June 10, 2012

Categories: Sustainability,

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The Sustainability Workshop, sponsored by the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) and located at Quarters A at The Navy Yard, is a place for students to come together to learn and solve “real world” problems around sustainability and energy efficiency.  Throughout its inaugural year, students formed groups to work on a variety of projects. One of those projects focused on creating cost effective biodiesel fuel that could be used in automobiles. 

The group first tried a method using algae, then coffee grounds.  These methods were found to be too costly or inefficient.  Determined, the students reached out to Urban Outfitters, which has its corporate headquarters at The Navy Yard and also operates a full-service cafeteria at for its employees and the general public.  The staff of Urban provided the student team with approximately ten gallons of used vegetable oil from the cafeteria, Shop 543.  In order to make the oil suitable for a car engine, the students filtered the used oil to remove food particles, heated the oil to remove moisture, and lastly, performed a biodiesel titration (a laboratory method used to determine an unknown solution concentration).  The finished product, which took about eight weeks to complete, was tested in the Sustainability Workshop’s co-founder and teacher Simon Haugh’s converted Jetta and deemed a success!

On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, PIDC manages the master planning and development of The Navy Yard, encompassing 1,200 acres including a Clean Energy Campus.  The goal of The Clean Energy Campus is to establish The Navy Yard and Philadelphia as a national center for research, education, and commercialization of energy related technologies.  PIDC is proud to lease building Quarters A to the Sustainability Workshop and support the next generation of talent. 

PIDC congratulates all of the groups in the Inaugural Sustainability Workshop Class of 2012! For more information on the Sustainability Workshop, please visit

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