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Turning poultry waste into fuel.

In Brief: Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are developing cost-effective techniques for separating and converting poultry processing residuals into higher-value products. The techniques would provide a beneficial use for these byproducts, which are typically blended back into lower-value products.

The ultimate goal is to extract usable, quality feedstocks from poultry processing byproducts such as brown grease extracted from wastewater pretreatment processes. "If successful, we will help reduce costs by providing a cheap and simple way for the industry to better utilize their low-quality waste oil and grease byproducts," said John Pierson, a GTRI principal research engineer. Pierson teamed with Cumming, Ga.-based American Proteins to obtain samples of poultry-processing waste materials. They first focused their efforts on developing better ways to separate usable portions of the waste--such as free fatty acids, neutral oil, and waxes--from unusable portions, such as solids and other insoluble materials.


Using improved refining and de-gumming techniques, the researchers were able to effectively reduce the volume of waste material by 75 percent.

"We are currently working on increasing the efficiency of these separation techniques, and on scaling up our separation techniques for use in a plant rather than the laboratory," noted Wallace.

In addition to developing improved separation processes, the researchers are working to convert the various fractions into biofuels at a higher yield than currently possible with typical processes. The research team is currently conducting solid-catalyst research to convert recovered usable fractions into alkane hydrocarbons or kerosene fuel, a primary ingredient for jet fuel. Initial efforts have identified promising solid-catalyst materials capable of converting selected fractions of polished brown grease more efficiently than traditional processes.

"Recovering these value-added products from waste oils is very important because it gives the industry greater flexibility in revenue generation as the recovered, value-added products can be used for traditional products or biofuels, whatever the market will bear," added Pierson.

For more information contact Daniel Campbell,, or Mark Richards,
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Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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