The Poultry Science Association and Dr. Brian Kiepper, a poultry scientist at the University of Georgia, are working to convert recovered fat from poultry wastewater streams into an economically viable alternative fuel source for processors.

Waste fat, oil and grease are major components of many food-processing wastewater streams, including poultry production. According to Kiepper, recaptured fat can be purified and then burned to heat water in a processing plant's boilers. It can also be used to make biodiesel.

Such uses can be attractive economically for the processor, particularly when compared to the traditional means of disposing of offal by selling it to rendering facilities, at a rate that values the fat at $0.22/gal. By comparison, once purified, fat recaptured from food processing wastewater can be used instead of fuel oil, which is currently priced at around $2/gal, to fire a plant's boilers.

Kiepper estimates that recovering only 10% (a conservative number) of the 44.6 million gallons of fat produced in Georgia each year would result in an estimated annual savings of nearly $9 million on fuel-oil purchases.