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Engineer makes cheap bio-fuel from surplus catfish fat
April 17, 2007, 09:39 AM

AN GIANG — Processing fat from catfish, which otherwise pollute Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, Ho Xuan Thien, an engineer with the Agifish An Giang, a seafood processing company, has successfully produced a bio-fuel – a kind of clean diesel - for only VND6,500 per litre for automobiles.

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta produces over 30,000 tonnes of catfish fat annually. Though it is used to produce lubricants and as fish feed, a surplus remains unused, polluting the environment.

While vegetable oil has been processed as bio-fuel for a long time around the world, Thien was motivated by his son, a doctoral student at Oxford University, to experiment with catfish fat. "I came to have a comprehensive understanding of the product and processes involved in transforming catfish fat into bio-fuel, thanks to research papers and related documents provided by my son," said Thien.

However, the process was much more complicated than Thien initially expected. It took many experiments to fix technical parameters, condition and catalysts for each physical and chemical reaction at each refining stage to finish the process.

Thien was ably supported by his team consisting of Vu Tran Tan Quoc, a mechanical engineer, Vo Thi Dao Chi, an agricultural expert from An Giang University, and Nguyen Quynh Nhu, a fresh graduate engineer.

The team was fully funded by Thien and worked at the laboratory of the An Giang University.

While the first sample found favour with the Viet Nam National Institute of Standards and Technology, the second sample, with the colour of cooking oil and nil exhaust, received the approval of the institute.

"Bio-fuels can be used as a substitute for petroleum, which is scarce and pollutes the environment. They are also environmental-friendly and can be produced at low cost. The bio-fuel produced from fish fat will decrease pollution and add more value for catfish," said Vo Tong Xuan, head of the An Giang University.

Thien now has sixty regular customers with a top single order for 2000 litres per month. In addition to bio-fuel, catfish fat can also be used to produce glycerine (used popularly in dyeing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics) and fertilisers.

Source: (Source: VNS)
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