Queen’s to convert catering waste oils to fuels

The front of Queen's University Belfast

£500,000 project at Queen’s to convert catering waste oils to fuels and chemicals

Researchers at Queen’s University have been awarded a grant to support a £500,000 project to convert waste fats and oils into biofuels, which could be used as replacements for petrol, diesel and aviation fuels.

The project, supported by the Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE), which is hosted at Queen’s and funded through the Invest Northern Ireland Competence Centre programme, is a joint initiative with Queen’s spin-out company MOF Technologies, Belgian firm Oleon and Co. Antrim-based CaterWaste.

The current process to convert catering waste, namely fats and oils, into biofuels is lengthy and complex, involving multiple solvents and high temperature and pressures. But a new process, using catalysts provided by MOF Technologies via a new technique to avoid the use of solvents, can be used at low temperature and pressures. It is anticipated that the biofuels, as well as the value added chemicals created in this new process, could also be used in cosmetics, inks and building materials.

CASE Director, Sam McCloskey, said: “This project is one of more than a dozen funded by CASE, which is giving more than 30 local companies unique access to the world-class research expertise, skills and facilities at Queen’s, Ulster University and AFBI. These collaborations are crucial to the development of Northern Ireland’s sustainable energy sector, and are a fine example of how local SME’s can work alongside academia and multinational organisations to develop new technologies and processes for their business.”

Dr Paschal McCloskey, CEO of MOF Technologies, said: “By using our innovative manufacturing process we can manufacture next generation catalysts that are used to efficiently convert these waste materials into valuable fuel and chemical sources.

“This is another example of how through our novel production process MOF Technologies is contributing to the development of new environmentally friendly manufacturing technologies for the 21st century.”

This exciting project forms part of CASE’s £5 million budget from Invest Northern Ireland. The Centre is highlighting a range of projects within the sustainable energy sector on Wednesday 23 September as part of a ShowCASE event. Held at Queen’s University’s Riddel Hall, the event will also feature information on accessing up to £1.5 million for research and development collaborations within the sustainable energy sector.