Pilot carob fuel project receives green light

MORE THAN one million euros will be invested in a two-year pilot scheme to create bio ethanol from carobs in the Algarve.

The joint project between a group of carob and almond producers, AGRUPA – Agrupamento de Alfarroba e Amêndoa CRL, the University of the Algarve and the institute of engineering, technology and innovation (INETI), has been approved by the regional development commission, CCDR (see The Resident edition, May 16).

Funding for the project will come from the region’s operational programme, Programa Operacional do Algarve, and the national innovation agency.

According to the project’s director, Manuel Caetano, there will be two sides to making bio ethanol from carobs, one scientific and the other operational.

The University of the Algarve will work on the scientific part of the project, by extracting the sugar from the fruit and transforming it into alcohol, as well as constructing a small bio refinery in the university grounds within one year, to test the products made.

Another bio refinery plant will be up and running within three years and will have the capacity for around 10,000 tonnes in its first year, although, according to Manuel Caetano, the construction of other refineries is inevitable after the recent investment in the plantation of two million carob trees.

“This year, the production of carobs in the Algarve reached 55,000 tonnes and we expect this to increase to 80,000 tonnes within five years,” said Manuel Caetano.

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