Biodiesel can be used as an alternative fuel to traditional or ‘fossil diesel’. Biodiesel from used cooking oil and waste cooking oil is carbon neutrality, a significant advantage. Also, biodiesel is rapidly biodegradable and completely non-toxic.

As the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, the search for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional fossil fuels has become increasingly crucial. One such alternative is biodiesel, and an exciting avenue of biodiesel production is through used cooking oil. This article delves into the potential of converting used cooking oil into biodiesel, the benefits it offers, and its positive environmental impact.

Biodiesel is an environmentally friendly, renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic alternative to transport fuel that has received a lot of attention around the globe. It can be made from various feedstocks containing fatty acids, such as animal fats and nonedible oils. The transesterification process is commonly employed for its formation. The best catalysts for biodiesel production are those that are heterogeneous.

The Power of Used Cooking Oil

WCO (waste cooking oil) and UCO (used cooking oil) refer to vegetable oils used in cooking but are not viable for further use in food production. There are many sources of used cooking oil, including commercial, industrial, and domestic. Used cooking oil is a potentially problematic waste stream that requires proper management. If used cooking oil is not properly disposed of, it can pose a problem.

The properties of cooking oils are altered during frying. Total Polar Compounds are formed by repeated frying. These compounds can cause hypertension, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the quality of vegetable oils during frying. UCO can also be disposed of in the drains, which can cause ecological damage and pose a threat to the environment.

The Hazards of Used Cooking Oil

It is dangerous to use recycled cooking oil for cooking. However, it is not environmentally friendly to dispose of used cooking oil. It is best to use it industrially, namely to make biodiesel. In recent years, it has become more important to find an alternative source of energy that is sustainable and friendly for the environment.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has set a 25 percent limit on Total Polar Compounds to protect consumer health. Beyond that, vegetable oil should not be used in cooking. FSSAI launched Repurposed Cooking Oil (RUCO) to create an environment that allows the collection and conversion used cooking oil (UCO) into biodiesel.

These oils and fats can be reused to reduce the burden on the government for disposing of waste and maintaining public sewers. They also help lower the cost of producing biodiesel.

The Environmental and Economic Benefits

India’s most popular fuel is diesel, which is made from crude oil. India is 85 percent dependent on imports for this reason. India used 72.7 million tonnes of diesel (or 8,000 crore litres) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021. If diesel from fossil oil is combined with a combustible diesel, imports could be decreased.

India has recently experimented with doping diesel containing a small amount of biodiesel from used cooking oil in an effort to reduce import dependence and carbon emissions.

To begin with, biodiesel from used cooking oil (UCO) is being used in diesel to make 7 percent. The supply of this fuel has been started recently.

The country consumes approximately 23 million tonnes of edible oils annually. Three million tonnes of the oil are thrown away after being used, and it is known as used cooking oil. It is possible to produce 222 crore litres annually of UCO, but there is no infrastructure for collecting waste or used cooking oil,” Indian Oil Corporation Chairman S M Vaidya stated.

Opportunity for Oil Companies

The oil companies launched an expression of interest (EoI), seeking biodiesel made with UCO. They offered a fixed price for five years and a guarantee for ten years.

At the industry level, there have been 30 LOIs (by IOC and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd HCCL), which will provide 26.62 million litres of biodiesel over the next few years.

Indian Oil Corporation also issued 23 LOIs to biodiesel plants, with a total capacity 22.95 million litres. According to a statement, IOC received 51 kilolitres UCO-Biodiesel from its Tikrikalan terminal at Delhi as per this initiative,” the company stated.

Biodiesel contributes less to global warming than other fossil fuels since the carbon in oil and fat is mainly from carbon dioxide in the air. Diesel engines operating on biodiesel have lower carbon monoxide emissions, unburned hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and air toxics than when operated on petroleum-based diesel fuel.


The land used to produce edible oil for biodiesel feedstock is not the same as the land used for food production. The price of vegetable and edible oils is often higher than that of petro diesel. Production of biodiesel from used cooking oil reduces the costs significantly. As biodiesel feedstock, it is important to prioritize the nonedible and waste cooking oils.

Biodiesel has superior emissions, flash point, lubricity, and cetane numbers to fossil diesel fuel, but without significant differences in the heat of combustion. Biodiesel also returns approximately 90% more energy than the energy used to make it.

In some cases, biodiesel can be mixed with diesel to power any conventional compression ignition engine. No modifications are required. Biodiesel has been incorporated in many countries around the globe, especially in advanced countries such as Brazil, France, and the USA. It is used in various proportions with diesel because of its benefits, including being renewable in nature, low price, and potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. India could also consume 41.14% less diesel fuel if it used resources such as waste cooking oil or other bio-wastes for its biodiesel production.

Suggested Reading

  • Rummi Devi Saini; “Conversion of Waste Cooking Oil to Biodiesel” International Journal of Petroleum Science and Technology; Volume 11, Number 1(2017), pp. 9-21
  • Kulkarni MG, Dalai AK; “Waste cooking oil an economical source for biodiesel: a review”. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. 2006;45:2901-13.

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