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Solutions
| 03/17/16

Turning waste cooking oil into biodiesel

TCE

Canadian clean technology that converts waste feedstock oil into low-carbon diesel is assisting communities in developing nations around the world, according to theVancouver company behind the BioCube product.

The BioCube is a 20-foot repurposed shipping container equipped with a biodiesel processor. It works by converting excess feedstock oils such as waste vegetable oil from restaurants, crude palm oil soya, corn, coconut, pongamia or tallow into usable biodiesel. The product comes out ready for use in any diesel engine without need for modification.

The biodiesel it produces can reduce carbon emissions by up to 70 per cent relative to regular diesel. And biodiesel produced in BC from waste vegetable oil clocked in at 95 per cent less carbon-intensive than regular diesel.

The BioCube is portable, weighing 3.5 tonnes, and self-generating—that is, it uses its own biodiesel to operate, though it can also connect to grid power where available. This makes it particularly suitable for agriculture in Africa, for example, where one model is fuelling a remote palm oil mill plantation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While industrial-scale refineries are stationary and cost millions to set up and operate, BioCube is geared towards the mid-range market, where one unit costs around 15 per cent of the cheapest mid-sized refinery and is much smaller.

A visit earlier this month to the Coquitlam-based company by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has helped attract attention to the tech company as it looks to expand its client base across the developed and developing world, including here at home.

The firm is currently servicing clients in African states, India, and Australia, but it hopes to begin selling its wares in North America as well—if current barriers can be overcome.

“We have customers here in BC who want a BioCube; unfortunately political roadblocks and tough economics make biodiesel production unfeasible for them,” says BioCube Director, Peter Wilken.

In depth

Can there really be carbon-neutral gasoline? A BC firm reckons it might arrive sooner rather than later

The Climate Examiner speaks to BC-based Carbon Engineering about the technology, the business and the policies that could make direct air capture, synfuels and carbon sequestration work.

Climate news and analysis that's relevant for you, every week.