With barely any background in chemistry, a University of Windsor nursing grad and her business partner spent the last two months experimenting with animal fat and vegetable oil in hopes of creating a greener city.
Lois Li, a Windsorite in her second year of law school at Windsor and Detroit Mercy universities has been collaborating with her partner Joshua Rammage, a business graduate from Wayne state who is in the banking sector in Michigan, are preparing to launch a new company called Domestic Diesel Ltd – a company that supplies biodiesel fuel.
The duo spent the last two months trying to convert animal and vegetable fat into biodiesel fuel in their makeshift lab, a 500 sq ft space on a Michigan farm.
It seems unlikely, with both their backgrounds completely unrelated to chemistry, but Li says it was an idea born out of her interest in environmental issues paired with their desire to create jobs in the city.
“The reason I went into nursing is because I enjoy helping people, and I believe that using biodiesel, especially with a how much traffic there is, we see the city of Windsor being a whole other city using biodiesel instead or in substitution of diesel could really make a difference in the local environment,” she says. “Helping one individual at a time is fantastic, which I enjoy doing, but making a difference on a larger scale, such as in biodiesel, would really make a bigger difference.”
Li says the entire process that goes into creating biodiesel fuel is surprisingly simple. They’ve already received a positive result from their first testing.
It took them hours and hours to create the first batch, but Li says it was well worth it.
“We wanted to make sure very single detail was polished,” she says. “We knew we could do it, but actually seeing it on paper is more or less validation that we actually successful batch. Hard to put a word on it, but definitely proud of ourselves that we can actually make a difference.”
The pair received a summer program grant from the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Centre, and also received assistance from the Centre for Enterprise and Law at the University of Windsor and the WEtech Alliance.
Now that they’re making headway, the pair is on the hunt for a permanent facility in Windsor and hopes to go into full-scale production by next year.
“Our goal is to produce 500,000 L for next year and gradually with incremental increases we hope to reach one million litres a year, and from that point on,” says Li.