Finnish Research Centre Develops Biodiesel from Vietnamese Catfish

Renewable sources of energy are now a global necessity as fossil fuels dwindle, and biodiesel produced from fish waste is a promising source of alternative fuel. The ENERFISH project, which runs from 2008 to 2011 and is coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, is working with a Vietnamese catfish processing plant to determine the best way to produce biodiesel from the plant’s fish wastes. A biodiesel production plant will be built next door to the fish processing factory, enabling the technology to be commercialised quickly.
With EU funding of more than EUR 2.5 million, the three-year ENERFISH project aims to boost the production of green and renewable energy sources and increase business in developing countries at the same time.
The consortium plans to build a carbon-dioxide-based cooling system and a specialised freezing system that will convert the fish waste into biodiesel. Small- and medium-sized enterprises from Finland, France, Germany, the UK and Vietnam will be involved.
“Using waste from the fish-processing industry as a renewable energy source can be turned into a highly profitable business operation,” says Aulis Ranne, senior research scientist at VTT.
“The project partners of ENERFISH aim to generate significant business during the project’s lifetime, and project execution is based on technology tested in a basic research process.”
South-east Asia and China are the biggest producers of farmed fish in the world, but both areas could benefit from more advanced technology, including state-of-the-art cooling techniques. The proposed cooling and freezing systems will be built at the Hiep Thanh Seafood JSC fish processing plant in southern Vietnam. The consortium believes that energy savings of 20% could be achieved by the plant when it begins using this new equipment.
The first step in the project will be building demonstration equipment to prove its safety and functionality; funding for this will come from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Hiep Thanh Seafood JSC plant currently produces 120 000 kg of fish waste every day, which is sold to the feed industry. Several other Vietnamese fish producers are already making biodiesel from catfish waste; however it is often too expensive to make because other companies buying up fish waste and exporting it for feed have driven prices up.
“We became interested in the project because it was an opportunity for us to take into use the latest technology and to reduce environment hazards caused by the production,” says Mr Nguyen Van Phan, president and general manager of Hiep Thanh Seafood JSG.

ENERFISH is supported by the EU mainly because it satisfies the EU’s policy of promoting the sharing of new technologies with developing countries and employing local production resources.

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