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Innovating in the Netherlands

Turning used cooking oil into eco-friendly fuel in the pursuit of sustainable circularity

Currently, only 40% of the oil used for cooking in Europe is collected and processed. The rest is discharged into drains, causing significant ecological damage. The company Eco Fuels has developed a process through which it produces a biofuel that reduces the CO2 produced by up to 90%.

It will be some time before road and water transport in Europe runs entirely on sustainable fuels or electricity.

To bridge the transition period from fossil fuels to sustainable freight transport, the company Eco Fuels developed a procedure in which used frying oil is converted into biodiesel.

 "We achieved a 90%  reduction in CO2 and will reduce it even further in the future," says Aart van Eekelen, COO of Bio Oil Group, the head company of Eco Fuels.

While innovations in battery technology and developments in the field of hydrogen are promising for tomorrow's freight transport, a short-term solution is also needed to achieve climate goals.

One short-term solution could be biodiesel. Eco Fuels has developed a process in which the biologically active substance methanol is used to convert various types of used cooking oil into biofuel.

Currently, only 40% of frying and cooking fats in Europe are collected and processed. "So, we have found a great new application," says van Eekelen.

The company collects used frying oil from several countries in Europe and Africa, including Romania, Austria and Egypt.

By blending fossil fuels with biofuels, there is a significant reduction of CO2, up to about 90%.

Ultimately, it should be possible to further reduce CO2 emissions released during biodiesel production, Van Eekelen believes. 

"A part of our CO2 emissions is currently still in the energy we need for our production process. In the coming years, we plan to produce more sustainably by (re)utilising waste heat and/or sustainable energy sources from other companies. Many companies here have a surplus of energy. We are currently talking to several of these companies to see how we can apply this energy in our business operations."

At least until 2040, some road transport will use diesel. Increasing the biodiesel blend percentage, for example from seven to ten per cent, can make a significant difference in the bridge period.

"Ultimately, we will move to zero-emission electric transport. But I would say: be smart, adjust the legislation and raise the percentage. That way you ensure a positive impact in the short term." 

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