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Burning bunnies for biofuel?

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rabbit-in-cloverThe Swedes, those latter-day descendants of bloodthirsty Vikings, have found a new use for rabbits: heating fuel. According to Der Spiegel, stray rabbits in Stockholm are being shot, frozen and then shipped to a heating plant to be incinerated.


In the Swedes' defense, the bunnies are a menace; a plague of wild and stray pet rabbits is devouring the city's parks. Some 3,000 have been killed thus far this year, down from 6,000 last year, Tommy Tuvunger, a professional hunter who works for the city, told the German news magazine.


Converting the rabbits to fuel is the company Konvex, a subsidiary of the Danish company Daka Biodiesel, which makes automotive and heating fuels from vegetable and animal oils and fats. The Swedes have a variety of similar efforts, including turning slaughterhouse trimmings into biogas, a methane fuel that runs taxicabs in Linkoping in southern Sweden. And in the U.S., ConocoPhillips and Tyson have joined forces to make biofuel from pork and chicken fat, which is otherwise consumed as pet food or turned into cosmetics or soaps.


Such efforts have given rise to parody, including a prank in 2007 wherein members of the leftist activist group The Yes Men, masquerading as executives from Exxon Mobil, attempted to convince an audience of oil industry types that "Vivoleum"—a proposed fuel to be made from dead people—was the fuel of the future. "We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum masquerading as Shepard Wolff of Exxon. Of course, making biofuel from human fat is illegal in the U.S.


Bunnies, despite a felicity for breeding, are not quite abundant enough to be a reliable fuel so Stockholm also ships dead cats, cows, deer and horses to the plant for processing, Tuvunger told Der Spiegel. No word on whether the remains of man's best friend are also keeping Swedes warm this winter.

Image: © iStockphoto.com / Mariya Bibikova

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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