Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Producing your own biodiesel

Produce your own biodiesel

You may need a pollution prevention and control permit or waste management licence if you produce your own biodiesel. See the page in this guideline: Do you need a permit or licence to produce biofuel?

There are two ways of producing biodiesel using waste or virgin vegetable oil:

  • Chemical production using transesterification - where the oil is heated, filtered and combined with an alcohol (usually methanol) and a catalyst. The mixture will separate producing biodiesel and a by-product, glycerol.
  • Physical production - where the oil is heated to melt the fat and remove water. It is then filtered and blended with hydrocarbons to alter the cetane rating (how easily a fuel ignites and how fast it will burn).

Store and use hazardous chemicals safely

When producing biodiesel you will use potentially hazardous chemicals such as methanol, an organic solvent. Organic solvents are a type of volatile organic compound, which can cause significant air and water pollution and land contamination.

You must not release methanol into the environment. If substantial quantities of methanol are released you should report the pollution incident as soon as it happens to the UK wide Pollution Hotline on Tel 0800 80 70 60.

Solvents emissions

If you make biodiesel for your own personal use you should follow the advice from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE: Domestic production of biodiesel – health and safety warning

Manage by-products correctly

If you manufacture biodiesel you will produce glycerol as a by-product.

Contact your environmental regulator to find out if the glycerol you produce is classed as waste.

Contact your environmental regulator

If the glycerol you produce is waste, you must only send it to a Waste Incineration Directive (WID) compliant plant to be burned. See our guideline: Waste incineration

If you dispose of glycerol then you must also follow your duty of care for waste. See our guides:

Duty of care – your waste responsibilities

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

SEPA: Guidance for small scale biodiesel manufacture

Quality protocol for making biodiesel from waste cooking oil in Northern Ireland

The Environment Agency, the NIEA and the Waste and Resources Action Programme have created a quality protocol for biodiesel produced from waste cooking oil and rendered animal fats. If you follow the protocol you can produce a high-quality biodiesel which you can sell without following waste management controls. For example, if it is not classed as a waste, you do not need to transport it using a waste carrier or with a waste transfer note, making it easier to sell your biodiesel.

GOV.UK: Biodiesel Quality Protocol

Quality standards for biofuels

You must meet quality standards to sell your fuel in countries within the European Union. These standards apply to biofuel and blends containing biofuel. For example, the standard EN14214 specifies the requirements and test methods for biodiesel produced for use in diesel engines.

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) promotes standards for the safety of workers and consumers and to protect the environment.

CEN: Search for European Standards

Further information

Contact your environmental regulator

In this Guideline

What are biofuels?

Where you can buy biofuels

Producing your own biodiesel

Producing your own bioethanol or biogas

Do you need a permit or authorisation to produce biofuel?

Storing and transporting biofuel

Biofuels for transport further information

Biofuels environmental legislation

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