December 28, 2008

Liposuction Doctor Used Fat from Patients to Power His Car
  • Soylent Green Energy
  • Aaaaand ThinksTwice wins the thread with the first comment! Fascinating topic. And after the initial reflex 'ew' reaction, this seems like it could be quite a sensible sort of plan. Maybe. Does anyone know how the fat (or whatever alternative substance) is actually made into fuel? I'm guessing you don't just drain it out of the gut and into the gas tank.
  • mothninja - I'll take a stab at it. My guess is that he was making a methyl ester of the fat (actually, how much chemistry do you have mothninja?....I'll try and take it back to first principles as best I can...) There isn't a lot of chemical difference between fats and oils. Human fat is three smaller chains held together at one end by glycerol. (Aside - look at your hand, palm down, then bend your thumb and little finger under so they're hidden. Your three middle fingers, joined at one end, is what human fat "looks" like. Three hydrocarbon chains (your fingers) joined at one end.) And the three smaller chains, when you break them off, look a heck of a lot like oil (diesel) except for a couple of oxygen atoms dangling at the end (the point of attachment for the glycerol). (Another aside - soap is made by breaking off the glycerol and replaceing it with a salty (water soluble) entity.) When you make biodiesel you break off the glycerol (one kind of alcohol) and replace it with methanol (a simpler, lighter, kind of alcohol). That replacement from heavier to lighter is enough to change things from solid (fat) to liquid (oil) and give you something you can run through a diesel engine.
  • can I still say ew, anyway?
  • well...yes, I suppose so....
  • Heads for Snopes...
  • I think he just exposed the whole plan to deal with obesity and the oil crisis.
  • Burger King could run promotions like: "free food! with lipo hookup" Would give a whole new look to the drive thru.
  • I am Jack's renewable energy source.
  • Thanks for that polychrome - I have no chemistry at all, so that was useful.