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Teens Recycle Cooking Oil to Power School Bus

With climate change on the agenda, many companies are looking for alternative fuel options that don’t harm the environment. The high levels of CO2 that traditional fuels emit into the atmosphere are among the biggest villains in the fight against global warming. With this in mind, a group of teenagers in Brazil created a biofuel that reuses cooking oil to fuel vehicles.

Five girls from a public school in the interior of Paraná in southern Brazil got together to create an eco-friendly and accessible alternative to take them to school. With used oil—that’s right, the one your parents use to cook—Eduarda Pietra, Fabiane Hikari, Letícia Ayuimi, Eduarda Miura, and Luiza Alves created a biofuel capable of keeping their school bus running for an entire week.

After learning more about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations, their school director gave them a challenge to work on. Using one of the 17 sustainable goals, the group would have to develop an innovative solution that could help the planet.

Focusing on the “recycle” goal, the girls decided to develop a project that would give a new purpose to old cooking oil. Starting from the knowledge that cooking oil can be recycled into soap, they thought about changing the product to something everyone in their school could take advantage of.

With the help of their high school teacher, the five girls founded a junior startup called BIOSUN. Their company mission was to combine the SDG goals of sustainable cities with quality education. To their surprise, the idea was embraced and they got first place in the competition. The school even offered the use of the school’s labs to help the group produce more biofuel and keep the project running.

It seemed like a dream come true already, but then they had a chance to see their project come alive. During the traditional Labor Day parade in their hometown, a school bus powered by the cooking oil biofuel they had made drove the route and kept on running for a week. 

For Matheus Souza, the high school teacher who helped them with the project, the goal now is to make a green line for all the school buses in their high school. 

“This way, the student will come to the school with the bus supplied by the school itself,” he says.