Gas stations pumping out 'gutter oil diesel' at an increasing rate

From next year, it's expected that all of the city's collected "gutter oil" will be able to find customers in the form of a hybrid biodiesel known as B5.

The number of gas stations in Shanghai offering a hybrid fuel mixed with biodiesel made from "gutter oil" increased to 40 by the end of August, the city’s food safety commission said on Thursday.

The oil, so called because it is sometimes dumped in gutters and drains, is used cooking oil from restaurants and homes.

Sinopec, the company selling the fuel, expects to expand offering the fuel to at least 200 gas stations by the end of this year, meaning that all of the city’s annual 30,000 tons of biodiesel made from gutter oil, known as BD100, will be consumed.

About 1 million vehicles have pumped 54 million liters of the fuel, known as B5 biodiesel, at gas stations in Shanghai since October 30 last year, after the first gas station began offering the fuel at the end of August, the commission said.

The B5 biodiesel is a combination of 95 percent regular diesel and 5 percent BD100. The government assured the public that it features almost the same performance and consumption as regular diesel.

Lu Wei, vice general manager of Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co, said B5 biodiesel has become increasingly popular among consumers, which shows that its quality is being recognized.

“At first the sales volume of B5 biodiesel accounted for only 10 to 20 percent of all diesel sold at our gas stations, but now the percentage has increased to 35 percent,” he said.

Another factor would be the lower price of this new biodiesel. Lu’s company made a deal with the government to sell the fuel 0.3 yuan (4 US cents) cheaper than regular diesel for every liter, with 0.24 yuan subsidized by the government and 0.06 yuan from their own pocket.

The company said it now has the capability of delivering 600,000 tons of B5 biodiesel to gas stations in Shanghai annually.

The biodiesel mostly serves container truck drivers, but the government is looking for new outlets for it.

Currently 50 sanitation trucks in suburban Fengxian District use the biodiesel regularly, up from 20 in October last year, and the government said it’s experimenting with using biodiesel in freighters transporting residents’ waste.

It was announced previously that over 100 buses in the city’s public transportation system also use the biodiesel, but officials said bus companies are not considered a major consumer because more and more buses will run on electricity.

Tang Jiafu, deputy director of the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau, said the city collects about 150 tons of gutter oil every day, and in the first eight months about 36,000 tons was collected.

Tang said much of the original oil is inevitably wasted during the refinement processes.

Up until now, about 40,000 food and catering businesses in Shanghai are under government supervision for the separation of swill oil from water and reporting and delivering the oil to collectors.

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