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Coconut Oil As Fuel For Remote South Pacific Locations: But How Can They Access The Oil?

This paper examines the technical factors and economic potential of using coconut oil (CNO) as a direct diesel fuel substitute for existing engines in remote locations in the South Pacific. The review of technical literature shows that CNO has successfully been used in diesel engines. The oil is the least reactive of all vegetable oils and should cause the least polymerisation and coking if properly injected. The main difficulties are: 1) CNO freezing at 24°C, preventing cold starting: 2) filters can clog up on crude CNO, and 3) leaky or poorly adjusted injectors can coke up. The most common operating procedure is a dual fuel system involving starting a cold engine on diesel and then switching to warm CNO. Die­ sel is used again before shutting down to clear CNO from the fuel injection system. Mixed fuels (e.g. 80 CNO:20 diesel) have also been used successfully.

The most critical technical problem is the ability of peo­ ple in remote locations to access the CNO their palms pro­ duce. The paper reviews the two most common techniques for producing CNO: the highly capital intensive technique based on copra and the labour intensive "kitchen method". Both are found wanting. An alternative technique, the direct micro process, achieves high extraction efficiencies at low pressures by finely shredding the coconut flesh and adjusting the moisture content to about 12%. The direct micro process originated in remote islands in the South Pacific. It produces clear virgin cold pressed coconut oil and appears to have enormous technical and economic potential.

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