At the beginning of this academic year Dubai College has taken an exciting step towards reducing their carbon footprint and their impact on the air quality of Dubai by starting to use biodiesel in their school buses.
In 2010, Dubai’s Department of Petroleum Affaires granted permission to Neutral Fuels for the first licensed biofuels facility in the entire GCC. They have pioneered a complete closed loop recycling scheme in which waste cooking oil from Dubai’s many restaurants, is chemically converted in Dubai into clean highest quality, European standard EN14214 biodiesel for use in trucks, buses, and generators.
Additionally, each year Neutral Fuels hosts a few university undergraduate interns, who have a chance over an extended period to advance their knowledge and understanding. This year, one of these interns was Andreas Hodgson, a recent student of Dubai College, who during his placement raised the possibility of Neutral Fuels supplying Dubai College.
Inspired by the interest shown by students and teachers, Mr. Feilder CEO and Chairman of Neutral Fuels explained that in addition to the obvious environmental benefits, the use of biodiesel by school buses injects real world examples into a number of educational areas and so will be working with DC to provide educational experiences for our students.
Biodiesel is created by reacting the fatty acid molecules of vegetable cooking oil with a potassium or sodium catalyst in the presences of methanol and heat. This produces Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) and a crude glycerol by-product. The two must be separated and purified to result in a biodiesel comprising over 96.5% FAME and less than 20 parts per million of free glycerol.
During 2014, Neutral Fuels hosted visits to their biodiesel factory, showing students and teachers first hand examples of the practical and industrial applications of the chemical experiments and techniques they perform in their school laboratory.
Today’s students are increasingly aware of the relationship between greenhouse gases and climate change, but often find it challenging to relate this to their own life and surroundings. The use of biofuels in their school buses made from local waste allows teachers to demonstrate the connection between man-made carbon footprint and the environment. Using internet based tools, it is then possible for students to calculate the carbon savings equivalent of using this fuel, which often amounts to a truly significant number.
Biodiesel may be made from a number of different sources, all of them similar to the original raw materials of crude oil – namely animals and plants. The greatest difference is that while crude oil takes many millions of years to be formed, biodiesel can be produced within 24 hours in a factory which effectively simulates the underground heat and chemical processes. Students learn about ancient and current geological processes and how they have created today’s fossil fuels and tomorrow’s biofuels.
Neutral Fuels biodiesel is made from selected waste materials. Over years of careful research and development, the company has found that the most efficient process for biodiesel production uses high quality waste vegetable oils. The quality of these waste oils has a remarkable relationship with how healthy the oils are for their human consumers, with the best waste oils being low in trans fats and low in saturated fats, where the oil has not been overused in the restaurant kitchen. Students can learn about healthy eating of vegetable oils, and how to make better eating choices.
Neutral Fuels continues with more pioneering research in Dubai and has been able to produce additional products derived from the by-products of these same raw waste materials. The company recently started commercial testing of a natural, biodegradable degreaser, which is considerably more environmentally friendly and safer to use than existing products. Further research has produced a shampoo additive, a furnace fuel, and a natural sweetener.
Mr. Feilder says he is looking forward to these new products adding to the wide range of sustainable offerings “Made in Dubai” and being more involved with Dubai College.
- Dubai College