Recycling cooking oil as biofuel

Recycling cooking oil as biofuel

© Adrien Galerneau

Turning waste into biofuel? SUEZ and TOTAL have joined forces to collect and recycle used cooking oil. Find out more about this sustainable solution.

Cooking oils are used for frying, cooking, preserving food and seasoning. Once they have been used, they are simply thrown away. They can then solidify and block the sewers. In wastewater plants, the film of impervious oil that forms can asphyxiate the micro-organisms that destroy impurities. And when they end up in the bin, they can make the refuse collector’s job harder and disrupt the operation of incinerators.

To fight against this phenomenon, it’s possible to recycle the used cooking oil and transform them into biofuel. To begin with, the cooking oil is collected from private individuals, restaurants or food industry (1). It is then taken to a pre-treatment centre (2), where it is heated to 80°C (a) and filtered, in order to extract the solid residue (b). The remaining liquid is then left to settle in order to separate the water from the oil (c). The transformation into biodiesel (d) is realised in a biorefinery plant and is based mainly on esterification, a chemical reaction between oil and methanol, or on hydrogenation, a physico-chemical reaction with hydrogen. It allows to produce one litre of biodiesel from one litre of oil.

In 2016, SUEZ and Total teamed up to supply the most important French biorefinery at la Mède (France). The goal? To collect 20,000 of the 110,000 tonnes used cooking oil produced in France every year, and to recycle it as high-quality biodiesel (HVO) that is 100% usable in conventional engines (3). In comparison with fossil diesel, this biofuel also reduces CO2 emissions by 83%! Finally, SUEZ and Total have prioritised local circuits and work with socially responsible companies to collect the used cooking oil.
This article was published in the fourth issue of open_resource magazine: “The circular economy era


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