Finns turn festive fat into fuel for cars

As the Christmas festive season approaches, Finland’s chemical industry is urging people to support a campaign to turn left-over cooking fat into fuel.

The campaign, called Kinkkutemppu – “ham trick” – will collect leftover cooking fat from Finnish households and convert it into renewable diesel fuel.

fat into fuelThe fat left over from roasting a turkey or baking a ham produces enough renewable diesel to power an average family car for 2 miles. Image: pixabay-231781

The aim of the fat into fuel campaign is to promote awareness of ecological waste management and remind fellow Finns not to pour grease, oil, and animal fats down the drain.

The campaign will set up about 40 collection points throughout Finland to collect the left-over cooking fat and any proceeds will be given to charity.

Left-over fat from one turkey equals 2 miles in a car

According to Neste – one of the companies hosting the campaign – the waste fat from one oven-baked ham or one roasted turkey converts to enough fuel to power about 2 miles of driving in an average family car.

Oven-baked ham is the traditional Christmas dinner dish in Finland, and Neste say Finns eat over 15 million pounds of ham every Christmas, a fact that “makes the goal eminently attainable.”

The company says producing fuel in this way can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared with conventional diesel derived from fossil fuels.

Renewable, HVO diesel not the same as traditional biodiesel

The fat into fuel process that Neste uses creates high quality renewable diesel (also known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil or HVO), which is not to be confused with traditional biodiesel (also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester or FAME).

HVO or renewable diesel has the same chemical composition as fossil diesel. It is classed as an advanced biofuel, or second-generation biofuel.

HVO diesel is made primarily from waste and residues. Impurities are removed during production, and the remaining material is hydrotreated at high temperature. The result is a colourless, odourless fuel of an even quality.

Traditional, first-generation biodiesel of the FAME type, on the other hand, is made by esterifying vegetable oils or fats. This process does not suit the use of poor quality or impure raw materials, such as food waste and residues. Also, the quality of the end product varies, depending on the raw material used.

HVO renewable diesel gaining traction over FAME biodiesel

HVO diesel has several advantages over FAME, such as reduced NOx emissions, better storage stability and better cold properties.

HVO diesel can also be used in diesel engines without the blend limitations or the modifications required for FAME biodiesel. And, because it has a higher cetane number, it burns more cleanly and delivers more power.

Renewable diesel is also gaining traction in the air transport industry. Hamburg airport in Germany has started using Neste’s renewable diesel to help reduce the airport’s carbon footprint.

Following successful use of renewable diesel in some of its diesel-powered ground fleet, Hamburg airport is now going to switch its heavy duty vehicles – such as aircraft tugs and fire-fighting vehicles – over to renewable diesel.

During four months of tests, the airport found that the renewable diesel produced significantly less soot and slightly reduced consumption. It also performed better at engine starting and the vehicles required less frequent maintenance.