Ramen soup is used as fuel in Japan

In Japan, a shipping company started using biofuels from leftover ramen, and food outlets have accumulated tons of leftovers that have proven useful, according to National geographic.

The shipping company Nishida Shoun, based in southwestern Japan, has found an additional source of biofuel: based on ramen soup. Residues rich in fat are mixed with fuel made from used vegetable oil.

The idea came up by accident: in 2013, at one of the events where the prospects for fuel from oil were discussed, the head of the company, Masumi Nishida, was approached by a restaurant chain administrator who asked if the leftover soup could be used. Catering establishments have to pay for their disposal.

A specialty of ramen noodles is meat or fish broth. The richest option is tonkatsu: it is cooked on pork bones, fat and cartilage. Nishida, 74, suggested that these organics might be beneficial and developed a device to separate the fat from the broth.

“In the beginning, I didn't have any knowledge of chemistry; everything was done by trial and error. But when the environmental situation became a serious problem, my developments turned out to be useful,” said Nishida.

Biodiesel has been produced from waste frying oil for a long time, but fat, unlike vegetable oil, quickly solidifies. Nishida came up with a way to solve this problem by eliminating certain elements during refining. His company currently buys grease and waste oil from about 2,000 restaurants: the first filtration takes place there since the unit developed by Nishida is easy to use and can be placed in any kitchen.

The innovation has been beneficial to both parties: instead of paying for recycling, the catering company receives money for waste, and Nishida Shoun at its own plant in Fukuoka prefecture produces 3,000 to 7,000 litres of fuel daily, which meets the fuel needs of more than 40% of 170 vehicles in the company's fleet.

Tags: Biogas, Asia, renewables, investments, gasoline, diesel, ecology, decarbonisation, innovations, technologies,

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