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Use of waste vegetable

oil as an alternate
source of fuel

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Executive Summary
Our study will estimate the feasibility of the use of vegetable oil as an alternate source of
fuel. Results of this research will provide important results that will help us know the benefits
of this source of fuel. It will also help us gauge the consumer awareness level regarding the
same. A primary research was conducted amongst the team members and results were
collated. There was an intense discussion on the usage and feasibility of this source of fuel
and their benefits. The sample population chosen were those who are aware of the alternate
sources of fuel. A questionnaire was developed which will help us to know the awareness of
the respondents regarding the prevalent alternate sources of fuel. The reasons will be
identified for the respondents to switch to an alternate source of fuel and what are the benefits
they look for.

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Contents
Executive Summary...............................................................................................2
Introduction...........................................................................................................4
History and Background........................................................................................4
Problem Statement................................................................................................5
Purpose of the Research........................................................................................5
Literature Review..................................................................................................5
Research Design....................................................................................................5
Research Methodology.......................................................................................5
Data Collection...................................................................................................5
Designing the questionnaire...............................................................................6
Sampling Procedure...........................................................................................6
Data Tabulation and Analysis.............................................................................6
Sources of Data..................................................................................................7
Current Uses of Vegetable Oil................................................................................7
Research Findings - Future Importance and Benefits............................................7
No net CO2 or greenhouse gas production.........................................................7
Replacement of Fossil fuels................................................................................7
Safety.................................................................................................................7
Generation and storage......................................................................................8
Electricity generation.........................................................................................8
Market of Biodiesels...........................................................................................8
Attainment of Kyoto Protocol Targets.................................................................8
Limitations.............................................................................................................8
Conclusion.............................................................................................................9
References...........................................................................................................10
Appendix..............................................................................................................10
Questionnaire......................................................................................................11
Questionnaire

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Introduction
Cooking oil is produced from vegetable and nut sources and contains high fat allowances.
The term ‘used cooking oils’ refers to cooking oil which has been used in food production
and which is no longer viable for its intended use. Used cooking oil arises from many
different sources, including domestic, commercial and industrial.

Proper disposal of used cooking oil is an important waste-management concern. Oil is lighter
than water and tends to spread into thin and broad membranes which hinder the oxygenation
of water. Because of this, a single litre of oil can contaminate as much as 1 million litres of
water. Also, oil can congeal on pipes provoking blockages.

Because of this, cooking oil should never be dumped on the kitchen sink or in the toilet bowl.
The proper way to dispose of oil is to put it in a sealed non-recyclable container and discard it
with regular garbage.

Cooking oil can be recycled. It can be used to produce biodiesel.

Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain
alkyl (methyl, propyl or ethyl) esters. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting
lipids (e.g., vegetable oil, animal fat (tallow)) with an alcohol.

History and Background


While the use of vegetable or animal oils and fats as fuels may be somewhat surprising at
first, when examined in an historical context we can see that the compression ignition engine,
first developed to a usable level of functionality by the French-born Rudolf Diesel near the
end of the 19th century, was originally designed to operate on vegetable oil.

In 1900, Rudolf Diesel demonstrated his new compression ignition engine at the World
Exhibition in Paris running on peanut oil. In 1911 he wrote “The engine can be fed with
vegetable oils and would help considerably in the development of agriculture in the countries
that use it.”

It was about this time that new drilling technology and exploration techniques were
developed and together these ushered in the age of cheap and plentiful fossil fuels.
Consequently, the use of vegetable and animal oils and fats as fuels has only been used for a
few special purposes such as in racing fuels or in environmentally sensitive areas where
petroleum spills tend to cause more serious problems than do spills of animal and/or
vegetable derived fuels.

After some one hundred years of using liquid petroleum fuels, we are now finding that there
are unforeseen side effects, the foremost perhaps being the so-called Enhanced Greenhouse
Effect.

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Problem Statement
Waste edible oils and fats pose significant disposal problems. The US Motor Gasoline
Consumption comes to 8,989,000 barrels/day (378 million gallons/day) and 137.97 billion
gallons/day. Also US Crude Oil imports 9,783,000 barrels/day.

As of 2008, the United States was producing in excess of 22 billion litres (5.8 billion US
gallons) of waste vegetable oil annually, mainly from industrial deep fryers in potato
processing plants, snack food factories and fast food restaurants. If all those 19 billion litres
could be collected and used to replace the energetically equivalent amount of petroleum,
almost 1.5% of US oil consumption could be offset.

A research problem, in general, refers to some difficulty which a researcher experiences in


the context of either a theoretical or practical situation and works to obtain a solution for the
same. In the context of the use of vegetable oil as an alternate source of fuel, some key
problems are:
✔ Why is there a need of use of vegetable oil as an alternate source of fuel for vehicles?
✔ What problems are being faced by us while using existing fuels?

