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AGRICULTURE REPORT – February 26, 2002: Heating Buildings with Chicken Fat - 2002-02-25

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

American scientists are developing a new use for chicken fat. Scientists at the University of Georgia in Athens are burning fat from chickens and other animals to produce heat. They have successfully used the fat to produce hot water and heat for buildings at the university.

The scientists say their tests show that animal fats often are less costly than more traditional fuels. They also say that burning the fats is safe for people and the environment. They add that no one has reported smelling anything unusual from the local heat production center.

The University of Georgia uses large steam boilers to heat its buildings and produce hot water. Recently, the university spent thirty-thousand dollars to change some of the equipment so it could burn both animal fats and traditional fuels.

The United States Poultry and Egg Association and the Fats and Protein Research Foundation are providing money for the project.

Scientists with the University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering have been supervising the tests. They have burned different mixes of fuel and animal fats. At times, the fuel mix was one-hundred percent chicken fat or other low-cost substances from food processing operations.

University of Georgia scientist Tom Adams says the animal fats produce about ninety percent of the heat that traditional fuel oils produce. He also says that substances released into the air by the burning fat are low in harmful pollutants, including sulfur.

University officials add that the burning does not increase carbon dioxide gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. Increased production of the gas has been linked to rising temperatures on Earth.

Engineer Bob Synk is another member of the research team. He says an increasing number of Americans believe that the country’s dependence on foreign oil imports is a problem. He says the government’s energy plan calls for non-traditional fuels to supply up to twenty percent of America’s energy needs within twenty years.

The scientists say chicken fat and other natural products could become important fuels in the future. Mister Adams notes that the United States already produces almost five-thousand-million kilograms of fat from chickens, cows and pigs each year.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.