South Africa has embarked on a sweeping programme to develop substitute fuels to help overcome its fuel crisis.
South Africa has embarked on a sweeping programme to develop substitute fuels to help overcome its fuel crisis. One area of research entails using sunflower oil in farmers' tractors, as an alternative to diesel. Agriculture Minister, Hendrik Schoeman, predicted in Pretoria on Monday (23 July) that sunflower oil could soon provide thousands of litres of fuel.
SYNOPSIS: For the past year, scientists have been carrying out intensive research in the use of sunflower oil as tractor fuel in places such as this laboratory in Pretoria. The Division of Agricultural Engineering has shown that tractors can run on pure sunflower oil without modifications, and with little or no loss of efficiency. Compared with diesel, consumption is about nine percent higher. The oil could be used in locomotives, diesel trucks and slightly-modified cars.
Mr. Schoeman drove a tractors himself to find out how efficient the sunflower oil was. The agriculture industry now uses almost twenty-five percent of South Africa's diesel supply. Whilee tests have been successful, more research is needed before this and alternative fuels come into use. Mr Schoeman said if each farmer allocated one tenth of his maize land for fuel, he would produce enough fuel to cultivate the rest of his land.
Test tractors have run on pure sunflower oil with only minor adjustments to the fuel pump, and the population of exhaust fumes is much lower than with diesel fuel. Mr Schoeman spelled out the advantages for south Africa, which is starved for fuel, and anxious for the future.