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Crop Biotech Update

UAE University Scientists Test Date Palms as Source of Biodiesel

November 22, 2017

The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) has been providing food, leaves used to make baskets, and seeds that are burnt to produce charcoal to the people of UAE. Oils from date pits, the stones inside the dates, have gone into soap and cosmetics, while the seeds have been used as feed. However, date pits are still often considered waste.

Date pits contain small quantities of oil than some oil crops. But the fact that it comes from a waste product could make it special. Scientists at UAE University in Al Ain, the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi and Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus are now looking at date pits as a source of biodiesel. Researchers extracted oil from the Khalas date variety, yielding up to 11.7% relative to its weight.

The quality of the extracted oil was found to be similar to vegetable oils used to create biodiesel, and it can be converted into biodiesel with an efficiency of about 90%. The wide availability of date pits also suggests that it is a potentially suitable source of biodiesel. The scientists also believe that using date palm pits as sources of biodiesel would help the UAE to play its part towards sustainable fuels.

Researchers will now be refining methods for extracting oil and look further into what gases are produced.