Using microwave heating, researchers at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) said they have developed a way to turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel and hope to commercialize the technology within a year through cooperation with local businesses.
NCKU distinguished professor Liao Jiunn-der (廖峻德) and visiting professor Aharon Gedanken of Israel announced their finding, which relies on strontium oxide as a catalyst, on Thursday.
With the catalyst, used cooking oil can be transesterified into biodiesel and glycerol in a modified microwave oven in 10 to 40 seconds, they said.
The strontium oxide can then be reused, making the recycling method highly efficient, Liao said.
The process can turn waste into a resource that contributes to the environment and economy, especially in Taiwan, where cooking and eating habits mean restaurants, homes and schools produce a considerable amount of waste oil, Gedanken said.
Liao said he hoped the method would help Taiwan, where diesel fuel currently consists of 2 to 3 percent biodiesel, to meet the EU’s target of having biodiesel make up 20 percent of all diesel used by 2020.
The university is working on applying a patent for the technique, he said.
The modified microwave developed by Gedanken is able to handle an estimated 500kg of waste oil per day, Liao said.
The results proved that the transesterification of waste cooking oil to biodiesel using strontium oxide as a catalyst is a commercially viable way to decrease the costs of biodiesel production, he added.