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Lead By: Staff-Editor-02


Mc3D printing: New use found for McDonald's used cooking oil

Simpson is director of the school's Environmental NMR Center dedicated to environmental research.

Central to this research is an analytical tool called the NMR spectrometer. NMR stands for nuclear magnetic resonance and is technically similar to how an MRI works for medical diagnostics.

Researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough collected waste cooking oil from a McDonald's restaurant and turned it into resin for 3D printing.

"We use the NMR spectrometers to look inside tiny living organisms and understand their biochemical response to their changing environment," said Simpson. The overarching aim is to "help bridge the gap between medical research and the environment."

Simpson had bought a 3D printer for the lab in 2017. He hoped to use it to build custom parts that kept organisms alive inside of the NMR spectrometer for his research.

But the commercial resin he needed for high-quality light projection 3D printing (where light is used to form a solid) of those parts was expensive.

The dominant material for light projection printing is liquid plastic, which can cost upward of $500 a liter, according to Simpson.

Simpson closely analyzed the resin and spotted a connection. The molecules making up the commercial plastic resin were similar to fats found in ordinary cooking oil.

"The thought came to us. Could we use cooking oil and turn it into resin for 3D printing?" Simpson said.

Only one restaurant responded -- McDonald's

What came next was the hardest part of the two-year experiment for Simpson and his team of 10 students -- getting a large sample batch of used cooking oil.

"We reached out to all of the fast-food restaurants around us. They all said no," said Simpson. Except for McDonald's (MCD).

In the summer of 2017, the students went to a McDonald's location near the campus in Toronto, Ontario, that had agreed to give them 10 liters of waste oil.

Back in the lab, the oil was filtered to take out chunks of food particles.

Rajshree Ghosh Biswas is a second year PhD student working in Simpson's lab. She joined the team that was experimenting on McDonald's cooking oil in the summer of 2018. She was tasked with synthesizing small batches of the oil to try to convert it into high-quality resin.

Each time the resin was produced it was used to 3D print a butterfly. The breakthrough came in September.

The team successfully printed a high-quality butterfly with details as minute as 100 micrometers in size.

"We did analysis on the butterfly. It felt rubbery to touch, with a waxy surface that repelled water," said Simpson. He described the butterfly as "structurally stable." It didn't break apart and held up at room temperature. "We thought you could possibly 3D print anything you like with the oil," he said.

The experiment yielded a commercially viable resin that Simpson estimates could be sourced as cheaply as 30 cents a liter of waste oil.

Simpson was equally excited about another benefit of the butterfly the team had created."The butterfly is essentially made from fat, which means it is biodegradable," he said.

To test this, he buried a sample butterfly in soil and found that 20% of it disappeared in a two-week period.

"The concept of sustainability has been underplayed in 3D printing," said Tim Greene, a research director for global research firm IDC who specializes in the 3D printing market. "The melted plastic currently being used as resin is not so great for the environment."

"This is also a great way to reuse and recycle waste cooking oil," said Ghosh Biswas.

Terri Toms, the McDonald's franchisee who gave the oil to the students, agreed.

"I was impressed by the research initiative and happy to contribute to something that could possibly be helpful to future generations," said Toms. Simpson's team is no longer buying from McDonald's, but it hopes the research gets noticed by the industry.

Simpson and his team published their research in December 2019 in industry publication ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. In it, they wrote that "every year, it costs millions of dollars for fast food restaurants to process waste, including waste cooking oil.

"Most recycled waste cooking oil is currently used in the production of soap and biodiesel. It may be transformative for recycling programs if high-value commodities [such as resin]can be manufactured directly from it," the paper said.

McDonald's has taken note.

Leanna Rizzi, a spokeswoman for McDonald's Canada, said the company first learned about the experiment, which it called "a great initiative," three years ago when Toms let McDonald's know about the student's request.

Rizzi said the world's largest fast-food chain has a global sustainability program called "Scale for Good," which includes initiatives to tackle plastic pollution and its used cooking oil.

In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Portugal, McDonald's converts its waste cooking oil into biofuel for use in its own delivery trucks.


