Two tribal schools in Wisconsin and New Mexico were recently recognized for winning the second annual Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge, hosted by the Argonne National Laboratory, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The competition challenges students to develop complex renewable energy projects and submit proposals on their ideas in order to receive funding for further research. Ten finalists were chosen in the first round.
Oneida National High School of Wisconsin created biodiesel out of used vegetable oil, which was donated by local businesses. The students isolated the long chains of fatty acid molecules from the glycerin molecules, replacing it with methanol and lye, creating biodiesel.
The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic School of New Mexico also created biodiesel, but from a very different source. The students grew their own algae, collected it using silk screens donated by the school's art department, then let it dry in the sun. Later, they chemically converted the algae into lipids that were ready to be processed as biodiesel.
The Argonne National Laboratory works with the U.S. Department of the Interior to enhance the nation's energy resources through advanced research.