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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Biodiesel on WSJ front page

[I blogged previously about turkey biodiesel here; also see biodiesel from deep-fried Twinkies byproducts.]

Extracts from
Turkey in the Tank: High Price of Gasoline Is a Boon for Biofuels
by Patrick Barta And Sarah Nassauer for The Wall Street Journal
October 28, 2005

What comes out of a small refinery in Carthage, Mo., isn't unusual: up to 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel. It's what goes in that sets it apart: turkey feathers, turkey bones, turkey fat and sometimes even whole turkeys.

The ... plant belongs to Changing World Technologies Inc. ... It says its "thermal conversion process" is a speedier version of the geological drama that made petroleum. ... the difference is that this process uses turkey parts rather than the microscopic plants and animals of yesteryear. Waste from a nearby turkey-processing plant goes in, heat and pressure separate oils and gases, and diesel comes out. The company sells the fuel to a nearby industrial facility to generate power.

... the turkey diesel is competitive with the petroleum-based stuff, thanks in part to recent U.S. tax incentives for renewable resources such as farm waste.

In the late 1800s, Rudolf Diesel himself envisioned a future in which farmers used everyday crops -- notably peanuts -- to fuel machines.

The International Energy Agency in Paris figures the cost of biofuel often exceeds the cost of fuel from traditional crude by 35% or more ... but while the day that biofuels make economic sense on a large scale may be far off those economics can change when the raw materials are cheap enough.

United Kingdom-based Green Fuels began selling kits a year and a half ago that allow farmers and small businesses to use waste oil from restaurant fryers to make biodiesel. ... sales are so strong that a new energy crisis of sorts could emerge: a cooking-oil shortage...

In Thailand, a Danish company is trying to develop a facility to turn meat from discarded coconuts into fuel oil for farmers' tractors.

In India, people who want alternative fuel collect cow dung in a backyard box called a "digester" -- made of bricks and concrete or steel or even rubber -- and add water. Over time organic processes will produce gas. As pressure builds up in the digester, the gas can be piped into a home for cooking. Biogas experts say three cattle will generate enough gas to cook for a family of five. Larger models can produce enough gas to run a motor to pump water or generate electricity.

Oil may be growing harder to find, but as ... an adviser at the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources in New Delhi notes, "dung is always available."

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