Find out about the biodiesel production process.
How does the biodiesel process work?
Biodiesel is used as a diesel substitute for road transport vehicles.
It can be produced using either chemical or physical production routes, with either waste or virgin cooking oil.
Chemical production uses a process called trans-esterification.
Oil is heated, filtered and either methanol or ethanol is added, together with a small amount of sodium hydroxide catalyst.
The mixture separates in a settling tank and the by-product glycerol is removed.
Physical production involves the physical blending of ingredients. In a typical process, oil is heated to melt the fat and remove water, then filtered and blended with hydrocarbons to modify the cetane rating.
Our quality protocol clarifies when biodiesel is no longer defined as a waste. This means it can be used without the need for further waste management controls.
If you are a biodiesel manufacturer you will also produce glycerol as a waste product. This material is likely to contain unreacted chemicals, such as methanol. Operators of Low Impact Installations must ensure that they meet the waste criterion or they will be expected to apply for an Opra-based bespoke permit.
The glycerol should be sent to an appropriately licensed or permitted waste facility for beneficial use.
Importing or Exporting Waste Cooking Oil
If you import or export waste you need to be aware that shipments of waste are subject to a range of regulatory controls. If being moved for recovery it may depend on the type of waste.
Waste edible fats and oils of animal or vegetable origin (e.g. used cooking oils) may fall under ‘Green List Controls’. These are the lowest level of control and only ever apply to some (but not all) imports or exports of non-hazardous waste for recovery. Where these controls apply exporters do not need our permission before moving the waste but other requirements need to be complied with.
If you produce more than 2500 litres of biodiesel per year, HM Customs and Excise allow you to account for Excise duty at a lower rate. To register you need Form EX 103.