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Fast food waste and lithium trash could make big biofuel

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The authors write that a process like this could not only improve the practicality of biofuel as a fossil fuel alternative but could also offer a sustainable solution to the growing mounds of electronic, lithium waste.

What if grease from your favorite chicken place could be transformed into sustainable, green fuel using only waste from your laptop’s batteries? It sounds surreal, but it’s based in science.

Scientists have discovered a new way to create biofuel using these traditional waste products that would reduce fuel emissions while simultaneously promoting recycling of these potentially harmful materials.

What’s the news — In published Tuesday in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, a team of scientists proposed a new approach to creating biofuel that would up-cycle waste from lithium batteries at the same time.

These batteries, while synonymous with technology like smartphones and even electric cars, also have a fairly limited shelf-life and begin to internally degrade after a few years of charging cycles. While good for smartphone companies trying to sell more products, this means that there’s also a lot of lithium waste that can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.

The authors write that a process like this could not only improve the practicality of biofuel as a fossil fuel alternative but could also offer a sustainable solution to the growing mounds of electronic, lithium waste.

How does it work — Before the researchers could start experimenting with their biofuel formula, they had to first round-up discarded vegetable oil from local fast-food restaurants and homes. After straining the oil to remove any leftover food particles, they added a solution of methanol to improve the oils’ performance.

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