Saria Bio-Industries has completed a £8m (US$11.6m) investment in building the world’s first animal bio-diesel plant, and is now able to produce 2.8m gallons of diesel a year from animal carcasses.

Germany-based Saria operates 30 bases and rendering plants across seven European countries, including France, Austria, Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic. It renders 2.5m tons of carcasses and animal waste a year, but had to cease turning fat from cattle carcasses into animal feed because of the BSE crisis.

As a result of the crisis, EU restrictions were put implemented in January on disposing of animal remains, and Saria made a £300 per ton loss because of the extra costs involved in getting rid of waste products that could no longer be sold to the chemical industry.

Saria spokesman Klaus Andreas, told the Sunday Telegraph: “We are the first in the world to turn carcasses into fuel. From every ton the largest part is water, 11% is fat and 25% can be made into meal.

“We had a problem getting rid of the fat. Now we are reprocessing it as diesel by mixing it with alcohol, glycerine and other additives.”

“We started looking at the problem in 1996 and decided last year to go down this road making biodiesel when we learnt of the restrictions which would be placed on dealing with animal waste,” he added.

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Andreas further explained that the process could use cows infected with BSE as well as those that are disease-free: “The material is sterilised under pressure and then crushed and separated into fat and meal. The fat is processed so that we end up with a biodiesel that is clear and odourless and more environmentally friendly than normal diesel.

“For example, when all of our 800 trucks have been converted in the first phase, we will be reducing the CO2 output by 35,000 tons per year.”

The fuel is currently being used at the company’s service stations with the eventual aim of powering its entire 4,000-strong fleet of lorries. Saria has not yet obtained permits to sell it to other firms, or the general public.