Burning Bunny Rabbits, Poopy Diapers, & Other Bizarre Fuels
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Tired of watching fuel costs rise? Worried about how much your car is polluting poor little mother earth? Ever wonder what MacGyver would do in this situation? Well one thing is for sure, he wouldn’t settle for such shamockery. He would find an alternative. Fuel doesn’t have to be relegated to gas at the pump. There are many ways to create fuel and many of them are actually good for the environment. “Back-to-the-Future” is rapidly becoming a reality—that is, the trash powered car, not the hover-boards part. Here are some of the weirdest alternative fuels around:
Burning Bunny Rabbits
Stockholm Sweden is catching and killing of thousands of rabbits, and converting their carcasses into renewable energy to power homes, and now converts most other farm animals as well. The rabbit population explosion, along with the law that prevents them from dumping any animal into a landfill, has forced these people to get creative with waste meat. In the words of the bunny terminators themselves: “People like the rabbits because they are pretty. What else can we do with them though? We can’t give them bunny birth control pills. So we have to put the rabbits away.”
We have always thought babies were a little wasteful. Pooping everywhere, spitting up on their clothes. Not to mention all the screaming and crying. Well at least for once, one of those things is useful.
Poopy diapers can be used to make diesel fuel. An enterprising Canadian company has found out how to process the synthetic diaper and the poo into gas. Adult poop would work just as well; it’s just that most people don’t walk around collecting their poop in diapers, unless their incontinent, which is a totally different story. Am I the only one that smells a stinkin’-good business opportunity here?
A German inventor (Dr. Koch) has been turning lots of things into fuel, including cats. He uses a process much like TDP (see below) which also works on weeds, old tires, and lots of other biomass energy sources as well.
How much fuel? Well, according to Dr. Koch, the cadaver of a fully grown cat can produce 2.5 liters of fuel. Or in other words, about 20 cats per full tank. If this catches on, MPG may eventually stand for “Meows Per Gallon.”
As roadkill can easily be converted to a gas fill-up, this could probably be the subject of a funny “environmentally friendly” meets “I hate cats” bumper sticker.
Turkey Intestines & Trash Dumps
Gobble, gobble. We sure love our turkey; especially during Thanksgiving. But did you know turkey can be turned into fuel? The feathers, the guts, even the private parts can be processed into fuel. Yep, we said private parts. Actually the fuel can be made from all kinds of body parts, and just about any waste products, but a group of enterprising people in Missouri got together and opened a plant to process turkey waste into fuel that be made into diesel, gas, or jet fuel.
The procedure is known as thermo-depolymerization (TDP). The turkey business breaks down under extremely high heat. Unfortunately the whole process is very stinky so any turkey plants might have to relocate far away from civilization. The only trash that TDP cant process is heavy metals and radioactive waste, so just about every trash dump in the world is now a virtual oil well.
This solves both problems:
- where to get cheap ongoing supply of domestic gas
- where to put our trash.
Recycling will cease to exist if this process catches on.
It tastes good, it’s chock full of anti-oxidants, and did we mention it’s delicious? What’s good enough for your mouth may be good enough for your car. A team from the University of Warwick in Britain has run a car on 30% biodiesel derived from chocolate waste. Says James Meredith, who is in charge of this tasty project, “Anything with a fat in it can be turned into diesel, and that’s what we’ve managed to do.” Hmmm, maybe we should start saving our cooking fat.
Cow Gas + Poop
Cows suck. Did you know all the stinking gases they excrete contribute to 18% of global warming worldwide? In New Zealand it adds up to a whopping 34%! Passing gas produces methane which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. One of the reasons cows produce so much gas is because of grain they’re eating at factory farms instead of the grass they should be eating. But what if we could use all that methane for fuel? Dairy farmers in Vermont are putting their cow poop into generators to produce methane which is then used to create electricity. This cow electricity is also being sold to a nearby college.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck fuel? We’re not 100% sure but we do know that wood chips can be turned into fuel. It’s not necessarily cleaner when it comes sputtering out of your car, but when you take lifecycle carbon reductions into account, sawdust wins.
Using wood chips actually has a long history. During World War II when just about everything was rationed, there wasn’t enough gas to power cars, people started resorting to turning coal and wood chips into gas. If you live out in the woods with no access to a gas station, wood chips could be a great option!
Lipo-sucked Love-handles & Pork Rinds
If you have a liposuction scheduled in your future, you can ask the doctor to hand over the leftover fat when he or she is done. Turns out your fat can be turned into perfectly good fuel. The legality of it is questionable, but hey it’s your fat! Lose the gut and help save the planet at the same time. You’ll be like a regular Mother Teresa.
Alternatively, if human fat doesn’t make the cut, then animal fat would be the second choice. Tyson Foods took note of 50+ farmers in France who collect their duck and other animal fats which they convert to biodiesel, and converts their millions of gallons of chicken nugget fat into biodiesel as well (as described in TDP above).
According to one online post, “Chicken fat is great, duck fat apparently makes cars waddle.”
Morning Joe now your morning fuel? Perhaps. Ever notice sometimes coffee grounds are a little oily? That’s because 10-15% of coffee has usable oil that can be refined into biofuel. Coffee grinds are a major waste and take a long time to biodegrade. So being able to recycle coffee into usable fuel would be most excellent. Think about how much money you would save if you could use your morning coffee for gas? A lot. So start saving up.
Styrofoam Cups & Plates
Styrofoam might be the devil, (environmentally speaking), but it can actually be used as fuel. Polystyrene is uber lightweight yet bulky, so it’s a wee bit difficult to recycle. However it could be an effective form of gas believe it or not. Polystyrene melts into biodiesel and ones that have been used for coffee apparently do even better turning into biodiesel.
Drinking and driving is majorly lame. But drinking and fueling? That’s a whole different story.
In Sweden, they recovered so much booze illegally passing through customs that they couldn’t keep dumping it in the drain. So now they’ve turned it into biogas.
Te giant cocktail is virtually free, unless you consider that the cost of a decent wine runs a few $100 dollars per gallon. Now, if we could only figure out how to turn other seized drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, etc…, into gas, then we might be able to end our international dependence on oil.
If you have any extra moonshine in your backyard, try converting your alcohol into fuel.
Government waste is now worth something. One company has a Chevy HHR and a Ford F150 running on E85, via government paper waste that has been converted to ethanol. This may also be a good way to recover much of what’s being lost at companies such as Enron.
If it’s not clear by now, just about any organic matter can be converted to some sort of fuel. The cost, scalability, and environmental friendliness of these processes are always a barrier to replacing more conventional resources (e.g. nuclear, wind, solar, hydro/hydrogen, geo-thermal).
Our recommendation? See what you can do to add to this list next time around. And just think how many weird alternative energy sources are available outside of car fuel, and help avoid an energy crisis.