Can Coconuts be used for an Alternative Fuel Source?

With fuel cost rising and environmental effects oil refineries have, we need a better way. Several wars in the Gulf regions have caused oil prices to rise. Transport of oil disrupts human populations, animal and fish life of these regions. Between oil waste dumping, production pollution, and oil spills destroy wildlife and the surrounding areas. The current oil production threatens extinction of several plants, harms land, air, sea animals, and plant species.

Oil companies dump tons of toxic waste each year.

Oil companies and refineries are responsible for dumping tons of toxic wastes into nearby waters. Gas and oil pipelines have polluted creeks, rivers, prime pastures and cropland. Bays and lagoons near refineries smell from oil spills and runoff of toxic chemicals. The largest danger is to wildlife that habits these areas. Animal and plant life that meets with physical contamination are marine animals, reptiles, bird that feed by diving or form flocks on the sea, marine life on shorelines, and animals and plants near the contaminated area.

Is there an alternative to oil?

Alternatives to oil, gas, and diesel exist that countries will not consider. The production cost is expensive and hard on car engines. One such alternative uses coconut oil for biofuels. When Mr. Diesel designed his first car it did not run on diesel, but on peanut oil. During World War II limited supplies of diesel demanded alternative fuel solutions.

In the 1860’s copra production used by Pacific island cultures was a valuable commercial product for merchants in the South Seas and South Asia. Copra production extracts coconut oil by removing the shell, breaking up and drying coconut meat. Coconuts are split in half using an ax, water drained, and left for two days face up in the sun. Coconut meat removed from the shell sits on racks to dry. Final drying stages use large kilns.

Coconuts used for fuel during WWII.

During World War II, the Philippines had a shortage of oil and gas. To run cars, generators, boats, and stoves residents used coconut oil from copra. Coconut oil can easily replace diesel as a fuel or blended with diesel. Fuel blends studies show long-term engine durability is questionable when blends contain more than 20% vegetable oil. Using pure coconut oil in a standard engine is low-cost and attractive. Running engines on coconut oil needs special considerations.

Coconut oil is 30 times higher in viscosity than regular diesel running at the same temperature. Cars using coconut oil, the fuel tanks use heaters. Heat exchanges between the engine coolant and fuel. Coconut oil solidifies below temperatures of 25°C and electric heater in fuel tanks keeps the oil from solidifying.

Adjustments to engines would include a start and stop on diesel. Engines would start using diesel and when the engine performs at rated temperatures cars fuel supply switches to coconut oil. Just before engines shut down fuel supply switches back to diesel. This will ensure engines have diesel ready for a cold start. . In the 1990’s Ouvéa New Caledonia sets up a pilot program to test the use of coconut oil as an alternative to diesel fuel. Car fuel system started and stopped on pure coconut oil. Special injector, dedicated fuel pumps and extra filters were installed in each car.

Benefits for using coconuts for an alternative fuel source.

Fuel flexibility and low added cost are the main advantage of adapting engines. Coconut oil shows a decline of visible particles in exhaust and increased lubricity for engines. Loss of guarantee from engine manufacturers is the major disadvantage of using coconut oil as biofuels. The second disadvantage to using coconut oil needs higher loads, as low loads result in heavy deposits in car's combustion chamber, parts, reducing engine life. The United States fully developed standards of biodiesel ASTM-D 6751 which upholds the guarantee of engine manufacturer.

Using coconut oil instead of diesel has environmental benefits.

Replacing diesel with coconut-oil has potential environmental benefits. Coconut oil decreases emitting poisonous gases and particulate matter through higher oxygen content. Production of coconut oil creates a local industry that substitutes fuel imports and benefits fragile Pacific island countries. The coconut-oil cake makes fodder to feed horses and cattle. In the 1890’s Northern Europe used copra for eatable fat when dairy fats were unavailable. Copra has many industrial uses that include manufacturing soaps, detergents, shampoos, synthetic rubber, and glycerin. Coconut oil has a high percentage of lauric acid, which resists oxidation and rancidity. Confectioners and bakers use coconut oil in products that may stand for a time after made.

Coconut oil manufacturing from copra has environmental advantages to refineries that produce oil. Because of the diverse group of countries, their small-size, geographical location, and prone to natural disasters companies do not consider coconut oil as an alternative to diesel. In recent years this has changed because of the cost of energy imports exceeding earnings from product exports.

Many Pacific island countries are developing copra plants to extract coconut oil to use as an alternative energy. In 2007 the Papua New Guinea project was in full-scale oil production. The island had two oil presses, two press filters, 20.000 liter of holding tanks and a single copra shredding machine. With only six staff members the factory could produce 1200 kg of copra each day producing 700-800 liters of coconut oil. As you see it is possible for Pacific islanders with the support of the larger countries to produce needed coconut oil for fuel.

What is happening to the environment?

Oil producing countries, oil refineries, and car makers have to consider what they are doing to the environment. If we do not stop stripping oil from the land, pollution, and potential harm to the ozone layer we will not have much left. Pollution alone is destroying rivers, oceans, natural feeding grounds, wildlife and marine life. Alternative energy is necessary for restoring order and balance of nature. Copra produces fuel to run diesel motors, food for livestock, edible fats, soaps, detergents, shampoos, synthetic rubber, and glycerin.


Ann Johnston

About Ann Johnston

Ann enjoys writing, reading, gardening, fishing and the great outdoors. Her job has allowed her to travel and live in different countries. She enjoys studying and learning about different cultures.

Ann Johnston

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