Researchers Convert Used McDonald’s Fryer Oil to Biodegradable 3D Printing Resin
Researchers at the University of Toronto say they’ve converted used fryer oil from a McDonald’s fast food restaurant into a biodegradable 3D printing resin.
The announcement is one of 10 bioplastics innovations that Biofuels Digest profiles in a recent survey article.
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“The reason plastics are a problem is that nature hasn’t evolved to handle human-made chemicals,” said André Simpson, a professor at U of T’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, in an interview with 3D Printing Media. “Because we’re using what is essentially a natural product—in this case fats from cooking oil—nature can deal with it much better.”
Simpson and his team came up with the approach after they “noticed molecular similarities between commercial resins and those found in cooking oils,” Biofuels Digest writes. “The team developed a one-step process and converted one litre of used fryer oil into 420 millilitres of resin. They then used the resin to print a 3D butterfly with good resolution. When buried, the material is quickly broken down in soil.”
The industry digest’s top-ten list of circular economy prospects also includes:
- Fast fashion chain H&M planning to introduce dyes made from coffee and faux leather produced from wine waste;
- Researchers at India’s Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Bhavnagar, Gujarat deriving a fertilizer component from human hair;
- A Finnish consortium that produced yarn using nanoparticles from crab shells and seaweed;
- Bottled water titan Perrier investing €1 million in three start-ups that it hopes will help it deliver more sustainable packaging by 2025, including a company in Africa that “produces bio-based and biodegradable plastic from agricultural waste and emphasizes job creation for women”;
- A company in Georgia producing certified compostable produce bags that could represent a biodegradable alternative to petrochemical plastics;
- UK researchers developing a new way to recycle plant-based plastics;
- Two entrepreneurs in India introducing sanitary napkins made from kenaf stems that contain no petro-plastics and take six to eight months to biodegrade;
- A commercial-scale green hydrogen plant recently announced in Belgium;
- A national network of hydrogen filling stations taking shape in Switzerland.