How Is Recycled Cooking Oil Processed and What Can It Be Used For?

How Is Recycled Cooking Oil Processed and What Can It Be Used For?

March 1, 2019

Biodiesel is a type of liquid fuel that can be processed from various types of vegetable oils and fats recycled for fuel purposes. Because it is produced from oils and fats, it is both nontoxic and biodegradable, and when burned it produces significantly fewer emissions than the standard type of petroleum-based fuel you are likely accustomed with. All this adds up to a fuel that is much more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Where do these oils come from?

Think about how much cooking oil must get used in American restaurants every single year. The amount of oil stored in a single restaurant is immense—this oil is crucial for supporting menus and cooking operations. Various types of these oils are used in any commercial kitchen, and each type has its own individual purpose based on the cooking style or practice.

Deep fryers, for example, cook at an average of 350 to 375 degrees, which is too high for some types of oils to avoid burning, so those fryers will use peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil and lard. In specialty restaurants or high-end establishments, duck fat might also be used in deep fryers to provide more savory flavors.

For sautéing, the oil does not have to withstand as high of temperatures, meaning moderate-burning oils such as coconut oil, grape seed oil, canola oil or olive oil can be used. Sesame seed oil is also frequently used for sautéing in Asian cuisine for the flavor it adds to the dish.

Add in all the other types of oils used in kitchens, including truffle oil, extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil and walnut oil, and there is simply a seemingly endless amount of oil used in these food service establishments. It has to go somewhere after it’s been used, and it can’t just go down a drain, because it will congeal and block up the sewer system.

Obtaining the oils

As mentioned previously, “grease dumping” is a practice that must be avoided, because pouring that oil down a drain will simply result in it causing blockages. It’s actually an illegal practice in the United States, because of how much damage a single restaurant could do to a local area’s municipal sewer and plumbing systems.

Fortunately, there are companies that specialize in grease collection and pickup. Many restaurants participate in oil recycling and waste oil pickup services in New Orleans, LA, which then either dispose of these oils properly or recycle them for use in biofuel.

According to information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hotels, restaurants and other businesses that have commercial kitchens generate more than 3 billion gallons of waste cooking oil every year. Think of how much fuel this oil could create if all of it were collected, processed and refined!

The refining process involves transesterification, in which the triglyceride oils in those fats and greases undergo a chemical reaction that creates fatty acid alkyl esters (biodiesel) and glycerin.

If you’re interested in learning more about the process of creating biofuel through cooking oil recycling in New Orleans, LA, contact Safeway Used Oil and Grease today.

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