By Syed Umar Ariff
JOHOR BARU: Have cooking oil will travel.
At least, that is what 65 students from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Indonesia’s Universitas Tanjungpura are trying to prove on a 6,500km journey from Singapore to Laos which began on Sunday.
Yesterday, a convoy of two buses and two pick-up trucks — fuelled with biodiesel mainly produced from used cooking oil — was flagged off from UTM after departing from Changi Airport, Singapore.
This is UTM’s third bio-diesel expedition since 2009. Previously, palm oil-based biodiesel was used for the vehicles. The university’s selling point; the engines of these vehicles are not modified in any way to run on the fuel.
UTM Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Zaini Ujang said the students would gauge the efficiency of the fuel during the 15-day trip across Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Laos.
“The students will also help promote environmental awareness and study the effects of carbon emission using biodiesel,” Zaini said at a press conference.
The students will also learn about the process and cost of manufacturing biodiesel from used cooking oil at a plant in Hatyai, Thailand.
“One of our objectives is to learn about biodiesel plants. The cost to set up one is around RM100 million. Tonight (last night), the convoy is expected to take a break in Berseri, Perlis before entering Thailand.”
The convoy’s adviser, UTM chemical engineering faculty’s Associate Prof Dr Firdausi Razali said apart from researching the feasibility of cooking oil as a biofuel, the programme was also aimed at educating the public on recycling cooking oil.
“Not many people know that cooking oil can be recycled into something useful like biofuel. Most food-stall operators usually throw away the oil or sell them to be recycled into cooking oil again,” said Firdausi.
And, of course, cooking oil, as a biofuel, is expected to be cheaper than palm oil — another factor that they would look into, he added.