Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Team of chemists produces biodiesel at their university, using used cooking oil as a basis

18.10.2010
The cafeterias at the Catering School on the Leioa campus of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) use litres upon litres of oil for cooking, given that many students, research workers, lecturers and ancillary staff eat there.

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.

According to lecturer Ms Eneritz Anakabe, "we have shown that it can be done on a small scale, that biodiesel can be obtained from this oil in a simple manner".

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.

Mr Fernando Mijangos, the person in charge of the project, highlighting the advantages of biodiesel and thereby the product they obtained, compared to diesel fuel, stated, "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". 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".

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 optimisation of the product obtained and, on the other, social awareness. As regards the latter, according to Mr Mijangos, the data show that only 3 in every 10 times oil is recycled. The willingness of members of the public, clearly, is indispensable for the raw material collected to be sufficient in order to obtain biodiesel therefrom. The university teachers have taken measures to make the students aware, as Ms Anakabe explains: "We made contact with the Rafrinor company and we placed a container at the entrance —on the right side— of the faculty, in order to collect used oil". It was installed at the beginning of May and will remain there for several months, in order to measure and foment the involvement of the public.

Making people aware is an arduous task. As an example of this, Ms Anakabe refers to her students: "I have 40 students but, to be honest, only ten have committed themselves. This is significant. While the students are more aware, they are still slow in changing – it is "easier" to throw away the oil directly down the sink". Because of this and in order to motivate the students, Mr Mijangos explained that they are undertaking the transesterification reaction —from which we get the biodiesel— jointly with the students. "We are doing two experiments daily, and we are also learning in this way. Moreover, when we finish the project, we hope to write a small booklet with all the experiments and techniques carried out. And then implement them with our students".

Support of UPV/EHU fundamental

In any case, as Mr Mijangos reminds us, "we as researchers are not going to solve this unless there is a commitment from government bodies". Ms Anakabe adds that putting into practice the fruit of these two years of work is in the hands of the people working in the vice-chancellor's office", because government support is essential. "We are scientists and we will continue with our experiments. For example, we will study the treatment to be undertaken (viscosity, density and so on). All this is easy for us. What is not so easy is getting it right in transferring this from laboratory to society", stated Mr Mijangos.

Amaia Portugal | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elhuyar.com

Further reports about: Biodiesel CHEMISTRY biodiesel fuel cooking oil diesel fuel greenhouse effect

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>