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PNG islanders drive cars on coconut power

The common coconut has taken on a new role in the tiny country of Papua New Guinea - fuel provider. Several mini-refineries are being set up to produce a coconut oil that, over time, shall replace diesel.

world Updated: May 10, 2007 13:54 IST

Residents of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea have found an ingenious and indigenous solution to high-energy prices: the ubiquitous tropical fruit - coconut.

The islanders are developing mini-refineries to produce a coconut oil that can eventually replace diesel.

Residents say coconut oil has not only made them less dependant on expensive fuel, which had to be imported into the island, but enquiries about the fuel have even come from overseas, including countries such as Iran and Europe.

Matthias Horn, a German migrant and an engineer, who is operating one the several coconut oil refineries on the island, said that the oil is not only cheap but also environment-friendly.

"They sometimes refer to me as the 'Mad German' because how can you do that to your car… filling it with some coconut juice that you normally fry your fish in,” he said.

“The coconut tree is a beautiful tree. Doesn't it sound good if you really run your car on something which falls off a tree? And that's the good thing about it; you run your car and it smells nice and it's environmentally friendly and that's the main thing," the BBC quoted him, as saying.

ht epaper

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