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Low-cost, low-energy Biofuel discovered in Firewood trees of Africa

First Posted: Dec 29, 2016 11:36 AM EST
Trees in Africa that grow biofuels.

Trees in Africa that grow biofuels.(Photo : Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A recent discovery made in Africa can change the face of energy production and consumption. Croton megalocarpus tree is widely grown in East and Central Africa but is rarely used for anything other than firewood. However, croton holds far greater potential than that.

Alan Paul, a serial entrepreneur, researched croton much earlier than he setup his company, Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) to learn more about its latent potential. His previous investigation piqued his interest when the low hanging fruit of this treat showed signs of greater promise.

EFK is now pioneering the movement to bring Croton biofuel in the mainstream. The highly potent nuts grown on this tree are storehouse for oil and protein that can be used as clean alternative to diesel, that too at a minimal cost, PennState Extension reported.

According to Paul, the company took small, steady steps into the industry to avoid mistakes like jatropha. He also added that these trees can be grown localy and organically, unlike Jatropha that was exotic to Africa, thus reducing the cost of manufacturing significantly.

EFK managing director Myles Katz also explains how their initiative will help the farmers in the process. He says that the company can purchase nuts from the farmers directly, helping them generate steady income. At the same time, the company already has a working model that does not require millions of dollars in funding just to "get off the ground."

EFK has already started getting the word out to local entrepreneurs for continual supply of nuts. The network of smallholders was immediately intrigued and began participating when they realized that their formerly useless trees can now generate a solid income, CNN reported.

Croton production doesn't require state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities as compared to conventional fuels. It has a simple manufacturing process that uses croton nuts for the extraction of fuel.

For now, the company is selling its biofuel to local businesses that operate using generators. EFK is firming up its foothold by working with local suppliers and using local approach.

Researchers believe that croton has all that it takes to become a successful biofuel. All it needs is proper efforts, in terms of funding and adequate research, to make it marketable and mainstream.

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