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Cordoba to host first biofuel plant to use olive waste


The plant located in Cañete de las Torres (Córdoba) is the first in the world to use the Japanese Kurata system to obtain ecological second-generation fuels using olive cake. It is designed to accept any type of biomass and has a production capacity of 10,000 tonnes per annum

The facility, inaugurated by the Minister of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Rosa Aguilar, is the first to employ the Japanese Kurata system. This technology allows gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel to be produced from hydrogen- and carbon-rich waste, such as oil and its derivatives, or waste biomass including waste vegetable oils, olive cake, sewage treatment sludge, etc. In this case, the system will produce biofuel mainly from olive waste, although it also may also use used oil.

An investment of €14 million was required to develop the plant, which is surrounded by more than 100,000 hectares of olive groves providing the 30,000 tonnes of olive cake needed to produce 10,000 tonnes of biofuels a year. An amount which Plant Director, Julio Torres, estimates "will cover the fuel demand of about 20,000 cars each year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80%".

The Torres Group, which owns the facility and the operating rights to the Kurata system in Europe and America, plans to quadruple Cañete’s production to reach 40,000 tonnes per year. It will also increase the number of plants in Spain when it opens a second plant in Barajas de Melo (Cuenca) next autumn, which will treat plastics, and another in mid-2012 in Almeria to convert vegetable waste into biofuels.

All the Kurata plants are designed to be installed in areas where waste is generated. This guarantees a supply of low-cost raw materials and reduces CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. In the case of Cañete, Group Chairman, Juan Torres, explains, "the plant allows the reuse of waste such as olive cake, which is a contaminant and is an environmental problem".

Compared to other types of energy systems, Kurata plants are safe, do not pollute, have zero emissions and generate only between 2% and 5% of safe waste which also can be reused as soil fertilizer. According to calculations by the business group, each tonne of biodiesel produced will generate a profit of about €200, which will enable it to amortise its investment within five years, without any public funding.

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