We must have biodiesel in our gas tanks to help the environment. But biodiesel requires high-quality raw materials, and this limits its supply. Now a new technology opens the possibility to use waste oils to produce biodiesel.

Biodiesel requires good-quality raw materials. Today, this usually means using rapeseed and soy, which are also used in the manufacture of food products. Now Danish researchers will develop a new technology to replace the chemical production of biodiesel with an enzymatic process that will reduce concerns about biodiesel, both for the environment and the supplies of food.

The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation has granted DKK 15 million towards research in biodiesel over the next 3.5 years.

The leader of the project, Per Munk Nielsen from Novozymes A/S, says, ”The chemical process demands raw materials of high quality that can often also be used as food. With a process based on enzymes we will be able to use raw materials of poorer quality, such as animal fats, recycled restaurant oils, and waste products, all materials that cannot be used as food.

”We will also deliver processes that reduce the CO2 contribution, so that in 3.5 years we will have a technology that is well documented as more environmentally friendly. The plan to document the research results includes a pilot-scale plant that will be ready at the end of the 3.5 year grant period,” Per Munk Nielsen adds.

Emmelev A/S, one of the participating companies, already produces biodiesel and sees great possibilities for the project.

”With the new enzymatic process we will be able to use many more different raw materials than we can use today, being mainly rapeseed and soy. We will be able to use waste oils that today are simply thrown away. We will produce only the main products and no by-products,” says Morten Simonsen, Sales Director at Emmelev A/S.

The five partners in the research project are three Danish research institutes, located at the Technical University of Denmark and Aarhus University, and two Danish companies, Novozymes A/S in Bagsvaerd and Emmelev A/S in Otterup.