A Beverly Hills liposurgeon has been accused of using his patients’ liposuctioned fat to fuel his and his girlfriend’s SUVs. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this story is that no one came up with the lipo-fat-as-fuel idea before.
Give Dr. Alan Bittner this: He was never secretive about what happened to the leftover liposuction fat from his practice, Beverly Hills Liposculpture. According to Forbes.com, he even ran a Web site dedicated to human fat fuel. On the now defunct lipodiesel.com, Bittner wrote, “The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel—and I have more fat than I can use… Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth.”
Experts say animal fat is just as good as vegetable fat and a gallon of either will get you about the same mileage as a gallon of regular diesel. The only caveat is that animal fat requires an additional processing step to remove free fatty acids. Due to a recent surge in soybean oil prices, biodiesel manufacturers say that over half of this year’s biodiesel came from animal sources, such as pig lard. Other new sources of biofuel include turkey feathers (see the DISCOVER story Anything Into Oil), coffee grounds, pond scum, and rainforest fungus.
Despite Bittner’s green intentions, using human medical waste as fuel is illegal under California law. And Bittner appears to have other problems on his hands too. His lipodiesel activities only came under investigation after several patients sued him for allowing his assistant and his girlfriend to perform liposuction procedures without medical licenses. The patients say too much fat was removed from them—perhaps Bittner was too greedy for fuel—leaving them disfigured.
Bittner has since closed up shop and left the country to pursue “volunteer activities” in South America. Check out patient testimonials on his Web site, complete with post-lipo photos of patients + Bittner holding lots of fat.
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DISCOVER: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Recycling, including the boat Earthrace, which was powered partly by liposuctioned fat and set the record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe.
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