Alligator fat could look good in the gas tank, researchers say

Read the full story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

According to new research by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, future truck drivers could rev up their engines with biodiesel made from the unlikeliest of sources: gator fat.

Each year, about 15 million pounds of alligator fat is produced by the alligator meat-processing industry and dumped into landfills. Alligators are harvested from the wild and from alligator farms for their skin and meat.

Researchers said the fat, traditionally discarded, might have value.

This post at Treehugger includes a short summary of the original research article and comments on the ethical implications.

The full citation for the research article is: Srividya Ayalasomayajula, Ramalingam Subramaniam, August Gallo, Stephen Dufreche, Mark Zappi, Rakesh Bajpai. “Potential of Alligator Fat as Source of Lipids for Biodiesel Production”. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2011; : 110729082356010 DOI: 10.1021/ie201000s.

Abstract: A large amount of alligator fat (AF) is produced by alligator meat processing industry and disposed in landfills or discarded as waste. The AF can be used as a potential feedstock for biodiesel production due to its high lipid content. In this work, recovery of lipids from the AF tissue was studied by solvent extraction as well as by microwave rendering. Microwave rendering resulted in AF oil recovery of 61% by weight of the frozen AF tissue obtained from producers. The fatty acid profile of the lipid showed that palmitic acid (C16:0), palmitoleic acid (C16:1), and oleic acid (C18:1) were the dominant fatty acids accounting for 89–92% of all lipids by mass; 30% of the fatty acids were saturated and 70% were unsaturated. The biodiesel produced from AF oil was found to meet the ASTM specifications of biodiesel concerning kinematic viscosity, sulfur, free and total glycerin, flash point, cloud point, and acid number.

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