Volume 93, Issue 38

Friday, November 5, 1999


Bill could target panhandling

Fresh air for diabetic research

Elgin Hall officially opens with ceremony

Deputy registrar waves goodbye

A healthy way of life - sort of

Food grease and oil may fuel cars of the future


Buzz Mecca

Caught on campus

Food grease and oil may fuel cars of the future

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

The enhancement of a process which creates a viable fuel from leftover food grease and vegetable oil, is promising to revolutionize the fuel industry.

A product of eight years of research at the University of Toronto, the improved process produces a fuel, which burns cleanly, without the emission problems created by fossil fuels, said George Adams, president of the U of T Innovations Foundation, which controls the commercial development of the biodiesel.

"Biodiesel fuel is [what results] when you make diesel from used vegetable oils and waste trap grease," he explained, adding it could be used as an alternative to diesel fuels. "The technique used today needs high grade cooking oil and needs several passes. Our process needs one pass and reduces the cost by 50 per cent, making it economically viable."

Adams said the numerous passes through a refining machine was what contributed to the high cost of producing biodiesel. "The advantage is you're not putting new carbon sources in the air. [Biodiesel] burns cleanly."

Russ Teall, spokesperson for the Biodiesel Development Corporation in California, said the company was interested in the new technique.

Recently licensed by the U of T Innovations Foundation to produce biodiesel, using the new formula, Teall said he viewed the innovation as having the potential of a multi-million dollar industry.

"The impact is that it represents a fundamental improvement in biodiesel," he said. "Biodiesel is very environmentally friendly. You can drink it, although it's a pretty powerful laxative and it reduces carbon monoxide," he said.

However, Terry Boland, spokesperson for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, said he would advise caution towards the innovation.

"It's cheap now, but it will start to put a price on spent grease, it won't be long before someone will collect grease and the price will rise," Boland said.

Amarjeet Bassi, a biochemistry professor at Western, explained the potentially large impact of biodiesel in the future.

"The main impact is it cuts down on emissions. It is getting viable, because environmental guidelines are getting stricter. In the United States there is a push in this direction."

Boland added biodiesel is only one part of the bigger picture of replacing fossil fuels. "It's part of the puzzle. If you look at Canadian fuel usage at 34 billion barrels, collecting grease off stoves will not replace it," he said.

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