Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Gobble-De-Goop. (Brain Mulch)

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Gobble-De-Goop. (Brain Mulch)

Article excerpt

The next renewable fuel movement will be heralded with a resounding "cluck".

How does this grab your giblets -- millions of gallons of chicken fat and yellow restaurant grease traditionally dumped down drains or into landfills can he used to generate heat, electricity or modified to be used as a substitute for diesel fuel.

The University of Georgia has been cooking up an energy solution with down-home scents and sensibility. Aromatic southern-fried chicken grease and vegetable oils are being used to heat buildings on campus at he U of G. Described as a "no-brainer", researchers and works committees are co-operating to close the loop on a sustainable campus. Tom Adams, the department's outreach co-ordinator, says there have been no odour complaints. (The U of G spent about $30,000 USD to perform the retrofits.)

That's right, the golden goop dripping from lunches and into grease traps everywhere can be harvested and processed for power. Chemically, they are known as the mono alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids. Those fatty acids can come from any renewable lipid source such as vegetable oils, tall oil from wood waste, or restaurant grease.

Vegetable-based distillates -- what may one day be called "dumpster diesel" --were the original choice to power early diesel engines. Rudolph Diesel showed that his engine could stomach peanut oil in 1900. With a bounty of raw materials, and cheap and easy backyard production, it was slated to be the "people's fuel". But when Lucas and the Hamill brothers struck oil at Spindletop, Texas, in 1901, ingenuity inevitably took a back seat to big business investment.

However, dumpster diesel (or its official name -- "biodiesel") may be back in business.

Initial research has shown that biodiesel, litre for litre, generates about 90 percent of the heat of traditional fossil fuels, and the resulting air emissions are comparatively low in sulphur, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other aromatics. …

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