Croton Nut Oil: Biofuel That Grows On Trees
Croton trees that grows throughout east Africa never served much of a purpose. Not until the discovery that croton nut oil can power diesel engines.
Alan Paul, an engineer and entrepreneur founded Eco Fuels Kenya in 2012. This is a zero waste operation that extracts fuel oil from croton nuts.
The left over nut pulp is turned into fertilizer. The biofuel from croton nut oil cost about $1 per liter which is 15 percent less than diesel and is more environment friendly.
There is no commercial croton farm and EFK has developed a network of collectors numbering around 2,000 in communities throughout Kenya.
Myles Lutheran, EFK's director of business development states that it takes only about two hours for a croton collector to earn what they could expect from a full day's labor.
He further stated that the aim of the company is to increase the income of the collectors without taking away from their income opportunities.
The company has sold all the biofuel it can produce and 150 tons of fertilizer. Revenue has exceeded $100,000 in its two-year pilot phase.
EFK plans to introduce chicken feed and biomass briquette products in the future as reported by Unreasonable.
The company took a low key approach, wary of high budget flops in the past such as the jatropha failure.
EFK managing director Myles Katz stated that their business model does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation for the croton nut oil business to take off.
EFK uses radio ads to attract local businesses to partner up with them. The network rapidly expanded when suppliers realized that gathering and supplying Croton nut was an easy and reliable source of income.
This had allowed EFK to double production each year. From 500 tons in 2015, the company was able to produce 1,000 tons in 2016 as reported by CNN.
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