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September 23, 2018

Sustainable maple syrup produced by Pulaski’s Science Club


The Pulaski High School Science Club is producing what they call “sustainable maple syrup.”

In January, students in the club and advisers Carl Nylen, Tom Pullen and Jamie Hefti talked about producing maple syrup that they could sell to help fund some of the club’s projects for the coming year.

Michael Visco tests the sugar content of the latest batch of maple syrup before proceeding to bottle the product.

Michael Visco tests the sugar content of the latest batch of maple syrup before proceeding to bottle the product.

But they didn’t want to simply produce maple syrup the old fashioned way.

Instead, they decided to put a science club spin on their project.

The students designed and built an evaporator, but not an ordinary system – they built an evaporator that would be fueled by biodiesel.

The students have their own biodiesel production unit that takes used vegetable oil and generates a clean burning, renewable resource fuel.

By using the biodiesel to fuel their evaporator, they operate their production with a sustainable fuel source and at little to no cost to the club.

The students also researched maple syrup production and learned that many of the larger producers utilize a technology called “reverse osmosis” that takes a large amount of water out of the syrup before the evaporation process begins.

Reverse osmosis systems are very expensive, but the innovative students did not let that stop them, instead they created their own small-scale system using little more than scrap material, again at little to no cost.

The result was a highly efficient system that greatly increased the production rate of the “sustainable” maple syrup.

Members of the Pulaski High School Science Club are pictured with their biodiesel fueled evaporator system where they produced “sustainable” maple syrup. From left are: Alex Pettingill, Cedric Barth, Matt McGill, Michael Visco, Larissa Clark, Tom Pullen, Jamie Hefti and Carl Nylen

Members of the Pulaski High School Science Club are pictured with their biodiesel fueled evaporator system where they produced “sustainable” maple syrup. From left are: Alex Pettingill, Cedric Barth, Matt McGill, Michael Visco, Larissa Clark, Tom Pullen, Jamie Hefti and Carl Nylen

The maple syrup is made using 75% less energy than conventional syrup production and utilizes carbon neutral fuels.

The students and advisers tapped approximately 200 trees to gather the sap for their maple syrup which produced about 25 gallons of “sustainable” syrup, the majority of which was presold.

The students also made maple candy that they sold to fellow students and staff members at the school.

For more information about the project or PACS Science Club, contact the advisers at the high school at 298-5103.

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