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Rescue 'green fuel' project plea in Bahrain

Manama, September 12, 2010

A plea is going out to rescue a 'green' scheme to turn used vegetable oil into fuel for diesel vehicles, such as trucks.

It is hoped the Economic Development Board, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, would take a decision on the issue soon.

In August last year, Manama Municipal Council invited specialised companies from around the world to submit proposals, which could include setting up a vegetable oil refining plant in Bahrain.

Numerous companies came forward to present their proposals for the project, but the Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Ministry has done nothing since, say councillors.

They had hoped to make Bahrain the first GCC country to have cars and trucks running on used vegetable oil, as a green alternative to diesel.

The scheme followed a visit by councillors to various states in the US in July last year.

One hope was that it would mean an end to the dumping of used cooking oil on the streets or down the drains, by restaurants and householders.

'The Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Ministry has just left the project without taking action on assessing offers by specialised companies, despite calls by the leadership to look for alternatives to regular fuel,' said council technical committee chairman Hameed Al Basri.

'They spent money on my trip, along with other councillors, to study implementing it in Bahrain and then a year later nothing has been done.

'I am leaving the council by the end of October, when a replacement will take my place through elections.

'But I am willing to carry on helping to get the project started, even if my tenure as a consultant for the project is over.

'I am already planning to knock on the EDB's door, seeking support.

'This pioneering project has attracted attention from countries around the world and letting it go like this means that a chance to increase resources is lost.'

He said he was hoping the Crown Prince would resurrect the scheme, rather than leave it 'sitting in someone's drawer'.

Al Basri, who prepared a brief report on the benefits of the project last year, said that many drains get blocked with waste vegetable oil because restaurants and households have no other use for it after cooking.

He said then that Bahrain has taken a huge step in recycling with a number of companies in the country recycling different kinds of waste like food, cans, glass and other materials, but so far nothing had been done to refine used cooking oil.

Most diesel-powered vehicles can be modified to run on used vegetable oil and the scheme is already being operated commercially in the US, said Al Basri.

However, the refined cooking oil has to be first heated to the required temperature to liquify it. One solution involves equipping a vehicle with two fuel tanks - one for regular diesel fuel and the other for vegetable oil.

'The engine is started on diesel, switched over to vegetable oil as soon as it is warmed up and switched back to diesel shortly before being switched off, to ensure that no vegetable oil remains in the engine or fuel lines when it is started from cold again,' explained Al Basri.

He added that vehicle modifications were relatively inexpensive to carry out.

'All of those enhancements would just cost $1,200 (BD453), but would hugely benefit users and the community - considering it is cost-saving and environmentally friendly,' he said.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Environment | motoring | Vegetable oil | Green fuel |

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