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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Best fuel source baa none?
Tim Bowler
BBC World Service business reporter

You could soon drive to work on one
New Zealand is a country with an awful lot of sheep.

One by-product of the country's meat industry is thousands of tons of animal fats, or tallow, every year.

Now the country is experimenting with using the fat to create fuel for vehicles, and plans have been drawn up to create a bio-diesel refinery.

A lot of the meat industry's annual output of 150,000 tons of tallow is currently exported for use in animal foods or chemicals manufacture.

But New Zealand's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority has drawn up plans to use 120,000 tons of animal fat as a bio-diesel.

Cleaner and better

The Authority's transport expert, Elizabeth Yeaman, says tallow bio-diesel is "very clean burning, far more so than ordinary diesels".

And the process is doubly energy-efficient when compared to producing bio-diesel from specially grown crops.

"The fact that we have both sheep and beef tallow here as a waste product means that its much...easier to make it financially a goer than...actually growing a crop with the production of biodiesel specifically in mind," says Ms Yeaman.

Some companies are already embracing the idea.

The power firm Meridien Energy, is looking at using tallow as an environmentally friendly fuel to drive its diggers and other machinery on its $1.3bn hydro-electric scheme.

It looks like New Zealand is going to be the first country in the world with sheep-fat powered bulldozers.

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