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Posted on  

March 12, 2001

Thai farmer's coconuts fuel green hopes

A Thai farmer has found his own solution to global warming and the stagnation of Thailand's rural economy -- his coconuts.

"Coconut trees can do everything," said Kitti Maneesrikul, a village primary school teacher and coconut farmer in Samut Songram province, 75 km (47 miles) south of Bangkok.

"You have food from the flesh, wood from the trunk, drink from the juice...and now I've had coconut oil in my car engine for four months," he said.

Environmentalists say Kitti's coconuts offer cheap and clean fuel which could be copied by others to help millions of poor farmers across Southeast Asia and other tropical regions.

Coconuts have long provided a staple income for Thai farmers but only recently has their oil been used for fuel.

Oil is extracted from the dried flesh of coconuts and used for frying. After using it for cooking, Kitti filters the oil and adds a small amount of kerosene -- one part per 20 -- to give it a little extra "kick."

The fuel is suitable for trucks and industrial engines, does more miles per gallon and is 30 percent cheaper than diesel.

Kitti and his family use the coconut oil in a pick-up truck and a lorry, saving about 5,000 baht ($115) a month.

"I make about 300 litres of fuel each week," he said. "I prefer to buy used coconut oil from street stall vendors who have used it to fry donuts, but you can use pure coconut oil.

"We are buying used oil which otherwise would be thrown away, often into the river. Secondly, the fuel is much cleaner than diesel."  


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