Used Cooking Oil to Power U.K. Homes
by Mary Mazzoni
Published on November 1st, 2011
The Federation of Fish Fryers in the U.K. estimates that one out of every four British potatos becomes part of a fish and chips dinner. That’s 1.25 million tons every year and a whole lot of cooking oil. Photo: Flickr/ Nigel’s Europe
Creative greenies have found some pretty cool applications for used cooking oil. It powers bus fleets, helps people travel the world and can even be used to heat your home. This month, Merseyside, England is taking recycled oil even further by using it to power local homes.
Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA), its contractor Veolia Environmental Services and green energy firm Living Fuels are teaming up to collect waste oil, refine it and produce a patented bioliquid, waste management officials said.
Living Fuels will use the bioliquid to power specially-designed engines and supply power to the national grid – a move that waste management officials said will provide renewable energy, help keep the community clean and save U.K. water companies millions of pounds per year.
Cooking oil is a common household waste product in Merseyside, thanks to all those yummy fish and chips platters. And many residents simply pour their used oil down the sink – which gunks up local sewer systems and contaminates the environment, officials said.
Water companies in the U.K. currently spend £15 million a year clearing used cooking oil from their sewers, and 75 percent of the 200,000 drain clearance call-outs every year involve cooking oil, according to MWDA.
“Millions of pounds are being tipped down the drain every year as a direct result of pouring cooking oil into the sink,” said Joe De’Asha, chairperson of MWDA. “As well as removing this waste product from the environment we’re also helping to create energy. So, residents can be doubly pleased they’re helping clean up Merseyside.”
Collection tanks have been fitted at the region’s 14 household waste recycling centers, where residents can bring their leftover cooking oil rather than pouring it down the drain. Holding about 330 gallons, each tank will produce enough electricity to power one average home for an entire year, according to Living Fuels.
“Since we started out three years ago we’ve collected enough waste oil to power 5,000 UK homes for a year. But we can still do much, much more,” said Rob Murphy, operations director for Living Fuels.
The company has been collecting cooking oil from U.K. businesses since 2008, and executives said they are thrilled to have Merseyside as a partner to rescue more waste oil from landfills and water supplies.
Cooking oil recycling will be available to all Merseyside residents, including households in Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens and Wirral