In Brazil, a Plan to Turn Waste Fish Guts Into Biodiesel

Already the largest market in the world for sustainable, cost-competitive ethanol production, Brazil may be setting its sights on another interesting biofuel: biodiesel made from the leftover entrails of the Tilapia farming industry.

Farmed Tilapia is one of the fastest growing fish products globally, and Brazil makes a ton of it. Not only are Tilapia inexpensive and “unfishy” in flavor, when compared to other farmed fish they are quite a bit easier on the environment too — requiring only a vegetable- and cereal-based diet, and in some cases, even eating trash. Their flesh also does not readily collect contaminants such as mercury from the environment making them safer to eat than other fish such as Tuna and Salmon. However, after processing the fish, there are heaps of inedible entrails left over that typically get tossed.

Now an organization in Brazil’s largest Tilapia farming region, Ceara Nucleus Foundation of Industrial Technology (NUTEC), says it is moving forward on a project that will make it a leader in the field of turning the fish entrails into fuel. Although, to be fair, I don’t think there’s much competition for the title of “fish gut to fuel” leader, but more power to them.

According to Jackson Malveira, a coordinator at the Brazilian Biodiesel Reference Laboratory (LARBIO), “When the breeding of tilapia began in net-tanks… the problem arose of finding a destination for fish waste, which did not have any use for producers in the beginning.” If the project turns out to be successful, this could be a great way to close some of the waste loop in a process that has the potential to be environmentally destructive.

The project will also establish a new fish gut processing facility to extract the fish oils from the waste and will be funded partially with Brazilian government grants.

Source: Biofuels Digest

Image Credit: Blue Turban Photography’s Flickr Photostream. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.