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Environment and Conservation
January 15, 2010

Research Project Will Explore Using Fish Oil as Fuel

A Memorial University research project will investigate the possibility of converting marine waste to an environmentally friendly biofuel. With assistance of $81,000 from the Newfoundland and Labrador Green Fund, Dr. Kelly Hawboldt, Associate Professor with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, will determine the feasibility of using fish oil as a blend with petroleum-based fuel for powering fish plants and marine vessels.

"In her research, Dr. Hawboldt will fill a gap in the current knowledge relating to the industrial process needed to transform the raw material available to a useful biofuel," said the Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation. "The research will determine if it is feasible to blend fish oil-derived biofuel with existing fuels to meet the energy requirements of fish plants or vessels by using small-scale processing systems. This project will complement the considerable amount of research and commercial application that fuels of this type have generated over the past decade."

Biofuels are fuels derived from plant material and residues such as agricultural crops, waste from animal processing, or by-products from agricultural or forestry initiatives. In cases where an engine is flexible in terms of fuel quality and a lower quality biofuel oil can be used, the oil from the processing of vegetables and animals can be directly used for power generation and heating. There are lower emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other toxins throughout the production, use and disposal of these biofuels.

"There is significant potential in this province for animal and, specifically, marine waste to be converted to biofuels," said Dr. Hawboldt. "This research will go towards making biofuels more feasible in the province. The cost and transportation of fuel is challenging for many small communities and companies, and the onsite generation of an alternative fuel is both economically and environmentally advantageous."

While the total reductions of GHGs will depend on the type of conversion technology used, as well as the species of fish processed, 13-74 per cent reductions are possible. Furthermore, all other regulated emissions such as suphur dioxide and particulate matter can potentially decrease by 10 to 50 per cent with biofuel use.

"The outcome of this project has the potential to dramatically decrease fuel costs in remote areas for both plants and fishing vessels, a significant factor for rural parts of our province," said Minister Johnson. "Due to the geographical distribution of the raw material sources, some of the most attractive options for fish biofuel in the province are for on-site generation, as heating oil for on-site boilers or in the surrounding community, or as a diesel blend for local marine vessels."

The other members of Dr. Hawboldt's research team are: Dr. Robert Helleur, Professor of Chemistry, Memorial University; Dr. Michael Pegg, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Head of the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science, Dalhousie University; and Heather Manuel, Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development, Marine Institute.

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Media contacts:

Melony O'Neill
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575, 689-0928
Dr. Kelly Hawboldt
Associate Professor
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Memorial University of Newfoundland

2010 01 15                      10:30 a.m.

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