COCONUT OIL SEEN AS ALTERNATE FUEL SOURCE

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By B. Chen

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Mar. 30) – According to Timothy Jones, owner and manager of Extreme Samoa, a locally based company that focuses primarily on generators and power generation, his company is currently in the middle of breakthrough experiments involving the burning of coconut oil as an alternative diesel fuel source.

Jones said that last year he dedicated a large part of his time and nearly $20,000 to researching the possibilities of burning coconut oil as an alternative diesel fuel source by conducting several crude experiments into the potential BTU heating value of the by-product, or waste left behind after the coconut oil was extracted from the nut.

He claims that the results were stunning, as the coconut waste (husk and shell), produced large quantities of heat when burned.

Jones explained, "This heat could be captured and turned to steam, which in turn could generate power via a steam turbine. If the exhaust heat from the coconut oil burned in the diesel engine was fed into the steam generation system in conjunction with the husk and shell burner, the cost of the power output drops dramatically, and the coconut becomes the fuel of choice. Now that we have a cost effective cycle, the next step is to evaluate the resource."

Jones discovered that "It takes roughly 50 coconuts to make a gallon of high quality burnable fuel. The by-product or waste begins to accumulate fast, although the skeptics say that resources in American Samoa are too small to take on such a project. Extreme Samoa believes that if people will go to great lengths to find aluminum cans worth a penny and Vailima bottles worth 15 cents and deliver them to a recycling station, it is our guess that they will do the same with the coconuts falling in their yard and in the hills."

Jones advised, "We should not underestimate the public's initiative and ability to acquire the resource if it exists in large enough volume."

Jones suggested that the local Department of Agriculture may better answer the question as to how many coconut trees exist in American Samoa.

"This will tell you where you are at, and what size of power plant to start with. A good long-term plan will grow the resource and increase the supply to the demand, allowing for larger power plants to consume the resource, however, it will not be easy. There will be skeptics that prefer begging Uncle Sam for money, instead of standing on their own."

Optimistically, Jones said, "This could very well be the first step towards financial independence for American Samoa, if that's what the leadership wants. At minimum, it should be an achievable goal."

Jones commented, "In a nut shell, the math is simple. Power is growing in demand and necessary here on the island, and the coconut has the means to contribute to that demand. (The key word is contribute.) Every gallon of coconut oil burned for power generation is a gallon that is not purchased from another country and imported. It slows the imports, which helps the economy to grow."

His motivation, according to Jones, was based on the "rising costs of diesel, not to mention the possibilities of a locally renewable resource."

Jones reported that at first, it appeared that diesel fuel would be the cheaper option, however, coconut oil burns much cleaner and appears to have positive effects on the equipment.

Jones discovered that the equipment maintained longer engine life due to the higher lubricity of coconut oil as compared to diesel fuel, which reduces wear on the high pressure fuel delivery systems and provides less engine ring friction in the combustion cycle.

"Environmentally speaking, coconut oil is a winner!" Jones exclaimed. "It burns very clean with zero carbon dioxide (CO2), zero nitrous oxide (NOX), and none of the cancer causing pollution found in diesel fuel. This all has long-term value, so it was decided to look deeper into the coconut or the possibilities of other natural oils," he added.

Jones pointed out that coconut oil is a very valuable commodity on the global market, far more precious than it would be as fuel.

But Jones predicts that once the processing of the oil is underway, "It would be prudent to attempt to export the oil first at a premium price before consuming it as fuel. And if the market will not bare a premium price for the oil, then burn it as fuel and cut back on the imports."

Jones referred to the down side of his efforts and said, "Here is where the process fails. Someone says they can't make money burning coconut oil for fuel. If it's not profitable, we won't do it! Our answer is simple, on an individual level - coconut oil may not be as profitable as fuel. BUT, in an economy of a country, it is always profitable to increase the exports or decrease the imports. Then you only need to look beyond your own bank account to see the value for the economy."

Jones concluded, "In places like American Samoa, there is little incentive to have the ingenuity or to take the initiative, because the United States provides for them. But in places like the independent state of Samoa, the Kingdom of Tonga, and other stand-alone Pacific Island countries, ingenuity and creativity is a necessary way of life. It is very likely that a power plant of greater than One Mega Watt, (1MGW), will be accepted and operated somewhere in the South Pacific by next year. Proposals from Extreme Samoa have already been sent to two unnamed Pacific countries, with more currently on the way."

