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Kevin Ellingson

Locksmith/preventive maintenance mechanic

A biodiesel distiller: One of Kevin's job responsibilities includes converting the cafeteria's waste fryer oil into biodiesel fuel so it can be used in Luther's lawn and maintenance vehicles.

Getting around campus: Kevin's job requires him to make several trips across campus each day. The college supplies him with an electric car to make these trips more time and cost efficient.

Thinks "reuse" during renovations: As the campus locksmith, Kevin is responsible for removing all of the door locks from a building destined for renovation. He removes the serial numbers, cores, and pins so they can be reused at another location.

Although it takes some work and know-how to convert the cafeteria's fryer oil into biodiesel fuel, it's definitely worth the effort. "It takes at least eight to 10 hours to make an 80-gallon batch," says Kevin. "But it's a one-to-one conversion. That means we get 80 gallons of biodiesel fuel for every 80-gallon batch of fryer oil."

Luther's lawn and maintenance vehicles use a 50/50 combination of biodiesel and regular diesel fuel. "We would use 100 percent biodiesel if it weren't for the cold winter temperatures here," says Kevin. "Once the temperature hits 32 degrees or below, the biodiesel changes form. That's why we mix it with half regular diesel. We've used this combination in our vehicles for over two years now and we've never had a mechanical failure."

Kevin estimates that Luther used approximately 1,200 gallons of biodiesel last year. "Our biodiesel production costs about $.85/gallon--that's much less than the $3 to $4/per gallon we'd pay for the same amount of regular diesel fuel," says Kevin. "It results in a substantial cost savings."

In addition to the equipment that runs partially on biodiesel, the college owns a handful of vehicles powered by electricity. Kevin uses one of the electric vehicles to get around campus. "I plug it in every night, and it can usually run for two days before it needs another charge," says Kevin. "It's estimated that it costs the college about $.08/day. That's very economical."

He also uses campus renovations to do his part with sustainability. When a building undergoes remodeling, he removes all of the lock sets and cores. Whenever possible, he reuses the locks in another building or recycles the metal.

Kevin likes doing his part with sustainability at Luther, but he's also happy to see that other people on campus are excited about it. "The students, in particular, are very interested in it--especially the production of the biodiesel fuel," says Kevin. "There have been many times when an entire class has watched or helped me with the process. I've also had other organizations call or visit Luther to learn more about it."