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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

SICHE signs deal to conduct biodiesel trial

By Joy A. Rikimae

The Solomon Islands College of Higher Education has signed an agreement through its School of Marine and Industrial Development with the Department of Mines and Energy to carry out trials on biodiesel fuel.

The biodiesel trial, which will be blended on pure coconut oil and diesel, is aimed at finding out if the blend could work on a bigger amount of coconut oil.

Kenneth Bulehite, Project officer of the Energy Department said, the energy department is responsible for fuel products in the country. Therefore, because of the expectation that the fuel price cannot go down, they are looking for possibilities to make use of the local resources. He said his department had been working on this trial project since last year, however, the capacity to operate the project was what delayed the trial. However, he said with the agreement with SICHE “we will run the trial”.

Mr Bulehite said it is good to work with the college because they have the capacity to train the country’s human resources. “This is because the important factor in running such exercises is to pass on the knowledge to others if findings show that the exercise is successful. At the same time the college too is the country’s only higher institution which deals with mechanical training,” the project officer said.

He said the School of Marine was selected because if the aim of a “coconut and diesel blend fuel" is met, it would be cheaper for our ships to operate on it.

Head of the School of Marine Lesley Lazarus said if the trial found that the blended fuel could work on a bigger amount of coconut oil then it would be an advantage for our local ships. He said for the college this is a new thing although Solomon Tropical Product has been doing it for quite sometime now. Solomon Tropical Product is working on coconut and kerosene blend. But kerosene has the risk of corrosion.

He said they are still unsure of what risks this trial will encounter, but he believed there are ways of reducing such risks and that will depend on the exercises that the trial will go through. The exercise will start with a sample blend mix this week, but the actual trial will begin in a couple of weeks. The project is funded under the government’s development budget.

Source: Solomon Star

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