• Tamil Nadu: Biodiesel from used cooking oil soon

    The food safety department has launched a survey to estimate the quantity of used oil generated by food vendors, including restaurants and bakeries, in the district.

    The department plans to identify entrepreneurs, who can collect used cooking oil and convert it into biofuel or biodiesel that can be used to run vehicles and machines.

    Restaurants and bakeries now sell used oil to street food vendors or dump it in the garbage or pour it into water bodies. Street vendors reuse it for frying. However, consumption of such food leads to health hazards like increased cholesterol, acidity and risk of cancer.

    The department had called restaurateurs and bakery owners for a meeting early this month and asked them to keep a tab on the amount of cooking oil consumed and disposed of daily. “We also asked food safety officers in all zones and blocks to visit restaurants and bakeries and collect the data,” designated food safety officer Tamilselvan said. “We will approach the food business operators, who are using more than 50 liters of oil, to collect the data and prepare a final estimate on the amount of oil used for frying and that disposed of a day.”

    Once they have the numbers, the officials plan to identify agencies, companies, entrepreneurs and NGOs, who have the technology to convert used oil into biofuel. “The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had launched the concept of repurposing used cooking oil (Ruco). It had shown examples of entrepreneurs in other parts of the country making biofuel. We need to find companies in our vicinity that can do it,” Tamilselvan told TOI.

    The FSSAI website highlights the case of a Haryana-based entrepreneur, who is converting 5,000 litres of used oil into biofuel a day. The company uses a transesterification process. It can convert vegetable oil and animal fat into biofuel. The product is sold to fuel producers and residential areas to run electric generators.

    “While the concept is new to us, we plan to explore options once we have the estimates,” the officer added.

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