This posting reminded me of an old Simpsons' episode called "Lard of 
the Dance."  In a nutshell, Homer learns that there's a market for bacon 
grease, and so he proceeds to start up a business in which he buys a 
bunch of bacon for the purpose of extracting the grease. Needless to 
say, the income margins for this business model left a lot to be 

In any case, I think that the Simpsons' episode, the butter/fuel 
process, and the cooking oil to biodiesel process all illustrate an 
important aspect of "waste" energy. On the one hand, one can pretty much 
guarantee that the processes are net energy losses from a total life 
cycle perspective (i.e., including embedded energy from crop/feed 
production, transport fuel, processing infrastructure, etc.). Thus, it's 
inappropriate to treat any of these processes as true energy sources.

On the other hand, we also have to consider that our society is already 
producing bacon fat, excess butter, and used cooking oil as a matter of 
course. When looked at in this way, the question becomes what is the 
most energy-efficient/environmentally appropriate way to deal with this 
stuff as it exists. Any energy or economic return we get from waste is 
basically a bonus associated with good house-keeping, and not a primary 
rationale for cooking bacon, making butter, or frying food in the first 
place. So even if these processes are not true energy sources, there are 
likely energy savings that can be achieved through utilization rather 
than "business as usual".


Jason M. Evans, Ph.D.
Environmental Sustainability Analyst
Environmental Policy Program
Carl Vinson Institute of Government
University of Georgia
Lucy Cobb 318
Office phone: 706-542-2808
[log in to unmask]

On 7/29/2010 9:25 AM, Ronald Bishop wrote:
> Butter has a heating value approaching coal (30 MJ/kg).  But the real question is how much energy is spent obtaining a kg of butter?  Net gain or loss?
> Ron Bishop, P.E.
> Solid Waste Professional Engineer
> Alachua County Public Works Department
> Work: 352-548-1279
> Cell:   352-213-4818
> [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology Society [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of SUMMERFIELD,KAITLYN E
> Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 12:38 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Butter could power diesel vehicles
> We are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to make
> biofuels a feasible and economically viable commodity. This
> article explores the possibility of using butter as a biodiesel
> fuel source.  This novel idea that takes the butter fat and
> converts it into the fatty acid esters that constitute biofuels
> may help us reach our 2022 goal of producing 36 billion gallons of
> biofuel.-kaitlyn
>   July 28,2010
> --