Development of a complete economical recycling process for reuse of used fats in Biodiesel production.

LIFE97 ENV/F/000178

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Romain FILLIÈRES
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Project description:


Used frying oils (UFO) are a waste produced mainly by restaurants and catering activities. Today this waste is collected mainly to be used as an ingredient in animal feed. When they are not collected, the waste oils are spilled into water and have a negative impact on the environment. Finding an alternative outlet for used frying oils (UFO), securing their collect and finding an alternative raw material to biodiesel production is the interest of this project. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced mainly from vegetable oils which are very sensitive to price fluctuations. The development of biodiesel is favoured by the EU and in several Member States because of its positive environmental impact, especially with regard to CO2 reduction. R&D activities on the use of UFO for the production of biodiesel (vegetable oil methyl ester used for energetic purposes) have been carried out in Europe and the United States but until now no large-scale operations have been put in place. With this project, Novaol, one of the leading European Biodiesel companies, extrapolated all their know-how on the transformation of neat rape seed oil in biodiesel to the use of an alternative waste raw material: used frying oils and sewer grease concentrates.


The aim of the project was to check the possibility of putting in place a transformation “filière” of used fried oils in biodiesel, which covered the existing ways of oil collection and also assessed the quality of the biodiesel produced. The main tasks involved: - improving the system for collecting UFO, with a case study in the Lorraine region; - Developing an adequate process for the pre-treatment of UFO (filtration, decantation, concentration, drying); - Start up of a pilot plant; - Quality check of the final product.


The realisations done in the framework of the project have shown that the project is technically and economically feasible: - it is possible to organise the supply of UFO into a biodiesel plant; - it is possible to use those UFO as a raw material for the production of biodiesel and to market the corresponding product. The experience on the production process can be applied to other biodiesel plants for the construction of new plants or the modification of existing ones. However, in order to broaden the developments, there would need to be clearer actions/legislation regarding the situation of used fried oils collection and usage at national and EU level. During the project a lot of experience has been gathered in terms of analytical control, engine test and large scale monitored use of biodiesel produced from UFO as heating fuel. However, especially with regard to the use of biodiesel from UFO in engines, more field tests needs to be performed to gain the full confidence of the users. It is believed that the use of UFO downgrades the quality of biodiesel, in particular with regard to the stability of oxydation. At the time of writing, the European Committee for Normalisation was working on a European standard for biodiesel. Furthermore, biodiesel is only viable when it is exempted from the excise duties applicable to gasoil. At the time of writing, in France, the rules for the defiscalization define biodiesel as a product made from plain vegetable oils which de facto excludes the possibility to use UFO in biodiesel production. This has made it impossible to develop the project in France. In the frame of the project, two industrial plants (Bruck in Austria and Livorno in Italy) were modified to adapt their production process to integrate UFO as a raw material. The case study of UFO collection systems was not carried out in Lorraine as originally planned but instead NOVAOL did a comparative study on systems in different countries of the EU, particularly in France, Italy and Austria. This was an improvement in terms of giving the project a more European dimension.


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Energy - Supply


comparison‚  vegetable oil‚  waste use‚  recycling‚  edible fat‚  biofuel

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Development of new legislation

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator NOVAOL France
Type of organisation International enterprise
Description NOVAOL is a subsidiary of the Eridania Beghin-Say Group which produces and markets biodiesel. It has industrial plants in several European countries (France, Italy, Austria).
Partners Novaol Italy (IT); Ölmühle Bruck (AU); Centre de recherche Cereol, Budapest (HU)


Project reference LIFE97 ENV/F/000178
Duration 01-FEB-1997 to 30-DEC -1999
Total budget 2,086,255.50 €
EU contribution 446,120.95 €
Project location Lorraine(France)


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