Two Appalachian State University students have won second place at an international competition for their creative, sustainable biofuel project.
Ali Moxley and Kelsey Simon pitched an idea to have corn chip factories use cooking oil left over from manufacturing to fuel trucks that transport packaged chips.
The two defended their idea at the Global Food Solutions Challenge sponsored by Net Impact, a non-profit that fosters entrepreneurship in sustainable business.
As a team, they were trying to find ways for chip manufacturers to cut carbon emissions. Moxley said she was inspired by thinking about the waste that chips generate.
"We wanted to take a cradle to cradle approach to this," Moxley said, "which means resources that might typically be viewed as waste are up-cycled and reused again and again until they no longer have any use."
A major waste output for corn chip manufacturers have is cooking oil that they use to fry chips in. The two came up with the idea to have companies convert that waste to biodiesel that would fuel a later part of the business cycle -- shipping the finished product.
Moxley and Simon are both receiving minors in sustainable business at Appalachian State University.
"Business is a really important part of sustainability, and people can sometimes forget that it can be a voice in itself," Simon said.
Moxley said that shared background, and Simon's major in chemistry, helped them develop their pitch. And they had input from their professors.
"I didn't know that much about biofuel, so I didn't know if it was going to be viable with the type of oil that they use, but after talking to a biofuels professor, he made it sound like it was a good fit," Moxley said.
The two won a $1,000 prize for their student chapter of Net Impact, of which Simon is president. Both students are seniors.