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Vol. 24 No.1
January - March 2007

ISSN 0125-0159



Editorial
Editor's Note
Special Feature
Sufficiency Economy
Philosophy
Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul: The Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy for the World
Product
Pattani Salt: The Fair Trade Culture of Buy Ten and Get One Free
Culture
The Mekong: The River of Life and Culture
Energy
Biodiesel Comes to Fuel Users’ Rescue
In Focus
Recycling for Art’s Sake, at Wat Suwannaram
Travel
Apae Amor, the Outstanding Akha Guide at Akha Hill House
Thai Touch
The Diving Paradise of Ko Tao
Keyword Search

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Biodiesel Comes to Fuel Users’ Rescue

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has proved that he has the vision to help his subjects in every aspect of their lives -- even energy. Because the nation depends mainly on imported fuel, the people lack alternatives and are likely to suffer from fuel shortages in the future.



His Majesty the King therefore instructed staff of his royally initiated palm oil promotion project to extract and refine palm oil for the production of biodiesel. The operation started as a community-based project at the Pikul Thong Development and Study Center in Narathiwat province, where the center has been processing palm oil into many products, including some for consumers. Originally it promoted palm oil extraction at the household level, but in 2000, when His Majesty the King recommended that palm oil be used to fuel agricultural machines, it was also used in tractors at the center. The introduction proved to be successful on all fronts, as biodiesel does not pose an ignition problem, engines do not give off many fumes, the exhaust does not smell bad, and acceleration is normal. Also, biodiesel is compatible with most diesel-fueled engines without a tune-up. And along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, it makes engines more durable because it better lubricates them.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn soon began to encourage coastal fishermen in Narathiwat province to fuel their small boats with biodiesel from the Pikul Thong Development and Study Center. Initially, participants were fishermen from Ban Pula Kapeh village of Kaluwo Nua subdistrict and Ban Chumchon Tha Rua 2000 village of Bang Nak subdistrict, both in Mueang Narathiwat district. And now the project is attracting more and more fishermen from nearby areas.



Today the Pikul Thong Development and Study Center is equipped with a large-capacity machine capable of extracting liquid glycerin from fatty acids. There is also a biodiesel pump with a nozzle at the methyl ester plant of the center, where vehicles come in to fuel up from the 1,000-liter biodiesel tank. Biodiesel production costs less than 20 baht a liter, and every 100 kilograms of raw palm nuts yields some 20 liters of biodiesel.

At present, Thailands commercial biodiesel plant is operated by a cooperative of oil palm farmers in Khlong Yao subdistrict of Ao Luk district, Krabi province. This prototype commercial plant is producing 10,000 liters of biodiesel a day.

Biodiesel is a good choice for an alternative fuel, at a time when the nation needs to reduce its consumption of fossil energy, cut its imports, and protect the environment. Hopes of depending on biodiesel in a time of expensive fuels are growing and prompting all parties concerned to wake up to the problem and take serious steps to develop this alternative fuel. If everybody turns to biodiesel, Thailand should be able to save considerably on fuel imports today and in the future.


Story: Wudhichai Assawinchaichote
Photos: Apichai Suananantapoom



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