Biodiesel production takes off at Cheltenham College

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Independent school Cheltenham College is reaping the environmental and financial rewards of onsite biodiesel production.

For the past 12 months pupils have been using a Fuel Pod to convert waste cooking oil from the school kitchens into fuel for estate vehicles. During that time, around 1,000 litres – worth approximately £1,200 – has been produced.

A 50 litre batch is generated on average every other week. It costs 20p per litre to produce and students sell it to the school for a nominal 70p per litre, putting the profits towards the College Rainforest Fund. The aim is to raise enough money to purchase a 50 acre area of rainforest, further offsetting the school’s carbon footprint.

Teacher Dominic Faulkner believes onsite biodiesel production is a particularly attractive proposition for boarding schools, due to the surplus of waste cooking oil and availability of staff and pupils to oversee the process. 

“Producing a 50 litre batch is an eight hour process, requiring about one hour of hands-on time,” Faulkner said. “We are still well within the 2,000 litre tax-free production limit, so we plan to scale-up activity over the coming academic year. As well as the financial and environmental benefits, it is incredibly convenient being able to fill up vehicles on site.”

A spokesman from GreenFuels, who manufactures the FuelPod, said: “We have seen a surge in interest from schools, colleges and universities over recent months. Many have been considering biodiesel production as a means to enhance green credentials for some time, but fuel price hikes have helped to push it up the agenda.”

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