Breakthrough: energy efficient fuel from tra and basa fish fat

August 24, 2006 | 18:00
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Vietnam’s leading catfish co-op Agifish has teamed up with SaigonPetro and two local refrigeration firms to produce a bio-fuel efficient enough to run diesel engines from the fat of tra and basa fish.

Agifish general director Ngo Phuoc Hau confirmed to Vietnam Investment Review last week that all parties have agreed to establish a joint venture for further development of the project, with Agifish and SaigonPetro contributing the major stakes.
Refrigeration firms Hung Vuong of Tien Giang province, and Viet An of An Giang province, plan to contribute 20 per cent each to the project. These firms will provide the materials for the project in future.
The product, a bio-fuel produced from tra and basa fat, is believed to be non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and more efficient than diesel. Yet it’s greatest selling point is that it generates far less exhaust, although nothing has been said of any associated stench.
According to Hau, production of fuel from fish fat was studied for more than a year and has been applauded by the national scientific council and local tra and basa fish farmers and processors.
“The project is now feasible on paper and should go ahead, but we still have to negotiate investment options and the location for a production plant before we can start,” he said.
The plant, Hau said, will be likely to be set up in the southern province of An Giang, where Agifish is located. He said a plant capable of producing 30,000 tonnes of fuel per annum. All equipment needed to run the plant would have to be imported.
As Mekong Delta provinces consume 400,000 tonnes of basa and tra every year, fish fat supply for the bio-fuel plant is more than assured, with 50,000 tonnes of fish fat to be provided by fish processors in the area.
Hau said Agifish and partners Hung Vuong and Viet An, would have more than enough sources to feed the project. Meanwhile, SaigonPetro, which has experience in producing and trading oil and gas products, will be charged with technical aspects of the business.

Agifish has recently set up a co-operative of “clean” farming members to produce catfish that meets international food safety standards. The co-op, comprised of 19 catfish farms, is expected to supply Agifish about 50,000 tonnes of “clean” tra and basa catfish a year.

Hau said this and another such co-op to be formed in future would be important sources for the plant to produce bio-fuel. Although he did not elaborate as to why food grade fish fat was important to the production of an engine fuel.

Catfish is a major export item for Vietnam, and recently large importers have been asking exporters in Vietnam, including Agifish, to manage fish purchasing and shipping instead of sourcing individual suppliers themselves.

In associated fishy news, the Ministry of Fisheries has embarked on a programme to establish a catfish quality control system with the ultimate goal of developing “Basa Vietnam” into an established brand.

The ministry’s brand development programme for basa and tra is in association with its effort to ensure sustainable development, competitiveness and product quality in the catfish farming sector. When the brand was in place, the sector would become an industrial spearhead with annual output of one million tonnes.

No. 775/August 21-27, 2006

By Nguyen Hong

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