Potential for biodiesel from use cooking oil and FOGs in London

November 2013: The Mayor announced today that TfL will be deploying 12o buses from the Barking depot which will run on a blend of 80 per cent regular diesel and 20 per cent biodiesel. The press release states that “Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning fuel made from used cooking oil from the catering industry and tallow which is a residue from the meat processing trade. It is estimated that buses running on biodiesel produce 15 per cent less ‘well to wheel’ carbon emissions than an ordinary diesel-powered bus…No mechanical change is needed to allow a bus to run on a 20% blend of biofuel. The biodiesel in this trial is being supplied by Argent Energy with the standard diesel supplied by Prax Petroleum.”

The GLA also commissioned consultants LRS to produce a report on the market opportunity for a biodiesel market in London using used cooking oil (UCOs), fats oils and grease (FOGs) from commercial and domestic sources in the capital. The report can be downloaded here and sets out to “evaluate the potential to reduce the emissions and carbon footprint of the bus fleet in London by using up to B30 biodiesel instead of petrodiesel. Additional sustainability benefits would be achieved by using biodiesel made from used cooking oil (UCO) and fats, oils and greases (FOGs) instead of virgin oils.”

The report references recent disputes in London over UCO (see Daily Telegraph story here) stating “only 3-4 years ago illegal disposal of UCO down drains was recognised to be a significant issue, recently the demand for UCO has soared and led to ‘Cooking Oil Wars’, whereby collectors pay increasingly escalating prices to commercial organisations for UCO.”

In terms of London’s potential to produce biodiesel, on the basis of national estimates, the report suggests that using the “ratio of London’s population to the national population and uplifting to reflect the greater concentration of catering establishments in London gives an estimate of 32-44 million litres of UCO waste arisings in the London area. There are nearly 24,000 food and beverage service activities in London, along with a further 835 businesses in London working in the food manufacturing sector, most of which contribute to the production of UCOs. In particular London has over 8,000 fast food outlets, with some of the highest concentrations of such food outlets in the country.”
Lot of interesting findings in this comprehensive report. More on biodiesel use in London here.

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