200.