“Yellow grease” isn’t waste
Vishal Shah and colleagues estimate US restaurants generate about 25 billion gallons (94.6 billion litres) of waste cooking oil each week. The waste oil, marketed as “yellow grease”, long has been used in animal feed, with researchers exploring new applications such as biodiesel fuel.
The researchers from Dowling College
in Oakdale, NY (US), say it is possible to transform waste cooking oil into inexpensive raw material for producing unusual biosurfactants with uses ranging from therapeutic cosmetics that regenerate damaged skin, to controlling algae blooms in lakes and ponds.
“We have successfully demonstrated the use of restaurant waste oil as a potential low-cost lipid feedstock for sophorolipid production,” the researchers report. Sophorolipids
have a range of applications, including naturally derived ingredients in therapeutic cosmetics; germicidal solutions for washing fruits and vegetables; and anti-algal agents for environmental cleanups, the report notes.