2019, What A Year.

2019, What A Year.

Updated : 24-12-2019 12:03:07


There is no doubt that this year has been an eventful one for us all, filled with a mixture of good and not so good times for our community and region.

But I can’t tell you enough how proud I am of our whole community, and the way in which we have come together to support one another during the challenging times, particularly with the recent bushfire activity and drought conditions that have been impacting our region.

It’s indeed inspiring to see that during the challenging times, our community never fails to rally together and provide a helping hand to those in need, and this is when our real heroes truly do shine brightly.

To our local firies, emergency service crews, and the many wonderful volunteers who are working tirelessly to protect our homes and loved-ones, we owe you a huge thankyou.

However in light of this heartache, we will recover, and your Council will continue to support all those in our community who have in some way been impacted.

Whilst these recent events may be at the forefront in the minds of many of us, it’s important to remember all the great and exciting times we had this year. From community events like Countdown to Christmas, Artwalk and Ironman, through to the many projects which have been delivered like the Flynns Beach Seawall, Wauchope CBD upgrade and the continuation of the Camden Haven Beach to Beach Riverwalk… and let’s not forget all of the wonderful playgrounds delivered throughout our towns and villages.

And it doesn’t stop there, with many exciting projects and events to look forward to in 2020, right across our growing region.

I want to thank everyone in our community who has engaged with and assisted Council during the year, and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

And I really hope that our wonderful firies, emergency services personnel and volunteers get a chance to rest and enjoy the Christmas season with their family and friends - there is no doubt that they deserve it.


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The celebration of Australia Day on 26 January is not set in stone. Surely it is not beyond us to select a different date that represents how we all want to see ourselves?

There is everything right about having a unifying national day to celebrate and reflect upon all things Australian such as the land, our values and our lifestyles.

If the date of Australia Day celebrations also needs historical significance, let it have positive and meaningful associations for all Australians.

Unfortunately that is not what 26 January offers, especially for indigenous Australians.

For the First Peoples, the raising of the British flag on 26 January to establish a convict colony in New South Wales marked the beginning of an invasion that led to their decimation through murder, disease and famine.

Indigenous Australians called this same day a Day of Mourning in 1938, Invasion Day in the bicentennial year of 1988 and since 1992, Survival Day.

'Aboriginal Australians have continued to feel excluded from what has long been a British pioneering settler celebration' stated historian Elizabeth Kwan in 2007.

More inclusive alternatives to 26 January include the first day of spring - 1 September.

This was officially proclaimed National Wattle day in 1992 but wattle days in August and September have been celebrated at the state and territory level for more than a century.

The national version offers both a symbolic and practical alternative says Tammy Solonec, lawyer and Nyikina woman from the Kimberley WA.

'First it is nationally celebrated on the first day of spring; it is a beautiful time across Australia, connected with concepts of new life and fresh beginnings.

It also falls nicely in the national public holiday deficit between July and November.

And being in September and it does not clash with any State or Territory wide celebrations. Apart from the timing being good, however, the really poignant aspect of wattle day is its underlying ethos and rich history'.

The movement for the celebration of a national Wattle Day began in 1889 in Adelaide and was revived in 1909 in Sydney.

'With a view to stimulating Australian national sentiment, and connecting it with love of our beautiful flora, we suggest the desirableness of setting apart throughout the Commonwealth a day on which the Australian national flower – the Wattle Blossom – might be worn and its display encouraged.

Wattles might also be sown and planted on this day. It is suggested that a date in September would be universally suitable' (Will J. Sowden 1913).

The first wattle day was held on 1 September 1910 and took place in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

A celebration of Australia Day on 1 September would recognise our connection to the beautiful and bountiful land that sustains us.

As long-time wattle day campaigner, Dawn Waterhouse says, 'Together, we could share the love we have for this magnificent country and the joy and privilege of being part of it'.

Suzette Searle, President Wattle Day Association Inc.

M:  0451680554    E: suzettesearle24 @ gmail.com

web: www . wattleday . asn . au

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