Scientists at the University of Arkansas have signalled the end of future clean energy woes by exploring supercritical methanol as a method of converting chicken fat into biodiesel fuel.

The researchers say that the findings may develop commercially viable fuel out of plentiful, accessible and low-cost feedstocks and other agricultural by-products. R E Babcock, professor of chemical engineering said that the findings would lead the energy producers to think on combining petroleum-based diesel with a biodiesel product.

"Major oil companies are already examining biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum," he said.

"With the current price of petroleum diesel and the results of this project and others, I think energy producers will think even more seriously about combining petroleum-based diesel with a biodiesel product made out of crude and inexpensive feedstocks," he added.

The study led by Babcock deliberated low-grade chicken fat and tall oil fatty acid to a chemical process known as supercritical methanol treatment. Supercritical methanol treatment dissolves and causes a reaction between components of a product — in this case, chicken fat and tall oil — by subjecting the product to high temperature and pressure.

The substances became "supercritical" when they were heated and pressurized to a critical point, the highest temperature and pressure at which the substance can exist in equilibrium as a vapor and liquid.

The findings revealed that chicken fat and tall oil treated with supercritical methanol produced biodiesel yields in excess of 89 and 94%, respectively. According to Brent Schulte, a chemical-engineering graduate student in the university’s College of Engineering who conducted the research said Biodiesel provides an effective, sustainable-use fuel with many desirable properties.

Via Times of India