Vietnam To Squeeze Biofuel From Catfish To Run Diesel Engines

Catfish exporter Agifish plans to turn catfish fat into biofuel to run diesel engines, with industrial-scale production set to start next year, an official of the firm said July 4.

The company said it had won government approval to build a factory in the southern Mekong delta province of An Giang and produce about 10 million liters of the fuel per year. "We have received the green light from the government to commercialize the fuel from 2007 and build a plant to process 10,000 tons of catfish a year. The fuel will be used for diesel engines in the domestic market."

Thien said the company had found a way to make about one liter of biofuel from one kilogram of fat and oil from the whiskered sweetwater fish and had already used the fuel to run pumps in its fish farms. "We have carried out tests since 2004 in laboratories in Ho Chi Minh City, and they have shown that the catfish biofuel is very good," said Ho Xuan Thien, chief engineer of the company's technical department.

Vietnam, which booked 8.4% economic growth last year, has major offshore oil and gas reserves but lacks refineries, making it reliant on petroleum imports and vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations.

Meanwhile, biofuel reseachers at the Center for Petrochemical Technology in the former Saigon plan to mix waste cooking oil with diesel to make a cheaper fuel, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported July 4. In the two-year pilot project, used cooking oil will be collected from restaurants, hotels and food factories in Vietnam's largest city, also reducing the amount of pollution in streams and rivers, the report said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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