Fleet Ops: Fuel Efficiency
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Biodiesel for the birds

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The rising cost of soybean oil is allowing another unique biodiesel cocktail to take flight -- this one made from chicken fat.

According to Associated Press, two oil businessmen have realized they can take the slimy stuff from a Tyson Foods Inc. poultry plant in Missouri and turn it into a boutique fuel for the trucking industry.

Jerry Bagby and a longtime friend are building a $5 million biodiesel plant, which will produce annually about three million gallons of the chicken-soy biodiesel combo.

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More expensive soybean oil is pushing alternative fuel refiners to consider newer, cheaper, biodiesel mixtures, reports AP.

For the biggest meat company in the U.S., the attraction for Tyson is clear. It announced in November the creation of renewable energy division that will be up and running later this year.

Tyson produces about 2.3 billion pounds of chicken fat annually from its poultry plants, according to AP, which can be converted to 300 million gallons of fuel.

Vernon Eidman, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota who has extensively studied the biofuels industry, tells AP that within five years, the U.S. will produce one billion gallons of biodiesel, and half of it will be made from animal fat. By that time soy bean-based biodiesel will account for about 20 percent of the total, he said.

However, animal fat isn't ideal for the typical Canadian environment. It clouds up more than soy-based biodiesel, which means it might thicken, Eidman said.

Meanwhile, in Canada Ottawa recently proposed a plan to mandate a B2 blend (2 percent biodiesel) for commercial vehicles. But at the behest of the trucking industry, officials are conducting a research project in Alberta to better understand the effects of biodiesel in cold temperatures, as well as its relationship with new, low emission engines and ultra low sulfur diesel.

-- with files from Associate Press

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