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   Home » Laboratory News » Chemists Produce Biofuel from Used Cooking Oil
 
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Chemists Produce Biofuel from Used Cooking Oil

The cafeterias at the Catering School on the Leioa campus of the Univ. of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) use liters upon liters of oil for cooking. Currently a truck takes away all the waste. However, a number of chemistry faculty lecturers have demonstrated that this oil can be used and revalued at the university itself, having managed to produce biodiesel from the used oil. 

"We have shown that it can be done on a small scale, that biodiesel can be obtained from this oil in a simple manner,” says lecturer Eneritz Anakabe. 

This initiative involves three lecturers in chemistry from the UPV/EHU, one from the School of Engineers in Bilbao and a number of collaborators. Their research project is called Transesterification. Biodiesels, is financed by the UNESCO Catedra for the Sustainable Development and Environmental Education of the UPV/EHU, and is to last for two years – until 2011. Obviously, to produce large quantities of biodiesel, another type of installation will be required, but what can be produced in the laboratories of the Faculty of Science and Technology is sufficient for the lawn mowers, heating and official cars of the UPV/EHU. 

Without greenhouse effect 
In order to obtain biodiesel from oil, a transesterification reaction is necessary. The lecturers mentioned have gathered together the literature on various experimental techniques that enable this reaction and have carried out trials until they found the cheapest, most rapid and, in their view, the most appropriate. Not more than an hour is needed to undertake this transformation. Moreover, they have compared their results with commercial biodiesel fuels (taking advantage of the fact that their properties and quantities are known), showing that the product created can be used at the university. 

"From the perspective of gases emitted due to the greenhouse effect, these —the biodiesel fuels— are much more profitable than the others and are much cleaner. Diesels are fossil fuels and so induce the greenhouse effect. These fried oils, on the other hand, do not," says Fernando Mijangos, leader of the project. 

What is more, if the technique with which they have experimented were to be implemented throughout the university, it would not only result in a zero greenhouse effect, but would also "clean up" the environment: 

"Instead of dumping the waste down the sink, we offer a cleaner solution. This is its greatest advantage," Mijangos says. 

Container for oil waste collection 
In the months remaining until the project terminates, this group of chemists will focus mainly on two aspects: on the one hand, the optimization of the product obtained and, on the other, social awareness. 

Source: Elhuyar Fundazioa

 
 
 
 
 
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