Using Waste Cooking Oil for Biodiesel - Chromatography Explores
Aug 01 2020
It is widely known that burning fossil fuels for energy is not sustainable. Not only are the resources slowly running out, but the damage to the environment from extraction and use, the effect on climate and the pollution effects of burning coal, oil and gas are forever changing the planet we live on. Possibly making it uninhabitable. Alternatives are needed to sustain live on Earth.
As progress is made on alternative energy sources like solar, wind and tidal researchers are investigating methods to mitigate the use of cleaner fuels. One fuel that has come under consideration are biofuels. Diesel plays a vital role in the economy and development of African countries, and like the rest of the planet, the continent is seeking out sources of clean fuel. A recent paper published in the Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management reports on research in Nigeria aimed at producing biodiesel from a cheap and plentiful feedstock – used cooking oil.
Biofuel – a good alternative
Biodiesel is a form of diesel that is derived from plants or animals and is made from long-chain fatty acids. Biodiesel is classed as a ‘drop-in’ fuel in that it can be used in place of diesel without any modifications to the diesel engine. It can also be blended with normal diesel. Biodiesel is one of the promising sources of alternative fuels that could be used as a substitute for fossil fuels. Biodiesel has a cleaner environmental emission profile than standard diesel too.
In developing countries in Africa, the use of sustainable and domestic sources of fuel allows a pathway towards fuel security. And if the fuel is more environmentally friendly it helps the countries to meet stricter global emission targets. But the increased use of biodiesel could cause problems in the supply of vegetable oils for other purposes, including ta scarcity of vegetable oils for use as a cooking oil. This in turn could lead to price increases meaning poorer families have even less access to affordable foods.
Degummed oil as biofuel
Researchers in Nigeria have been investigating the use of degummed waste cooking oil as a biodiesel fuel. In the paper Effects of Degumming Waste Cooking Oil on the Physicochemical and Fuel Properties of Biodiesel, the authors used various analytical techniques including gas chromatography to investigate the chemical, physical and fuel properties of degummed cooking oil. Developments in chromatography are the topic of the article, The Theory and Advantages of Solid-Core Particles.
Degumming is simply a way of removing impurities from oils, in this case cleaning up the waste cooking oils to improve their physical and chemical properties for use as biodiesel. The team found that the degumming and bleaching methods used produced a degummed oil that could be used as biodiesel. Chromatography helping to bring fuel security.
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