Duck fat used to power vehicles

Some clever farmers in a rural French village have found a novel use for duck fat, using it to power vehicles including tractors.

In St Aquilin, a rural village in the southwestern region of Dordogne, a farm co-operative has found a way to turn duck grease into biodiesel and biogas now being used to power a tractor and two other vehicles, according to stuff.co.nz.

Duck fat has long been used as a key ingredient in cassoulets and confits, and there is no shortage of the animal, with two million birds raised in the region each year.

"We’re really doing this out of activism, to recognise that we have to do something to help save the planet,” Jules Charmoy, who raises russet-hued Limousin cattle on his organic farm, told stuff.co.nz.

“We should stop the big speeches and start with little acts."

The 50-farm cooperative collects the duck fat from nearby restaurants and food businesses weekly.

"We also have frying oil and fat from pigs and calves. There’s a little bit of everything in there but the dominant thing is duck because we’re in the Dordogne," Charmoy said.

They heat the fat to 49 degrees Celsius to remove water before reducing the heat and adding alcohol and potassium hydroxide.

The mixture has to be shaken and when settles the biodiesel is separated below a layer of glycerol.

To comply with French law, it is then mixed in a 30 to 70 per cent ratio.

Last year the cooperative produced 20 000 litres of the biodiesel.

The mixture costs about 20 per cent more than the discounted diesel that farmers can buy, but the group says the environmental benefits are significant.

The experiment is not the first of its kind, with US poultry giant Tyson Foods recently transforming millions of gallons of chicken and pork fat produced at its operations each year into biodiesel.

The duck fat from the French cooperative will be used to fuel a biogas plant being constructed in the nearby town of Bergerac.

The plant will process between 9000 and 10,000 cubic metres of waste per year and generate about 360 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, according to Cadalen.
"Also, for the farmers, it’s another revenue source.

“To sell energy – it’s another thing besides food production, it permits us to protect ourselves.”

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