A recent study into the potential use of surplus butter has stated there is a possibility it could be used to make biodiesel fuel. Biodiesel is a fuel typically made from soy bean oil, or waste vegetable oils. In this case, butter is an animal product, but the amount of spoiled butter and stored butter that is inedible is large enough to consider it as a source of biodiesel fuel. For those who are not at all familiar with biodiesel, it is for use in diesel engine vehicles only. One of biodiesel’s main advantages is that it burns more cleanly, thus producing less air pollution. According to the State Energy Conservation Office in Texas, “the use of biodiesel fuel results in much lower emissions of almost every pollutant: carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide (one of the main causes of acid rain), particulates, carbon monoxide, air toxins and unburned hydrocarbons.”
American researchers found the surplus butter they studied could produce oil that on its own would not meet current biodiesel quality standards, but it could be used to blend with existing biodiesel. They also found with more purification to remove extra sulfur content, that butter might have a standalone potential as a biodiesel fuel stock.
Another advantage of biodisel is that it is far less toxic than gasoline, and does not come from a marine environment where it can create tremendous damage to marine wildlife, like offshore crude oil drilling does. The United States is committed to the production of a total of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. The current level is reportedly 11 billion gallons annually. (Just to be clear, corn ethanol is one of those biofuels, and is the one most in production.) Switchgrass, corn stover and algae are other potential sources of biodiesel currently being investigated.