- Currently most vessels run on bunker fuel, which is harmful to the environment
- Aston University’s pyrolysis-based reactor has converted waste into bio-oil
- When combined with used cooking oil or animal fat it creates a less toxic fuel.
Aston University scientists have blended leftover cooking oil, lamb fat and agricultural waste to develop a cleaner fuel for ships.
The researchers have mixed waste pellets with either used oil or animal fat to develop a form of energy which meets international marine fuel standards.
Currently most vessels run on an oil refinery waste product called bunker fuel, but it presents several environmental concerns including the risk of oil spill and the emission of toxic compounds and particulates. In 2020 the UN banned the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, following its ban in Antarctic waters in 2011.
Now scientists at Aston University have combined waste material supplied by a Dutch anaerobic digestion plant with used oil or fat to create a blend which could be a replacement for bunker oil. Their research "Investigation of anaerobic digested pyrolysis oil and waste derived biodiesel blends as sustainable fuel for marine engine application" has been published in the journal Fuel.
The waste pellets were treated in Aston University’s pyrolysis-based reactor which heated them up to 500 °C to convert them into bio-oil.
Solvents were added to the bio-oil which was then blended with the used cooking oil or fat to create the fuel.
Dr Abul Kalam Hossain, senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical, Biomedical and Design Engineering, said “Over the past ten years both the volume of marine transport and the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions have increased steadily.
“We knew of the potential of pyrolysis oils as renewable biofuels for use at sea in diesel engines. However, due to their low energy content, high acidity and viscosity we knew they needed to be improved.”
The researchers created five blends adding differing amounts of bio-oil, solvent and oil or fat and stored them in the dark for eight months.
Tests showed the blends had improved their heat value, viscosity and density by around 25 to 40% and complied with Marine Fuel Standards (ISO 8216 and ISO 8217) for use in diesel engines and boilers.
The paper states the oil blends can be used in stationary diesel engines as well as marine diesel engines for power generation.
The research illustrates how biomass pyrolysis technology has developed into a sustainable technique which can turn food and agricultural waste into bio-oil. The study’s results could eventually contribute to better global air quality.
The Aston University research team worked alongside academics at the School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering University of Brighton, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India and the College of Engineering Guindy, Anna University, Chennai, India.
- Notes to editors
Fuel Volume 357, Part C, 1 February 2024, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2023.129935
Vikas Sharma a, Abul Kalam Hossain b c, Gareth Griffiths d, Jinesh Cherukkattu Manayil c, Ravikrishnan Vinu e, Ganesh Duraisamy f
School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering University of Brighton, Cockcroft Building Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 4GJ, UK
Department of Mechanical, Biomedical and Design Engineering, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK
Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK
Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras), Chennai 600036, India
College of Engineering Guindy, Anna University, Chennai 600025, India
About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.
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