The Biodiesel Program at Loyola University produces 2,500 gallons of biodiesel annually. During the reaction that converts waste vegetable oil to biodiesel, which helps to fuel the campus’ shuttle buses, glycerin is produced as a natural byproduct. That means we also produce about 500 gallons of this glycerin annually. We are committed to becoming a zero waste facility and are therefore developing new and exciting ways to turn our byproduct (glycerin) into a product that can be used or sold on campus.
While we have already developed a liquid soap in our lab, we are presently experimenting with bar soap. The bar soap product would drastically decrease our glycerin waste because while liquid soap uses glycerin as an additive, bar soap’s main ingredient is the natural grease-cutting glycerin. This project was started during Spring semester 2008 but was placed on hold with we developed our liquid soap, BioSoap. In the summer of 2010 we revived this project and it has become a primary focus more recently.
The trick is finding the correct ratio between the main ingredients [glycerin, water, and sodium hydroxide (NaOH)] and then using additives to increase hardness, lather, and consistency. While we have had a few successes, many trials have ended up looking more like creamy peanut butter or oatmeal rather than something you would use in the shower. One day soon we hope to package our bar soap and sell it in the university bookstore and provide it on Loyola’s campus as we do presently do with the liquid soap. Why not use a greasy byproduct to create something that washes that grease off your hands?