Drake draws attention to Penn State's commitment to renewable fuels

University Park, Pa. -- When hip hop artist Drake brought "The Far Away from Home Tour" to Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center on April 9, college students got to take part in more than a party. They also participated in several events designed to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote sustainability.

As part of the Reverb Campus Consciousness Tour, the artist's tour buses and trucks were refueled with ASTM-certified B20 biodiesel fuel (20 percent biodiesel) in a one-hour renewable fueling event. Penn State was chosen as the first stop of Drake's national tour because of the University's pioneering work with biofuels.

The renewable fuel event was one of several activities Reverb organized to educate and engage students to take action toward a more sustainable future. Sponsored by AMERIgreen oil/alternative energy suppliers and Snedecker Oil of Lewistown, Pa., in cooperation with Penn State's Office of Campus Sustainability, the Campus Consciousness Tour also included information on the carbon offsets established for all transportation aspects of the tour, recycling and composting stations, biodegradable catering supplies, eco-friendly cleaning supplies and local organic catering.

Glen Cauffman, manager of farm operations for Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, said he was contacted by AMERIgreen to participate in the refueling because of Penn State's national reputation in promoting biodiesel.

"The college began using biodiesel in 2002 and has had big success in demonstrating to the rest of the University that biodiesel is safe and good for the environment and for engines," Cauffman said. "I'm honored that the college is recognized as a leader in finding renewable alternatives to petroleum."

All of the college's equipment uses a blend of biodiesel and petroleum. The University uses B-20 biodiesel in all trucks and campus equipment, and Penn State recycles used cooking oil from its dining halls to make its own biodiesel fuel.

Mark McGaha of AMERIgreen said other colleges and universities also are moving into developing and using biofuels, but it's still a fairly recent endeavor for some.

"In my mind, there's no one out in the forefront like Penn State is," McGaha said. "Whenever AMERIgreen needs more technical information, the first people we reach out to are at Penn State. We're thankful to be able to work with such a well-respected University that brings a wealth of knowledge, information and research to the table."

Elliott May, strategic partnerships manager of Reverb and manager of the tour, said he was impressed with the ways that Penn State is bridging the gap to get students involved in the renewable-fuel conversation.

"Penn State has a huge focus on environmental sustainability that runs the gamut from the agricultural programs on campus to doing a lot of things with recycling and other components," he said. "It seems there's a strong desire on this campus to be as green as possible.

"More schools have wanted to get this tour to come to campus," May added. "My own training is in waste vegetable oil and biodiesel, so those schools that are advancing the conversation are on my radar, and I've known that Penn State has had some amazing biofuel developments."

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Last Updated May 18, 2012