Biodiesel Fuel from Recycled Restaurant Grease as a Sustainable Energy Solution

Used restaurant cooking oil and grease are liquid gold as they can be turned into something that greatly benefits the world as a sustainable energy solution. Not only does it reduce the dependency on oil, but the emissions biodiesel produces are reduced. Plus, it keeps fats, oils, and grease (FOG) out of landfills and sewers.

It’s especially important to keep FOG out of sewers as it can create blockages that lead to sewage spills in homes, businesses, and the environment. It’s a mess that no one wants.

As of 2021, less than 100 biodiesel production facilities existed in the U.S. But, those facilities can produce over 2 billion gallons of biodiesel each year. About 1.8 billion gallons were produced in 2020, and 1.9 billion gallons were used. The excess was imported.

Currently, biodiesel is blended with petroleum diesel at rates of 2%, 5%, or 20%, graded as B2, B5, or B20. Some vehicles are set up to run 100% (B100) diesel, but most trucks and cars use a blend. What people don’t realize is that biodiesel can extend engine life as it lubricates better, but this also poses issues in cold weather as it gels easily.

Why Is Petroleum Diesel a Problem?

Traditional diesel is refined from crude oil. When it’s burned, it creates harmful greenhouse gas emissions and ground-level ozone and particulates. To lower the damage diesel was causing, low-sulfur diesel became a requirement. In 2007, diesel engines had to be designed to only operate on low-sulfur diesel. Still, this change only reduced particulates by up to 90% and nitrogen by 25% to 50%. 

Air pollution is just part of the problem. Petroleum-based diesel requires crude oil that has to be drawn from deep underground through an oil rig. Huge drills create the path from the reservoir that’s deep below the ground and then pumped to the surface. Oil rigs may be on the land or in the ocean, and both can create spills that are devastating to the environment. 

The other issue with diesel is that it’s linked to respiratory illnesses and conditions like asthma. They can be especially problematic in children and the elderly with other health issues like COPD and heart disease.

How Is Recycled Restaurant Grease Converted to Biodiesel

Biodiesel is created from recycled restaurant grease. How does this process work? It’s a multi-step process that starts with restaurant cooking oil and grease recycling. A restaurant hires a company to haul away their used cooking oil in exchange for discounted grease trap cleanings. Used cooking oil is valuable, so restaurants can make money by recycling used cooking oil rather than throwing it away.

The used cooking oil is collected and transported to a processing plant. There, it undergoes these steps.

  1. Filtering 

The used cooking oil and fat are carefully filtered to remove any charred food particles, water, and other contaminants.

  1. Transesterification 

The cleaned oil is introduced to a short-chain alcohol like methanol or ethanol and a catalyst like sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. This creates a chemical reaction that converts the mixture into biodiesel and glycerin. Glycerin can be used to make products like soap, skin lotions, etc.

 A mixture of about 100 gallons of used cooking oil and 10 pounds of a short-chain alcohol creates 100 pounds of biodiesel and 10 pounds of glycerin. How much is 100 pounds of biodiesel? The weight-to-volume conversion brings you to just under 14 gallons of biodiesel.

  1. Mixing

While some vehicles might be able to use 100% biodiesel, it’s not helpful in cooler climates where cold temperatures will cause it to gum up the engine. Typically, it’s blended with petroleum-based diesel to lower the demand for traditional diesel while embracing the environmental benefits of biodiesel.

Typically, biodiesel that’s a 5% mixture can travel through pipelines, while B20 or B100 is shipped via tanker trucks or tankers on ships and trains to the retailer. From there, it gets pumped into your truck or car’s diesel fuel tank.

Where Is the Future of Biodiesel Heading?

If you go back in history, biodiesel is actually a return to the past. Before the Great Depression, vehicles ran on corn oil-based ethanol. When petroleum-based gasoline became available at lower prices in the Great Depression, the switch took place. It wasn’t until the 1990s that people started to look at the value of biodiesel again.

It’s estimated that biofuel demand will reach 10.8 billion gallons by 2026. It’s not only used to power engines in cars and trucks that use diesel, but it also is being used in airplanes. A United flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C. was one of the first flights made using biodiesel. That flight reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 75%, which was an amazing feat. 

The goals are to increase the production of sustainable jet fuel to 3 billion gallons per year by 2030 and 35 billion gallons by 2050. Currently, the aviation industry accounts for up to 12% of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. A switch to biodiesel will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s also expected to bring about 10,000 new jobs to the economy.

How Do You Recycle Your Cooking Oil?

The easiest way to recycle your used cooking oil and fats is by partnering with a company that offers used cooking oil collection. You’ll get rebates on other services, which is important to restaurants in Portland, Oregon, as grease trap cleaning is required by city ordinances, and you need to keep proof of those cleanings in your records. 

You’ll get a large container to empty your fryers and pans into when needed. It’s emptied following an arranged schedule, but you might find your oil container fills more quickly, and with Northwest Biofuel, we’ll come out within 24 hours to empty it for you. We can pick up your used cooking oil each week, twice a month, or each month, depending on how often you need us to collect it. There’s no cost to you.

Find the Best Restaurant Grease Recycling Company

How do you find the best cooking oil collection provider? Start with a search of your area and read reviews. Northwest Biofuel offers the lowest prices and the best grease trap cleaning service in Oregon. If you’re not happy with the service we provide, it’s free. It’s that easy. We don’t charge you for used cooking oil collection.

We also make it easy to save money on your grease trap cleaning services. When you pair grease trap cleanings with cooking oil collection, you’ll save money. Plus, you can get a substantial discount for giving us a key so that we can come in when you’re not busy and collect oil or have to adjust your schedule to have someone meet us there. 

Talk to Northwest Biofuel about your Portland-area restaurant’s grease trap cleaning and used cooking oil collection needs. We’re happy to let you know how we can offer great services at the lowest prices you’ll find, all without ever having to get locked into a contract.

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