Making biodiesel from dirty old cooking oil just got way easier

Making biodiesel from dirty old cooking oil just got way easier

by RMIT University (formerly known as Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Melbourne Technical College).

SPONGE-like catalysts could transform biodiesel production and chemical manufacturing.

Researchers have developed a powerful, low-cost method for recycling used cooking oil and agricultural waste into biodiesel, and turning food scraps and plastic rubbish into high-value products.

The method harnesses a new type of ultra-efficient catalyst that can make low-carbon biodiesel and other valuable complex molecules out of diverse, impure raw materials.

Waste cooking oil currently has to go through an energy-intensive cleaning process to be used in biodiesel, because commercial production methods can only handle pure feedstocks with 1-2% contaminants.

The new catalyst is so tough it can make biodiesel from low-grade ingredients, known as feedstock, containing up to 50% contaminants.

It is so efficient it could double the productivity of manufacturing processes for transforming rubbish like food scraps, microplastics and old tyres into high-value chemical precursors used to make anything from medicines and fertilisers to biodegradable packaging.

The catalyst design is reported in a new study from an international collaboration led by RMIT University, published in Nature Catalysis.