Egyptian scholar at Assam university develops biodiesel from food waste

Khalifa Said H. Eldeihy worked on residual food items such as soybean cooking oil waste and leaves of radish and sweet potato

August 11, 2022 02:43 pm | Updated 02:43 pm IST - GUWAHATI

File photo for representation.

File photo for representation. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Leaves of radish and sweet potato are potent sources for producing low-cost biodiesel from waste cooking oil, an Egyptian scholar and his associates at central Assam’s Tezpur University have discovered.

Their studies have been published in the latest editions of two leading science journals – Renewable Energy and Industrial Crops & Products. One is on producing biodiesel from waste soybean oil using radish leaves as a base catalyst while the other is on producing biodiesel from microalgal oil and waste cooking oil using waste sweet potato leaves as catalyst.

Khalifa Said H. Eldiehy from Alexandria in Egypt is the lead author of both the studies. The other authors include his supervisor Manabendra Mandal of the university’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and Dhanapati Deka of the university’s Department of Energy.

The new and innovative chemical process has significantly reduced the cost of the production of biofuel, a long-term quest of scientists around the globe, Mr. Eldiehy said.

“Our primary intention is to stop climate change. Day-to-day food items such as used cooking oil, thrown away by households and restaurants as waste, can be used as feedstock for producing biodiesel at a much lower cost,” he said.

Agricultural wastes are promising sources for producing renewable and sustainable clean energies, Prof. Mandal said.

“Generally, biodiesel is produced by the reaction between triglyceride feedstock and alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to form the fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and glycerol,” he explained.

Mr. Khalifa, who started work on the project in October 2019, changed the feedstock oil and catalyst in the chemical process to reduce the cost of the production of biodiesel. He treated residual cooking oil and algae oil, which were then used as feedstock oil.

Microalga is a great proponent of greenhouse gas reduction and can also be cultivated in wastewater. Calcination of the leaves of radish and sweet potato, rich in potassium, resulted in the desired catalyst.

“Biobased systems for the production of chemicals and energy can substitute conventional sources. Thus, it can help in reducing the climate change possibilities,” Prof. Deka said.

The other authors of the two published papers are Minakshi Gohain, Niran Daimary, Doljit Borah, Debasish Sarmah and Utpal Bora – all PhD students of Tezpur University.

A university spokesperson said the techno-economic analysis of the project is underway to determine the actual cost of the production of biodiesel.

Mr. Khalifa said he plans to apply this process of low-cost biodiesel production on a large scale in Egypt in collaboration with Tezpur University and Indian authorities.

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