Is there Kentucky Fried Fuel in your Future?

By: Diane Nassy

Is there Kentucky Fried Fuel in your Future?

By Diane Nassy

Thanks to a weird marriage between the National RenderersAssociation, the people who turn animal fat into usefulproducts, and the Environmental Protection Agency's Office ofAir Quality Planning and Standards , there is a possibility thatyour car could be burning chicken or other animal fat in thenext few years.

That's because these two agencies have been working together toadvance the development of petroleum-based fuel alternativesknown as "biofuels". According to a jointly issued report,yellow grease, lard, recycled cooking fat, and otheranimal-derived products have been shown in tests to perform asan acceptable alternative to fossil fuels.

So far the fatty fuels have been tested in boilers, trucks,busses, and some automobiles. The results have been prettyimpressive. In fact, the EPA has issued guidelines for companieswho want to convert to biofuel to run their factories, powergenerating plants, and diesel engines. The guidelines spell outwhat fuels can be replaced by biofuels and what incentives thegovernment is offering to those who take the leap. You can readthe guidelines here at the EPA site(http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t3ed.html).

None of this alternative fuel talk has escaped the attention ofthe automobile manufacturers, big oil companies, orenvironmental groups. Everyone is looking at the possibilitiesin order to find a way to make some money when all is said anddone.

Some people are doing more than looking, however. One schooldistrict in Georgia is running their school busses on chickenfat, and some trucking companies are converting their dieselengine to burn vegetable oil. It all seems to be working outquite well. Of course, there will probably be a vegetableshortage next, and we'll see Crisco hitting $5.00 per tub!

Although it's not likely that your next off-the-lot car willhave "finger licking good" exhaust fumes, there is a great needto develop fossil fuel alternatives. Researchers aren't justworking with animal renderings and vegetable oil either.Experimental research is being conducted with hay andagricultural wastes as well. Even chicken "droppings" aregetting burned.

Some companies are developing conversion kits that will letordinary gasoline engines run on animal fat or vegetable oil.The average cost for a conversion kit runs around $1,000, butthe savings can add up pretty quickly when you consider thatmany restaurants are giving away their used fry grease for free.

The main problem is finding ways to produce good mileage resultsand developing engines that are able to handle the effects ofnon-petroleum fuels. These aren't overwhelming problems, butthey still must be addressed before biofuels become mainstream.And for the conspiracy theory fans among us, there is always thepossibility that "big oil" will do everything it can to stopbiofuels from replacing their coveted black gold.

While having to scrounge around for buckets of fat, or scrapingroad kill from the Interstate might slow down your travel plans,there will come a time when biofuels will be flowing from yourneighborhood service stations as freely as grease from a friedchicken platter

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