Would you like some minced alligator with that? If you want your car to run on biodiesel, then the answer is “yes.” The New York Times explains:
[A] team of chemists and engineers at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, has spent the last several years investigating the possibility of producing biodiesel from an unusual source: alligators.
Mincing and microwaving chunks of the reptiles’ fat in their laboratory, the researchers found it could be converted into fuel of sufficient quality that, like biodiesel from other sources, it could be blended with conventional petroleum-based diesel for use in vehicles and equipment. The team recognized that the amount of alligator fat available for conversion to biodiesel was dwarfed by other sources, like beef and chicken fat, and is now working on developing more efficient production techniques that would be applicable to any animal-based biodiesel.
Most animal fat can be converted into fuel, and the production techniques in development could give new utility to what is often considered offal. As we observe Earth Day, might we be better off farming alligators than planting trees or picking up litter?