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Fuel your car with … prawn power!

shrimp-cocktailAhh, we’ve written about so many “next-generation” transport fuel sources — corn, soybeans, used cooking oil, switchgrass, algae, jatropha — we thought we’d heard them all. Then along comes the news that scientists in China are researching ways to boost biodiesel power with … wait for it … shrimp shells.

Their study, published in the journal Energy & Fuels, finds that the shells from prawns make an effective, reusable and eco-friendly catalyst to speed up the chemical processes that convert plant oils into biodiesel.

The shells could prove a better alternative than other commonly used catalysts, as they helped convert 89 per cent of canola oil into biodiesel in just three hours, the scientists report. Better still, unlike other catalysts, the shrimp shells can be used repeatedly and don’t require water-intensive waste treatment upon disposal.

“Considering that it is biodegradable and environment-friendly, shrimp shell is an excellent raw material for the preparation of catalyst,” the researchers write.

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