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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 8) – Fiji may soon have a practical, environmentally friendly and economical fuel source if research at the University of the South Pacific is anything to go by.

Chemists at the University of the South Pacific’s School of Natural Resources believe that industries and individuals would be better placed in using non-toxic and biodegradable mono alkyl esters.

This fuel can be used in any diesel engine without any need for any modification, said Master of Science student Radhika Singh.

It is much cleaner in a sense that it wouldn’t clog your filters up.

The campus ongoing bio-fuel research has been sponsored by [South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission] SOPAC and is targeting a practical application of the energy source in industries.

The fuel is basically a mixture of oil and alcohol that the university has been developing since July last year. It can be used in place of kerosene.

This has not been done on a practical scale in Fiji before, said Chemistry Professor, Vincent Bowry.

Mr. Bowry said the raw materials for producing bio-diesel could be derived from waste oil or coconut oil.

The University of the South Pacific has been proving chemical expertise quality control and analysis of the bio-diesel. The benefits of bio-diesel are that it is highly biodegradable, non toxic, with a substantial reduction in carbon monoxide emission and environmentally friendly.

He said countries in Europe are using diesel that is blended with about 20 per cent of bio-diesel. Fiji uses 100 per cent diesel. The chemist hoped that regional countries could tap into bio-diesel given the abundance of raw materials like coconuts. Given the consistent fuel price hikes, the academic said bio-diesel could be seen as a cheaper alternative.

June 9, 2006

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