Making Biodiesel Better With Waste Shrimp Shells

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In a study to be published in August, Chinese researchers have found that waste shrimp shells can be converted into a material that makes biodiesel production faster, cheaper and more environmentally-friendly.

All biodiesel production requires the use of a catalyst to change the raw plant or animal oils into fuel. Currently, most biodiesel producers use catalysts that are rendered unusable in the process and generate a huge amount of wastewater.

To address these concerns, the researchers went about trying to create a better catalyst from a readily available waste material. By subjecting the shrimp shells to a rather simple process involving heat and potassium fluoride, the researchers discovered they can be turned from their rather humble fishy origins into an advanced catalyst.

The resulting catalyst can be easily reused, is much less expensive and is safer than traditional catalysts. As the researchers remark in their study, shrimp shells are an excellent raw material for the preparation of catalysts due to their wide availability, low price, and favorable biodegradability.

Not only are the shrimp shell catalysts advantageous for the above reasons, they also rival traditional catalysts in conversion efficiency, yet work faster in many cases. After laboratory testing the researchers found that the shrimp shell catalysts converted canola oil to biodiesel at an efficiency of 89% in just about 3 hours.

Source: EurekAlert

Image Credit: lsgcp‘s Flickr photostream. Used under a Creative Commons License.

 

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.