Fish and chip oil could be key to fuel economy project,says Seafish Published: 22 March, 2006
SEAFISH has launched a project which aims to provide the fishing industry with an alternative, low-cost and environmentally-friendly fuel, it emerged today.
And the same oil you use to fry fish and chips could provide an answer.
With rising fuel costs and increasing environmental pressure, a viable alternative to conventional diesel would deliver huge benefits to fishermen, the authority says.
The project brings together technical expertise in bio-diesel technology from the Camborne School of Mines and in control electronics from Oxfordshire-based technology company, Regenatec. It is partly funded by the European Union through the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), and Seafish will manage the project on behalf of Defra.
Two different approaches said to offer distinct choices for fishermen will be investigated. The project being run by Camborne will produce a form of biodiesel which can be used directly in existing engines. The other approach by Regenatec, is to make minor modifications to a marine engine to allow it to run on straight vegetable oil – the same oil you can use to fry fish and chips.
Tom Rossiter, Technical Implementation Manager at Seafish, who is overseeing the initiative said: “We’ve seen crippling fuel price increases of over 100% in the last 24 months that have hit the industry really hard. There is also increasing pressure to find green alternatives to conventional fuels. Biofuels could provide solutions to both these issues at once.”
Biofuels are renewable sources of energy made from vegetable oils of plants such as oil seed rape and sunflowers. They contribute far less greenhouse gas than conventional diesel and the CO2 they emit is absorbed by plants when they grow.
Mr Rossiter added: “Biofuels are huge news just now. The UK Government committed itself in the 2003 Energy White Paper to reduce CO2 emissions in the UK by 60% by around 2050 and Alistair Darling recently announced that by 2010, five per cent of all transport fuel sold in the UK will have to come from a renewable source. A number of car manufacturers, from Volvo to Saab, are also exploring the possibilities of biofuels, and just last week, UK supermarket Morrisons announced that it would open the UK’s first bioethanol filling pump.”
Investigating the use of biofuels on land may be well advanced, but using biofuels at sea has several advantages. Marine diesel contains higher sulphur content than land-based diesel fuel which translates into substantial sulphur dioxide emissions at sea. These emissions lead to the formation of acid rain. With biofuels, however, these emissions would be reduced by over 99%.
In addition, marine engines are generally lower revving and more tolerant of different types of fuel than terrestrial engines, such as those found in cars. This tolerance should allow marine engines to run lower grade – and ultimately cheaper – biofuels.
“Straight vegetable oil is likely to prove cheaper per litre than biodiesel, but there are upfront costs involved in modifying the engine, so each solution will be attractive depending on typical fuel usage patterns of individual vessels.
“We’re really excited about what this project could do for the fishing industry,” Mr Rossiter continued.
“We will be testing the biofuels on two fishing boats in Newlyn and Grimsby in the next few months. If all goes to plan, we will progress to investigating widespread commercial use by the end of 2007.”