Our home state of Rhode Island, “The Ocean State”, will become the “Under-Ocean State” if we cannot stop global warming, according to a Providence Journal article. Sea levels will rise an average of three to six meters by 2100. Studies show that 839 square kilometers of the New England coastline will be submerged. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from vegetable oils. Most biodiesel is made either from crops, recycled cooking oil, or animal fats. Among them, recycled cooking oil is the most effective resource to make biodiesel since it does not compete with food resources. Biodiesel can be used alone or blended with petro-diesel, which can be used in standard diesel engines or heating oil furnaces without modification. Replacing or blending petro-diesel with biodiesel reduces emissions of major greenhouse gases. According to the MI Oakland County Drain Commissioner, cooking oil is the number one cause of sewer backups. Fats, Oils, and Grease causes 80% of sewer spills in the USA. Our survey showed that 37.4% of our town residents pour WCO down the drain, 61.2% dump it with the garbage, and 1.4% use it as lawn fertilizer. Each household generates an average of 10.84 liters of WCO per year. On a national scale, EPA estimated that over 11.34 billion liters of waste cooking oil are produced each year and only about 10% of the oil gets recycled. In each of the 200 restaurants in a twenty-mile radius of Westerly, an average of 283 liters of WCO is generated per month. This has the potential to produce 45,300 liters of biodiesel each month. Our research led us to the idea of converting waste cooking oil into renewable energy. This became Project TGIF – Turn Grease into Fuel.
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