6 thoughts on “Fish guts into biodiesel

  1. Ah, but that’s a communist means of producing energy. Not good enough for capitalist societies. Of course, one can never be sure if the US is a capitalistic society anymore, but so the argument goes. 🙂

  2. I went back and read this article, since I was wondering why the remnants weren’t simply processed into fish meal for fertilizer. (Remember the Pilgrims burying the head of a fish with each kernel of corn?) Didn’t get much of an answer, but had the following interesting quotation:

    “The oil comes in with water in it and has to be separated by raising it to 90 degrees C (194 degrees F) in a tank, where we add methanol, glycerin and other chemicals to make biodiesel,” says Juan Munoz, who heads up the workers who produce the fuel.

    So it’s not entirely sustainable because (1) they’re not using the biofuel to supply the heat that fractionates the oil, (2) there are obvious petrochemical incredients that need to be added in, in unknown quantities, (3) we have no idea of what happens to the liquid remains of the fractionate and what it contains. According to the original article, what remains is used for chicken or shrimp feed, although I would think they’d have a denatured sludge somewhere. The reporter for Yahoo News didn’t seem to have done much homework about tracing out the flowchart of the entire operation.

    None of this suggests that it isn’t a good idea to do this, although it does require asking a lot more questions than the reporter asked. Presumably there are some economies to doing this within the hated capitalistic setting. However, even here one has to be careful: Latin American governments are notorioius for introducing subsidies and price distortions through regulation and tax schemes that skew the allocation of resources dramatically. Without knowning a lot more about the Honduran economy, it would be hard to know whether this processing scheme is feasible in other, more open economies. We’d also need to know what fuel they use to heat the fish guts, where it comes from, and the source and price of the additives to make “biodiesel.” And, of course, to know why turning the fish guts into fertilizer wouldn’t involve fewer energy and petrochemical resources (again, there may be some economic distortions on the ground, like all the fertilizer in Honduras is produced by a wealthy family and all other sources of fertilizer are taxed outrageously.)

  3. “there are obvious petrochemical incredients that need to be added in, in unknown quantities…”

    I don’t see any inherently petrochemical ingredients listed in the article. I understand that methanol (wood alcohol) can be prouced from methane, or from wood, or through certain anaerobic fermentation processes.

    Meanwhile, Wikepedia reports that glycerin (aka glycerol) was formerly made from propylene, but this has become economically unfeasible because “Glycerol is a 10% by-product of biodiesel manufacture (via the transesterification of vegetable oils). This has led to a glut of crude glycerol on the market.” Score one for biofuels!

  4. It’s conceivable that the hydrocarbons added in were local. It’s also possible they’re not. Unless we know, it’s hard to make an assessment. I admit that I come from my perspective as a US Citizen where most would (or were, until recently) petrochemical. Honduras may make its own. Or not. I’d like to know why they’re adding additional incredients if this is a “diesal” fuel which to me means kerosene. “Biodiesel,” I have a feeling, means “alcohol” instead of a real diesel. But of course our idiot reporter didn’t bother to inquire of the process, so we’re speculating.

    Do you have any knowledge about how Yahoo news gathers its news? I wonder if we’re dealing with an amateur here.

  5. A commercial fish farm in Honduras cooks the fish leftover, adding ingredients to produce biodiesel, which they use to run their trucks and buses. Production is 300,000 gallons annually and costs $1 less per gallon than fossil fuel,this is not high price.

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