Friday, May 2, 2008


From: Pacific Islands Report ( - 1/05/2008

A local company which has been testing a bio fuel product in Suva said it was waiting for test results to come through from Houston, in the United States on the quality of the product before it started production.

The company, BioDiesel (Pacific) Ltd, two weeks ago produced about 900 litres of diesel in 35 minutes, using a quantity of diesel mixed with a quantity of coconut oil.

"The end result is a bio diesel or renewable diesel product," said company chairman Ken Roberts (also the chief executive officer of the Fiji Employers' Federation) who said they have been trialing the renewable diesel for some time now.

"The machine is installed and we are waiting for test results from laboratories in Houston to confirm that we have produced to the expected standard, ASTM 975 or No 2 diesel. The result is expected to come through by end of this week or early next week.

"And once we get that then we have got a machine and the product itself. ASTM is an American standard for the quality of petroleum fuel," he explained.

Roberts said the 900 litres of diesel which they made two weeks ago, took about 35 minutes. But he said that potentially the equipment could convert 20,000 litres per day into renewable diesel.

According to him, the product could have up to 80 per cent coconut oil and anything from 20 per cent and up could be diesel, plus the catalyst.

"This is a demonstration unit and it is situated in Suva to make it accessible to a wide
number of people who might be traveling in and out of Suva, particularly from the Forum
Secretariat countries, all of which have coconuts."

According to him, the fuel could be used for any engine that requires diesel as a fuel including generator sets, boats, cars, tractors.

On how much coconut would be needed to produce the bio fuel, Roberts pointed out that a tonne of copra is made from 6000 nuts, giving 640 litres of coconut oil which could in a 80/20 mix, give 800 litres of renewable diesel.

On how environment friendly would the new product be considering that diesel generally produced a lot of black smoke, Robert explained that the conventional diesel imported into Fiji has 5000 parts per million of sulphur content.

"When used to mix with coconut oil this will lower significantly to be mere tens of parts per million."

Roberts said that BioDiesel (Pacific) Ltd was a local company. He, Roberts was a shareholder at this moment but more local and overseas investors are expected to take up shareholdings as they become involved as the distribution and the awareness of the project becomes more widely known and understood, he added.

The project aimed to provide a way in which a coconut farmer in the rural and the island areas could turn this product into a fuel product, he said. "All coconut farmers could supply the industry."

He said bio diesel was first produced in Fiji in the Mokosoi factory at Wailada in 1985, using the older trans-esterification technology.

Roberts and an associate Richard Noss brought the first equipment to Fiji in 1985. "It was believed that using coconut would provide a substantive saving to Fiji compared with the cost of importing regular diesel from petroleum sources."

But in 1985 the cost of coconut oil was too high and the price of regular diesel was too low for the trials to be considered profitable, after the initial proving that the system did work by providing an alternative fuel, he added.

The two associates encouraged the American holder of the patents for the catalyst to visit Fiji and to modularise the design of the equipment to make it more suitable for the logistics of small Pacific Island countries.

On how many jobs would be created once production got underway, Roberts said each regional site could require four to six employees as operators, depending on the number of shifts required to be worked, plus others involved in the movement of copra and the copra meal.

Roberts said the company was now ready to produce bio fuel on a regular basis as soon as the laboratories in Houston give it the green light.

1 comment:

Timmo said...

This precess is ideal for the islands. No flamable materials like methanol and no waste product like dirty water from biodiesel. The system has to be simple enough for the islands to produce using the natural resources available to them. With the combined labor of the island people collecting nuts (that they can get paid for) and the diesel typicaly supplied they can stretch the diesel twice as far as it typically lasts.