Shrewsbury students create used cooking oil recycling scheme

Shrewsbury students create used cooking oil recycling scheme
Shrewsbury students create used cooking oil recycling scheme
Jacob Furman and Nicole Sehn pictured with a bottle of cooking oil outside Shrewsbury High School. (Photo/Caroline Gordon)

SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury High School seniors Nicole Shen and Jacob Furman are on a mission to recycle used cooking oil.

Their idea started as a civic action project for the school, but the couple decided to contact Water and Sewer Superintendent Daniel Rowley to help put their plan into action. Shen and Jacobs presented their research on the benefits of recycling used cooking oil to the Select Board on September 27.

Over the summer, Rowley said he worked with Shen and Furman and Assistant Superintendent of Water and Sewer Operations Joseph Kenney to figure out the best recycling methods.

According to Shen, cooking oil harms the environment and the sewage system. She said the two ways to get rid of it include spilling the oil outdoors, which attracts animals and vermin and impacting the ecosystem, and spilling the oil down the drain. , which causes sewer clogs, reduces the efficiency of treatment plants and harms aquatic life.

Some residents use external grease traps, which allow some of the oil to drain into the sewer system, Shen said. She noted that most residents dump oil from grease traps in landfills, which harms the environment.

Through their research, Furman said they realized that used cooking oil could be “transferred into something better” and used as energy. There are companies that collect used cooking oil for free and put it through a process called transesterification, which converts the oil into biodiesel and glycerin, he said.

Furman said biodiesel can be used for engines, furnaces and “any diesel use you might have.” He noted that biodiesel is non-toxic, biodegradable, burns cleanly and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 86%.

The couple decided to partner with Mahoney Environmental, a company that collects used cooking oil and transesterifies it. According to Shen, the company serves about 5,000 New England restaurants.

. students Shrewsbury create program recycling used cooking oils

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