Overlooked Animal Fat Becomes Key Biodiesel Ingredient at Dexter Facility

JANUARY 2, 2007 - Posted at 4:11 p.m. CST

DEXTER, MO - Jerry Bagby is prospecting for oil just outside Dexter in southeast Missouri, but he isn't using a drill or a well.

Bagby and a friend are building a $5 million biodiesel operation that they say will make biodiesel using chicken fat from the nearby Tyson Foods poultry plant.

They aren't alone.  Most biodiesel is made with soybean oil, but that's getting expensive when compared to cheap and plentiful animal fat.

Meatpacking companies, including Tyson, plan to get into the biodiesel business themselves, taking advantage of a substance that now goes into pet foods and cosmetics.

Experts say that within five years, roughly half of the billion gallons of biodiesel made in the U.S. will be made from animal fat.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)