Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Firm to deliver engine oil made from animal fat


NEW YORK -- A Connecticut startup said it expects to deliver a car engine oil this month that is made without the typical multimillenium waiting period for fossils to become fuel.

Green Earth Technologies Inc. says it has found a way to make a substance chemically identical to crude oil from animal fat, a slaughterhouse byproduct typically discarded en masse.

The company is already using the process to make 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine oil, which is marketed as G-Oil.

Green Earth's engine oil would enter a market that hasn't changed much since Mobil 1 synthetic oil debuted in 1974.

"The oil we're selling is better than anything out there," said Mat Zuckerman, GET's technology chief, who says he began working on the process several years ago when studying emu oil.

Jeff Marshall, a former venture capitalist, helped start the company in June 2007. The company still recommends customers change their oil using manufacturers' guidelines.

Legitimate products that diminish the use of oil in any way can find a niche market in the current environment, when big fluctuations in prices serve as a constant reminder that crude is finite.

"There is a big push to replace petroleum distillates with an alternative source," said Doug Kingman, an agricultural sciences professor at Sam Houston State University. "It's really nice to take animal fat that we'd normally throw away and turn it into something useful."

A quart of GET's motor oil will retail for about $5.99 to $6.99, depending on location. A quart of Mobil 1 10w30 synthetic oil -- which GET sees as a main competitor -- retails for about $6.50.

GET's small-engine oil is already being sold by retailers like Home Depot, but Zuckerman and Jeff Marshall, a former venture capitalist who helped start the company in June 2007, are waiting for marketing approval from the American Petroleum Institute.

"We can't really solve the world's fuel problem this way, because there's not enough fat," Zuckerman said. "But we can solve the world's lubrication problem."

In 2007, about 6 million gallons of lubricants were sold, according to the Energy Information Administration.

GET has 52,000-square-foot facility in Oklahoma that gets animal fat from a nearby slaughterhouse. It can produce 5 million bottles of the oil per month.

"There is not enough oil from animals in the U.S. to displace an entire industry, but maybe GET will discover something we didn't know," Kingman said.

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