Researchers Create Low-Waste Biofuel From Alligator Meat in a Snap

by | Apr 23, 2014

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University of Louisiana at Lafayette have developed a speedy, low waste method for converting alligator fat into biofuel.

Conversion of animal fat  to biodiesel has been around for some time – an earlier, but more-wasteful, way to process aligator fat into biofuel was developed in 2011, but the traditional biodiesel process generates significant quantities of solid waste. By contrast, the new method creates hardly any such residues, according to researcher Thomas Junk, Ph.D.

A rapid increase in alligator farming in the southeastern United States generates waste fats in large quantity – an estimated 15 million pounds of the fat is thrown away each year, according to The New York Times – creating an readily-available feed-stock for the researchers.

The new study, which was announced at a meeting of the American Chemical Society last month, concludes that using fat from such common sources as chicken, pork and beef could be much more practical for commercial implementation than from the limited amount available from alligators and could be just as effectively turned into biodiesel.

The new process also reduces the time it takes to create the biofuel. In the earlier alligator fat study, they used a batch reactor, whereas the new process uses a flow reactor, allowing conversion to happen in a continuous stream, effectively making production faster.

In 2010, Dynamic Fuels, a 50/50 joint venture of Syntroleum and Tyson Foods, opened the first U.S. commercial-scale biofuel production plant to convert animal fats and greases into renewable fuels.

The facility uses Syntroleum’s Bio-Synfining technology to produce the renewable fuels from non-food grade animal fats produced or procured by Tyson Foods, such as beef tallow, pork lard, chicken fat and greases.

At the time, Tyson Foods had nearly met its goal, announced in 2008, to convert its animal byproducts to 75 million gallons of biodiesel and jet fuel annually by 2010. Production started in October 2010 and volume stood at 2,500 barrels per day, at that time. The plant was designed to produce up to 75 million gallons of renewable fuels per year.

Picture credit: St. Augustine Alligator Farm via Shutterstock.

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