In April 2013, China followed in the footsteps of the United States, France and Finland, becoming the world’s fourth country to have independently developed biofuel technology. Now, according to China Daily, processed cooking oil may be turned into bus fuel within the next two years.
It was only in July last year when Shanghai sold 2,000 tons of gutter oil to KLM. Since then, CNPC in China have developed their own biofuel production methods and kickstarted the development of biofuel technology in the country. A month ago, a China Eastern Airbus A320 used CNPC’s biofuel prototype and completed a successful test flight from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, landing safely an hour and a half later. The fuel, comprised of gutter oil, seaweed oil, animal fats, and coconut oil, performed just as efficiently as normal aviation fuel. This mixture is not just used in China; according to IATA, at least 15 airlines have performed over 1400 commercial passenger flights with blends of up to 50 percent bio-jet fuel from used cooking oil, jatropha, camelina and algae. Safe to say that swill oil made using animal hide and bones did not make the list.
Following on from the success of the aviation biofuel, a mixed diesel has been developed by the Shanghai Municipal Food Safety Committee in conjunction with Tongji University and six other businesses. Conceived of as part of Shanghai Municipality’s improvements to its public transportation system, the fuel has been tested on more than 300 taxis, buses and lorries, and may be implemented in the next two years. This development and implementation of biofuels within China is highly encouraging, and will also help to bring China closer to realising its 2020 commitments of reducing carbon intensity by 40-50 percent by 2020.
In addition to subsidising those who use the auto fuel, the project has also set a precedent in the waste oil processing industry, outlining strict security regulations throughout the entire production chain. For Yan Zuqiang, committee director of the Shanghai Municipal Food Safety Committee, it is imperative that the selection of oil collectors and the waste oil collection process are safely regulated. “On the one hand, we emphasised cleaning up illegal oil collectors. On the other, we looked for ideal ways to use the recycled oil. Using it as auto fuel is one of them,” he said.
Given the countless gutter oil recycling scandals, one can only hope that the restaurant industry takes note.
By Lisa Wang // Image credit: Jackie Meng