5 Alternative Fuels You Haven’t Heard About

Some people might be creeped out by the idea of using human fat, or lipodiesel, to run their car or heat their home. But it does go to show there’s energy potential where you might not expect it! (image: daddydesign.com)

Propane is the most popular alternative fuel in the world, for lots of good reasons. However, the high price of gasoline and oil has piqued serious interest in other fuel sources that could meet our voracious energy demands. A recent Huffington Post report dished on a few of the latest, strangest alternative fuels researchers are tinkering with. They’re mostly motor fuels, like propane autogas, and not suitable for home heating purposes. We’re not so sure any of these can compete with propane. Not yet, anyway! But, like propane, they’re eco-friendly and hold great potential for curbing America’s foreign fuel dependency issues – a step in the right direction. Check it out:

1. Paper is biodegradable, but we’re producing it at a rate nature can’t possibly keep up with. So it’s pretty exciting that Green Car Congress reported companies Novozymes and Fiberight have unveiled the first car to ever run on paper waste and cardboard. After pulping, washing and pre-treating the paper, researchers used enzymes to convert the waste into sugars. After some fermentation, the sugars became a totally legit biofuel.

2. Lipodiesel is basically human fat. It’s not legal to use, so we obviously don’t encourage anyone to pursue this particular fuel, but it sure is interesting. Lipodiesel gained recognition when a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon named Dr. Bittner admitted to Forbes he’d been using his patients’ fat to fuel his Ford SUV and his girlfriend’s Lincoln Navigator. On his recently removed website lipodiesel.com, Dr. Bittner defended his actions saying his patients actively requested he use their extracted fat for fuel. With authorities investigating his practice, he has left the country to do some volunteer work in Brazil.

Millions of tons of paper products and diapers are dumped into landfills every month. But do they have to be? (image: instructables.com)

3. Diapers have been filling up landfills since their invention in the 1940s. However, a Japanese firm is developing a way of turning that waste into usable energy. Their new machine converts adult diapers into biofuel in just one day by compressing them for use in biomass gasifiers. Cool, huh? Not sure why they haven’t tried converting baby diapers too.

4. Rabbits became a public nuisance in Stockholm in 2008 when their overpopulation had the critters running around everywhere. So, city officials began churning them up into usable biofuel for home heating purposes, TIME reported. Obviously, the practice was seriously controversial and animal rights groups rioted across the city. This alternative fuel won’t be catching on in the U.S. anytime soon – but what if we converted our nation’s roadkill instead? Huff Post estimates that 100,000 tons of raw animal material can generate enough power to heat 11,000 homes for a year.

5. Chocolate waste is a main ingredient in Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Center’s new biodiesel mix. The Center’s team built a Formula 3 car in 2009 that runs on chocolate and is made of other components containing flax fiber, carrots and potato starch. Team leader James Meredith explained the goal was to “show was is possible. People love motor racing, and the trick is to do it in a more environmentally responsible manner.”