I recently read an article about Hainan Airlines' amazing feat of flying more than 100 passengers from Shanghai to Beijing using biofuel made from cooking oil. The fuel was made by state-owned Sinopec from waste cooking oil collected from restaurants.
I was quite surprised when I first saw this news report. Everyone has a bad impression about gutter oil after the tainted food incident in Taiwan. At first, it seemed gutter oil was unhealthy and of no benefit to anyone. But this new development changes everything. How can we change gutter oil to biofuel and generate energy? I can't imagine how it is done.
It is a really great invention which can not only help solve energy problems but is also environmentally friendly. Maybe in the future, this kind of oil will replace the traditional jet fuel used in planes.
Chan Hei-lam, Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Hei-lam. While it's definitely good news that some use has been found for "gutter" oil, I wouldn't be celebrating just yet. We don't know how much oil is needed or what sort of harmful effects it might have on humans or the environment.
It is definitely a step in the right direction, though, and we should be proud that a mainland company has done this. It is interesting to note that the first airline in the world to use biofuel in passenger flights was Lufthansa in 2011.
Hopefully we will find that there are no bad side-effects and this is a safe and viable alternative to the current oil mix.