This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 26, 2004

USDA Launches Project to Make Energy from Cattle Byproducts

It's a classic case of turning lemons into lemonade: with concerns about mad cow disease (technically known as "bovine spongiform encephalopathy," or BSE) causing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to limit the use of certain cattle byproducts in the U.S. food supply, the agency hopes instead to turn these byproducts into energy. The USDA announced on May 17th that it is offering $50 million in loan guarantees for pilot projects to turn cattle byproducts into energy. And if you're still unsure, yes, we're talking about cattle brains and nervous systems. That gives a whole new meaning to the term "brain power"! Applications must be received by August 16th. See the USDA press release and, for background, the January guidance on "specified risk materials" from the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

One potential applicant for the USDA grants is Renewable Environmental Solutions, LLC (RES), which just began producing an equivalent to crude oil from turkey processing byproducts. The company claims its plant in Carthage, Missouri, is producing 100 to 200 barrels of crude oil equivalent each day, using a high-temperature and high-pressure process to break down organic material. RES also claims the process could run on low-value waste streams such as tires, plastics, sludge, municipal solid waste, paper, and animal and agricultural wastes...we assume that includes cattle brains! See the RES press release.