Innovation That Matters

Used cooking oil congeals, clogs up pipes and cause 'fatbergs' | Photo source Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash

A new way to dispose of used cooking oil

Food & Drink

A new product solidifies cooking oil, so that it can be easily disposed of without clogging drains

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Spotted: You may have heard that you should never pour used cooking oil down the drain. This is because it congeals and clogs up pipes and sewer systems. In extreme cases, it can lead to fatbergs – an ossified deposit of oil, grease and other substances, like wet wipes, which should not be flushed. In 2015, a record-breaking 10-tonne fatberg broke a sewer in Chelsea in the UK,  costing £400,000 to fix. Now, a new product promises to make gunked up pipes a thing of the past. 

FryAway is a plant-based powder that transforms liquid oil to a solid that can then be easily scooped into the rubbish. The company’s founder, Laura Lady, previously working in marketing and product development for children’s toys. She had heard about a similar product in Japan and decided to develop her own solution. Lady conducted research into ways to solidify oil and hit upon hydrogenation.

In commercial hydrogenation, fats, such as vegetable oils, which are liquid at room temperature, are combined hydrogen, usually at temperatures of around 60 degrees celsius and in the presence of a catalyst, such as nickel. This is how saturated fats, such as margarine, which are solid at room temperature, are made. FryAway, however, uses a plant-based hydrogenated fatty acid. Users simply stir the FryAway powder into the used cooking oil while it is still hot, and a reaction occurs which solidifies the oil.

Not only does FryAway make it easier to dispose of used cooking oil, it also makes it easier to clear up pots and pans used for frying. “Once the mixture cools down to room temperature, you start seeing that transformation from liquid to a gelatinous form to a waxy, hard substance that can then be tossed in the trash,” Lady said. “As it solidifies, it will also trap all of that gunk and debris that’s left behind when you’re frying, so that all of that comes out of the pan in one easy step.”

FryAway is a great example of a product that aims to both make life (or at least kitchen clean-up) easier, while at the same time reducing pollution by decreasing the risk of expensive and damaging fatbergs. It joins such kitchen waste disposal innovations as an in-sink composter and a freezing technique that extends the life of frozen foods.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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