Purpose of the Research


The main purpose of this research is to examine and analyze the use of vegetable oil as an
alternate source of fuel for cars, in terms of financial feasibility and environmental benefits.

The Key Research Objectives are:


✔ To find out the feasibility of use of vegetable oil as an alternate source of fuel
✔ To know the environmental benefits from usage of this fuel
✔ To find the consumer awareness level regarding the use of the alternate source of fuel

Literature Review

Research Design
Research Methodology
The research methodology has been designed keeping research objectives under
consideration. The research methodology aims to measure the feasibility of using vegetable
oil as an alternate source of fuel and its benefits.

Data Collection
The Exploratory Phase
An exploratory primary research was conducted among the 6 team members itself. All of
them were aware of the environment problems faced by using fuels and how they contribute
to the economy.

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All of us on brainstormed various aspects which were aligned with the research objectives.
No questionnaire was used for this and it was a general discussion regarding usage of
alternate sources of fuel and how their usage can benefit us, if successful.
Key findings
✔ Regular fuels cause a lot of pollution
✔ Awareness of usage of alternate sources of fuel is catching up with society
✔ Alternate sources of fuel reduces carbon emissions
✔ Reduced carbon emissions can win many accolades to an organization or a country

Designing the questionnaire


A questionnaire was prepared to gauge the awareness regarding usage and availability of
alternate sources of fuel in the society. The questions were designed in such a way so as to
align them with the research objectives.
What Information is needed?
We have made an attempt to know the awareness of the respondents regarding the prevalent
alternate sources of fuel and their usage. Further an attempt was made to find out the reasons
for respondents to switch to an alternative source of fuel and what benefits they look for.
What was the content of the Individual questions?
✔ Some general questions about the respondent’s background
✔ Only questions those were necessary to draw inferences and conclusions
✔ Questions where we knew the respondent would have true information
✔ Questions which were within the respondents experience
✔ Questions which would be easy to understand and interpret for the respondent.

What was the wording of the questions?


It was endeavored for the questions to be
✔ Simple
✔ Unambiguous
✔ Specific
✔ Mix of positive and negative statements to measure attitude.

Sampling Procedure
Target customer group: This study was aimed at people who are educated and are aware of
the upcoming alternate sources of fuels. The main target was users who preferred alternate
sources of fuel over the general fuels and are aware of their advantages.

Data Tabulation and Analysis


Since actual survey was not conducted so there was no data and analysis.

Sources of Data

Current Uses of Vegetable Oil


Currently, the largest uses of waste vegetable oil in the U.S. are for animal feed, pet food, and
cosmetics. Since 2002, an increasing number of European Union countries have prohibited

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the inclusion of waste vegetable oil from catering in animal feed. Waste cooking oils from
food manufacturing, however, as well as fresh or unused cooking oil, continues to be used in
animal feed.

Research Findings - Future Importance and Benefits


No net CO2 or greenhouse gas production
Plants use sunlight and photosynthesis to take carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the Earth's
atmosphere to make vegetable oil. The same CO2 is then put back after it is burned in an
engine. Thus vegetable oil does not increase the CO2 in the atmosphere, and does not
contribute to the problem of greenhouse gas. It is really a way of catching and storing solar
energy. It is a true renewable energy.

Burning fossil fuels releases sulphur dioxide (SO2) and other harmful air pollution. Because
vegetable oil has not been inside the earth for millions of years, it is not contaminated with
things like sulphur and burns much cleaner, even than ultra-low sulphur diesel. Burning fossil
fuels also contributes to the greenhouse gas problem.

Replacement of Fossil fuels


Vegetable oils have the potential to replace fossil fuels in the economy. Vegetable oils are the
basis of biodiesel, which can be used like conventional diesel.

The recent increase in world oil prices, and the growing awareness of the environmental
problems associated with the use of petroleum fuels, has led to the renewed interest on
biomass-based fuels. The motivations for using these fuels are twofold, its environmental
benefits and its impact on the economy. These fuels are non-toxic, renewable sources of
energy, which do not contribute to the net global carbon dioxide build-up. For a country that
heavily relies on imported petroleum oils for its energy needs, but that has an abundant
supply of alternative energy source, the use of these oils will certainly have a positive impact
on the country’s economy in terms of foreign reserves savings. With such incentives, the
need for further research based on locally available resources is both real and significant.

Safety
Vegetable oil is far less toxic than other fuels such as gasoline, petroleum-based diesel,
ethanol, or methanol, and has a much higher flash point (approximately 275-290 °C). The
higher flash point reduces the risk of accidental ignition.