According to their website, www.extremesamoa.com, "Pacific oil fields could mean that money does grow on trees!"

More information on Extreme Samoa can be obtained by logging on to their website, or by contacting Timothy Jones directly at his e-mail address: extreme-samoa.com.

Jones wrote, "It is our objective to make our website the beginning of a Polynesian Island economic revolution, therefore, any comments on how we can improve would be welcomed."

The website pages are under constant development in an effort to educate and promote coconut oil as an alternative to diesel fuel.

Alternative fuels are a hot topic these days. The recent interests in coconut oil versus diesel fuel captured the attention of Jones who has spent countless hours over the past year researching and understanding the full scope of coconut oil as fuel.

When Jones came to a conclusion that the benefits far outweigh any obstacles, he established a division inside the company to deal with coconut oil burning issues (such as engineering, promotion, economics and environmental), with the web page being the next step in Extreme Samoa's efforts to bring coconut oil into the public eye.

Still, there are skeptics who question why consider an alternative fuel source, if diesel is readily available and easy to work with.

Jones's answer: economic viability, environmental friendliness, less engine wear, and higher power yield per volume.

Referring to economic viability, Jones explained, "Unless you have oil fields in your back yard, every time you purchase diesel, you are sending your money to the country from which it came, mainly Saudi Arabia. It may not say 'Made in Saudi' on the fuel pump, but that's where it comes from, so that is where your money goes. Most South Pacific Islands have fragile economies that could greatly benefit from growing their natural resources, and cutting down on money leaving the island."

As an example, Jones used the independent state of Samoa which has a population density of approximately 270,000 and burns an estimated $10 million a year in diesel fuel.

"If you have ever been to Samoa, you have seen the miles and miles of coconut trees planted from years ago. This resource was developed, but never fully utilized. With today's technology and understanding of how coconut oil can be utilized as fuel, South Pacific countries like Samoa, Tonga, Ebey, etc., have an opportunity to become miniature oil fields with an all natural process of coconut oil harvesting," Jones pointed out as a matter of fact.

The Extreme Samoa manager referred to his second reason about coconut oil is environmentally friendly and said, "Coconut oil burns so clean that it could be listed as the fuel source of choice! It has absolutely no carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, or any other dangerous emissions commonly found in diesel. Even the best running engines burning diesel have accepted hazardous levels of emissions because there was no other choice. But now there is!"

With regard to producing less engine wear, Jones pointed out that coconut oil has a 20% higher lubricity than regular #2 diesel. "This means less friction and less engine wear and without long term analysis being available, we estimate 15%-20% longer engine life. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the savings based on that criteria. However, we do suggest that more studies need to take place under a better controlled environment."

Jones also claims that amazingly, coconut oil may yield 10% higher burning efficiency than diesel.

He explained, "This may occur because coconut oil contains significantly more oxygen molecules saturated in the oil. This provides more opportunities for combustion, resulting in complete and very clean combustion. The challenges aligned with efficiency are in the engineering of the fuel delivery system, but for the time being, Extreme Power has chosen to keep that information as a trade secret."

Extreme Samoa has discovered that a standard diesel engine can burn either coconut oil or diesel, which means that having a duel fuel system that can switch back and forth from diesel to coconut oil pending the availability of the preferred fuel source, protects against the down time of the machine if coconut oil supply can not keep up with the demand of the machine.

Jones says that investing in a generator that burns coconut oil is very safe regardless of the availability of coconut oil, and the unit does not need to be shut down if the supply of coconut oil runs short.

"This gives ample opportunity to develop the resource into the demand of the generator," he added.

Jones pointed out that the cost for a coconut oil burning generator is about the same as a regular generator, and the difference is focused on the fuel delivery system.

"The modifications are not complicated and require very little attention once installed. Most manufacturers will not warranty coconut oil on new machines because they are unfamiliar with it. Our company is familiar with it and we will warrantee all our machines installed to burn coconut oil and diesel," Jones concluded.

Extreme Samoa has rental units currently being outfitted to burn duel fuels (diesel and coconut oil). The sets are located in American Samoa and will be made available to view on the website once the retrofit is complete.

Jones, who operates under his company motto that "Extreme Samoa does what others say cannot be done - and we do it well," urges interested parties to e-mail Extreme Samoa at extreme-samoa.com to view the units.

April 6, 2004

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com

 

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