Researchers Devise New Way to Convert Waste Cooking Oil into Biodiesel

Running vehicles without the use of fossil fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, is an extremely challenging task. Biodiesel that is extracted from fats and natural oils is a potential alternative to these fossil fuels, but the high cost is its major drawback.

In ACS’ Energy & Fuels journal, scientists have described a new technique for biodiesel production from waste cooking oil. The process involves the use of microwave irradiation and SiO2 beads that are covered with SrO nanoparticles. This process is affordable, and mainly focuses on converting used cooking oil into useful biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a biodegradable and renewable source of energy. It also emits less CO2 as compared to other traditional fuels. Biodiesel can be reliably used as a replacement for conventional diesel, without demanding modification of car engines. Biodiesel seems to be more advantageous over other fuels. However, economical production of biodiesel remains a challenge. ACS scientist Aharon Gedanken and his colleagues have spotted waste cooking oil as an appealing source for biodiesel production. They are currently working on finding a simpler and less expensive conversion process.

The process involves creating catalyst-coated silica beads and mixing them with the used cooking oil. The mixture is then zapped and placed in a modified microwave oven to initiate the reaction between the oil and beads. It took only 10 seconds for the conversion of almost 100% of the oil into fuel. The beads can be easily recovered and reused. The researchers reused the beads for at least 10 times and also obtained good results each time.

The Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space has provided funding to the research work.

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