Eat Christmas Cookies, Save the Earth

John Davis

Christmas cookies helping you grow your spare tire a little more this season? Well, you could get that fat sucked out and made into biodiesel to power your green ride.

bittnerAccording to this article from Forbes, for a time, Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner was turning the fat he liposuctioned from patients into biodiesel and putting it into his and his girlfriend’s SUVs:

Love handles can power a car? Frighteningly, yes. Fat–whether animal or vegetable–contains triglycerides that can be extracted and turned into diesel. Poultry companies such as Tyson are looking into powering their trucks on chicken schmaltz, and biofuel start-ups such as Nova Biosource are mixing beef tallow and pig lard with more palatable sources such as soybean oil. Mike Shook of Agri Process Innovations, a builder of biodiesel plants, says this year’s batch of U.S. biodiesel was likely more than half animal-derived since the price of soybeans soared.

A gallon of grease will get you about a gallon of fuel, and drivers can get about the same amount of mileage from fat fuel as they do from regular diesel, according to Jenna Higgins of the National Biodiesel Board. Animal fats need to undergo an additional step to get rid of free fatty acids not present in vegetable oils, but otherwise, there’s no difference, she says.

Greenies like the fact that waste, such as coffee grounds and french-fry grease, can be turned into power. “The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel–and I have more fat than I can use,” Bittner wrote on “Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth.”

Now here’s the catch: it’s illegal in California to use human medical waste as fuel for vehicles. The state’s health department is looking into Bittner’s activities… some unrelated to the body-fat biodiesel processing… and a message on his company’s Web site says he’s closed his Beverly Hills office and moved to South America.

While there might be some legal issues about using your own fat to make your own biodiesel… besides the “ick” factor… the idea is good. And after all, isn’t it the thought that counts?

Please excuse me while I grab another slice of pie… I gotta do my part to build up my fat layer to eventually save the planet.