Tech Thursdays with ATS – Increasing Biodiesel Yield
Biodiesel is a form of fuel created from processing vegetable oil or animal fat. It can even be made from leftover restaurant grease. Since the biodiesel fuel is made from readily available or recycled material, it is considered a sustainable source of energy. One of the main challenges of the widespread use of biodiesel is in the process used to convert it from its natural form into a fuel that can be compatible with engines. Typically, during this process the natural fat is combined with methanol, a fossil fuel source, to create the biodiesel. However, researchers from Cardiff University believe that they can use part of the waste generated during the process to increase the yield of usable fuel.
If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. On most Thursdays, the ATS blog strives to bring you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!
While biodiesel is generally considered an alternate source of energy, a main limiting factor has been the reliance on an outside fossil fuel source to convert the energy. In a recent study, scientists from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute at Cardiff University have found a catalyst that will convert the waste byproduct of biodiesel production back into methane. This methane can be used to manufacture more biodiesel fuel increasing the biodiesel yield and decreasing the necessity for outside materials. Hydrogen and magnesium oxide are cited as the main components used to catalyze the waste into reusable methanol.
While the research remains in early phases, it has the potential to increase biodiesel production significantly. This both offers a greater source of a sustainable fuel as well as the potential to be applied in alternate ways as the catalyst is further developed.