Fuels derived from vegetable oils, animal fat and waste oil have generated research and commercial applications in the past decade. In fish processing plants, the use of waste fish oil in biodiesel has gained attention. The provinces of B.C., N.S., and most recently Environment Canada here in Newfoundland and Labrador have either conducted, are in the process of conducting an assessment of waste fish oil for use as biodiesel, or produce biodiesel from fish oil.
Biodiesel has a number of advantages over petroleum based diesel; utilizes waste from processing plant, overall lower emissions of greenhouse gases and most other toxins (excluding nitrogen oxides) over life cycle of fuel production, use, and disposal.
The challenges are the heterogeneity of fish waste, remoteness of fish processing plants in NL, and fish oil is high in free fatty acids (FFA). The remoteness of the plants means that producing the biodiesel for export is likely not feasible. Further, the high FFA content and high rate of degradation of the fish oil exaggerates the export problem. High FFA content translates to an extra pre-treatment step. The most likely option for fish biodiesel is on-site production for blend in the diesel engine for energy.
There are two major benefits to processing the waste to remove the oil:
Reduction in the organic load in the wastewater discharge to the marine environment;
Reduction in emission of toxic and greenhouse gases.
We are currently doing a life cycle analysis comparing biodiesel from fish oil in the plants generator to straight diesel use to determine:
Economic viability of production of biodiesel at the plant; and
Decrease in organic loading and in gaseous emissions.