McDonalds in Toronto, Canada has contributed its used frying oil to the University of Toronto’s physical and environmental research departments. This team of researchers have successfully converted a liter of used kitchen oil to 420 mL of liquid resin that is compatible for use in a 3d printer.
They were able to successfully “print”, in this case several butterflies, had a stable structure that did not melt above room temperature nor crumble.
The research began on the basis that the fat molecules of frying oil have the same characteristics as those of a commercial resin used in 3d printing. The team utilized a one-step chemical process that transformed the used kitchen oil into a resin that could be use in a 3d printer. Major benefits of these new products are the benefit to the environment as well as cost.
As stated by Professor Andre Simpson at the University of Toronto, “If plastics are a problem, it is because nature has not evolved to process chemicals produced by man. As we use what is essentially a natural product – in this case fats from cooking oil – nature can take care of it much better. ” He also said, “Microbes love fat, they like to eat it so they make a good job of decomposition.”
The 3d printed objects created with resin from recycled kitchen oil are environmentally friendly due to the fact that they decompose as an organic substance would. Traditionally, plastic resins used in 3d printers do not decompose, but it was discovered that recycled kitchen oil resin started losing 20% of its composition after two weeks of being buried in the ground.
The resin made from used kitchen oil costs approximately $ 300 per ton while a commercial resin derived from fossil fuels, utilizing a much more complex production process, can climb up to $ 525 per liter.
This could be the start of a new use for used kitchen oil which is more economical and also addresses the issue of the environmental hazards of kitchen oil waste.