Amidst environmental conservation initiatives world over, a new method for recycling used cooking oil is a step forward in this direction. A low-cost method developed by researchers for recycling used cooking oil and agricultural waste into biodiesel, and converting plastic rubbish and food scraps into useful products.
The method involves harnessing a new type of catalyst which is ultra-efficient. The catalyst can generate low-carbon biodiesel and other useful complex molecules out of varied, impure raw materials. Currently, waste cooking oil undergoes an energy-intensive purification process to be used in biodiesel. This is because commercial production methods require pure feedstocks with only 1- 2% contaminants.
Meanwhile, the new catalyst is remarkably tough. It can make biodiesel from low-grade ingredients that contain as much as 50% contaminants.
Efficiency of Catalyst doubles productivity
In fact, the catalyst is so efficient that it can double the productivity of manufacturing processes for converting rubbish like food scraps, old tires, and microplastics into valuable chemical precursors. These chemical precursors are used to make from fertilizers and medicines to biodegradable packaging.
The catalyst design is covered in a new study published in Nature Catalysis.
“Conventional catalyst technique depend on high purity feedstock and require expensive engineering solutions to make up for their poor efficiency,” said the co-lead researcher of the study.
In fact, complex molecules are the basis to maintain the quality of modern life such as nutritious food and clean water. And, for such needs, currently these molecules are produced through unsustainable chemical processes that degrade the environment, soil, and waterways.
On the other hand, the new catalyst can help obtain the full value of resources that commonly go for waste.