BP brews the fat

Australian motorists could soon be filling up with biofuel derived from animal fat, showing that what is unhealthy in the diet may prove healthy for the environment.

BP Australia has announced plans to produce 200 million litres of biofuels a year by 2008. More than half will be derived from tallow, the fat of cattle and sheep, which will be processed to extract ethanol. BP will invest in production facilities at its Bulwer Refinery in Queensland to produce roughly 110 million litres per annum of biodiesel through a new, internally-developed technology, which allows tallow to be converted to biodiesel using hydrogen.

The ethanol will be mixed with normal petrol, allowing BP to market a blended fuel known as e10 throughout the country by 2008.

Current legislation does not currently allow tallow-derived ethanol the same tax breaks as ethanol extracted from sources such as wheat or sugar.

BP also announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Primary Energy to purchase the entire output from a new ethanol plant to be constructed in Kwinana, Western Australia. The plant will produce 80 million litres of ethanol to be made into e10.

The Kwinana plant will also generate renewable electricity from biomass as an integral part of its process. BP says that together, the renewable fuel and renewable electricity will result in a reduction in greenhouse gases to the order of 200,000 tonnes per annum.