Alligator Fat Biodiesel: Just Because We Can Doesn't Mean We Should
File this alongside making biofuels from the animal fat waste from factory farms: A new article in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research shows that alligator fat could be a good source for biodiesel. Some 15 million pounds of that fat is disposed of in landfills each year, the byproduct of alligators raised for meat.According to the Science Daily summary of the research, Rakesh Bajpai and team,
...showed in laboratory experiments that extracted oil from alligator fat can easily be converted into biodiesel. The oil actually was more suitable for biodiesel production that oil from some other animal fats. The gator biodiesel was similar in composition to biodiesel from soybeans, and met nearly all of the official standards for high quality biodiesel.
While it's interesting that alligator fat is easier to turn into biodiesel than other animals, that in no way means that we should do so.
Alligator farming may not be done on the scale of factory farming chickens, pigs, cows, etc., and I'm normally for efficient use of waste products on grounds of environmental sustainability, but somehow this seems no more humane than keeping bears in cages to extract their bile, farming tigers for medicinal use and for their lucrative pelts, or it should go without saying raising animals for meat in the inherently cruel conditions of factory farms which most people willfully overlook every single day.
I suppose there is some ancient irony in this considering the ancient biological origins of fossil fuels and how long alligators have existed on this planet... Since we're running out of the old stuff, might as well get it while it's fresh.