Monday, December 29, 2008

Recycled waist

Time now to reflect on a bizarre story which broke just before Christmas. An inquiry has been launched into claims by a cosmetic surgeon in California that he's been using the fat extracted from his patients in liposuction procedures as fuel for his Ford Explorer.

I'm sure there are some difficult ethical issues to grapple with here, but at first glance, it seems as if Dr Alan Bittner has hit upon a win-win idea. The United States has the biggest obesity problem in the world and simultaneously makes one of the largest contributions to climate change through its use of fossil fuels. Biodiesel from fat therefore kills two birds with one stone. (Or at least allows some very rich birds, who are about 25 stone, to say they're helping to kill off global warming.)

Unfortunately, some US states have a very specific law which prohibits people from powering vehicles with medical waste from humans. Quite how legislators were ever this farsighted is difficult to fathom, but it clearly spells trouble for fans of lipofuel. The prospect of a four-pump gas station - diesel, unleaded, superunleaded and lipo - is still, I suspect, a bit of a pipedream.

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