JOHOR BAHARU, June 3 – Universiti Teknologi Malaysia today introduced a mobile mini biodiesel reactor, the latest invention by the university in efforts to boost the people’s understanding on the importance and usage of biodiesel. Biodiesel Expedition 2014 director Khairul Iman Khiruzzaki said the reactor developed in two months has the capacity to generate 15 litres of biodiesel alternative fuel, known as B5, from used cooking oil in two hours. The second year Bioprocess Chemical Engineering student said the reactor, the first of its kind in Malaysia, was developed as a continuity to the “Go Green, Go Global” programme, which promotes biodiesel usage, an initiative started by the university in 2009.
“Nineteen undergraduates were involved in the invention of the mini reactor. It is hoped that the invention will provide more exposure and will rekindle interest among more undergraduates to take up the engineering field,” he told reporters at the university in Skudai, near here. The undergraduates were first and second year students from the chemical engineering and petroleum engineering and renewable energy faculties, he said. The 22-year-old Khairul said such reactors are already available in the market but on a bigger scale and are being used mainly by factories, while the prototype developed at a cost of RM15,000 was more suitable to be used by small and medium enterprises.
However, the mini reactor was only a prototype for now and will be used for research purposes and for demonstrations in schools and for the public. Chemical Engineering Faculty senior lecturer Dr Norzita Ngadi said they have plans to work with the private sector to develop mini reactors for commercial use in future. She said such awareness programme must be organised more often as many students, particularly at primary and secondary levels, still do not know what is biodiesel and its usage. This came to light from the university’s visits to primary and secondary schools to disseminate information on the alternative fuel, said Norzita, who is also the adviser to the undergraduates who developed the reactor. Todate, UTM has organised visits to eight countries, including China, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam, to explain the importance and usage of biodiesel, she added.