Generation and storage


Technologies of hydrogen economy, batteries, compressed air energy storage, and flywheel
energy storage address the energy storage problem but not the source of primary energy.
Other technologies like fission power, fusion power, and solar power address the problem of
a source of primary energy but not energy storage. Vegetable oil addresses both the source of
primary energy and of energy storage. The cost and weight to store a given amount of energy
as vegetable oil is low compared to many of the potential replacements for fossil fuels.

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Electricity generation
Vegetable oil is a convenient safe way to store energy for transportation and is similar to the
way things have been done. For electricity generation these things are not so important. The
most important thing is cost for the electricity produced. The world coal reserves are far
larger than the world oil reserves. So replacing the coal used in power plants is not as urgent
as replacing the oil used for transportation. The motivation to use vegetable oil for power
generation is much less than for transportation. Other methods, like nuclear power, fusion
power, wind power and solar power, may provide cheaper electricity, so vegetable oil may
only be used in peaking power plants and small power plants, as diesel is limited to today.

Market of Biodiesels
In some countries, filling stations sell bio-diesel more cheaply than conventional diesel.

Availability of biodiesel around the World is increasing. It is estimated that by 2010 the
market for biodiesel will be 7.5 billion litres (2 billion US gallons) in the U.S and 9.5 billion
litres (2.5 billion US gallons) in Europe. Biodiesel currently has 3% of the diesel market in
Germany and is the number 1 alternative fuel. The German government has a Bio fuels
Roadmap in which they expect to reach 10% bio-fuels by 2010 with the diesel 10% coming
from fuel made from vegetable oil.

From 2005 to 2009 a number of types of vegetable oil have doubled in price. The rise in
vegetable oil prices is largely attributed to bio-fuel demand.

Attainment of Kyoto Protocol Targets


Much of the fuel price at the pump is due to fuel tax. Since vegetable oil (even as biodiesel)
does not contribute to greenhouse gas, governments may tax it much less than gasoline as
they have done with ethanol. This would help them reach Kyoto protocol targets.

Limitations
Vegetable oils have their own limitations to use in place of diesel due to their high viscosity.
The high viscosity results in poor atomization of the fuel when the oil is injected into the
combustion chamber of a compression ignition (CI) engine. This can lead to extended
ignition delay periods for initial combustion to commence and preparation, characterization
and testing of these fuels.

Consequently, there is a reduction in engine performance due to incomplete combustion of


the injected fuel particles.

Conclusion
The gradual move from oil has begun. Over the next 15 to 20 years we may see bio-fuels
providing a full 25 percent of the world's energy needs. While the move is good for reducing
greenhouse emissions, soaring oil prices have encouraged most countries to 'go green' by
switching to greater use of bio-fuels.

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More alternative energy sources are in research. Algaculture, form of aquaculture involving
the farming of species of algae could potentially produce far more oil per unit area. Results
from pilot algaculture projects using sterile CO2 from power plant smokestacks look
promising.

Genetic modifications to soyabeans are already being used. Genetic modifications and
breeding can increase vegetable oil yields.

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References
• Business Research Methods - Cooper & Schindler
• Research Methods for Business – Uma Sekaran
• en.wikipedia.org

Appendix
• Sample Survey Questionnaire

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Questionnaire
1) Which is the present source of fuel being used by you?
2) Do you know what an alternate source of fuel is?
3) Given an option would you try an alternate source of fuel?
4) Do you think that there is a realistic alternative fuel source?
5) Where do you think the future of oil (petroleum based) is headed?
6) Do you see our country completely breaking its dependence from oil?
7) Are you aware of any existing alternate sources of fuel?
8) Have you ever used any alternate sources of fuel?
9) Are you aware of the benefits of the alternate sources of fuel?
10) Do you think our country is ready to adopt alternate sources of fuel?
11) What benefits do you expect from the alternate sources of fuel?
i. Better mileage
ii.Pollution free
iii.Cheap
iv.Ease of availability
12) How far in the future do you estimate that people will completely change to an
alternative fuel source?
13) Is the transition possible or is it just an unobtainable goal?
14) How do you think that the change will affect the economy?
15) Do you see any side effects that might occur in any of the fuel sources?
16) Do you think that people would be willing to make the change?
17) Do you think that we are wasting time on finding an alternative fuel source?
18) Do you think we are spending too much of the national budget on this?
19) What would you say to the skeptics who believe that the switch is not possible?
20) Do you think that the big oil companies are willing to make the change?
21) Who will the changes benefit?
22) Do you think that this has been an issue for a while and that people have been putting it
aside?
23) What do you think it will take to make people to change their perspectives on oil?
24) Do you think that alternative fuel will be as costly as oil?
25) Do you think that alternative fuel will one day run out and we will have to look
somewhere else?
26) Do you think that the fuel crisis is cyclical and one day will occur again?

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