Posted: Aug 23, 2011 10:57 PM by Jim Hummel
Updated: Aug 23, 2011 11:00 PM
The hiss of an alligator could soon have something to do with the hum of a diesel engine. Researchers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have found that gator fat, which is typically thrown out at meat processing plants, makes great biodiesel.
"Everybody's buzzing about putting a gator in your tank, instead of a tiger and that's what we want to do," said Dr. Mark Zappi, Dean of the College of Engineering at UL. "There's been a few [fats] we've looked at and alligator is by far the best fat we've used."
The research was published recently in the Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemical Reseach, and is part of a broader alternative entergy initiative underway in the department. Zappi said he was first approached about the idea by state representative Jack Montoucet, an alligator farmer who was curious if gator fat could be useful. Zappi says the chemistry was nearly perfect, since like fuels, gator fat stays liquid at room temperature.
"Many of the animal fats at room temperature become a solid, take bacon, you wouldn't want that in your fuel tank."
Next up researchers will put pen to paper to see how economically feasable the concept could be, though they suspect it will likely work best on a regional-level.