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The waste vegetable oil from Sharwood’s poppadom factory in Cheshire is converted into ‘e-diesel’ and is being used by the 50 strong lorry fleet, after local scientist, Stephen Whittaker, convinced the company that used vegetable oil could be turned into the diesel substitute.

‘E-diesel’ produces far lower emissions, burning more completely and faster than traditional diesel, and is free of aromatic compounds, the substances that give fuel its ‘cetane’ rating. Sharwood’s fuel is refined locally using catalysts and reagents to convert the 1.5 tonnes of vegetable oil used weekly in the manufacture of the popular Indian snack.

“The e-diesel has enormous potential, not just from an environmental perspective but because in terms of performance, it appears to offer a very sound alternative to petroleum diesel”, said Marco del Pizzo, factory manager at Sharwood’s.

The current method of producing ‘e-diesel’, or biodiesel as it is sometimes known, is cheap and since 1999 has been greatly perfected, after research by Fox and Ginosar developed a system using a catalyst fixed in a solution of used oil and an alcohol, such as ethanol (see related story ).

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