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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Only In Israel: Olive Pits To Power The World

Image: Genova's pilot plant in Julis (a Druze village), Credit: Israel 21st Century

With all of the other useful ways Israeli's are discovering to power our crowed planet, this by far has to be the most humorous (in a good way).

After consuming an olive, most people prefer to simply discard the pits, seeing them unfit for the stomach but fit to rot among all of God's creatures.

But one scientist has decided to take olive pits (along with other olive wastes) and find a way to convert into energy.

(Israel 21st Century) First, the olive waste is heated and dried and then it is introduced into the reactor. Here it undergoes two processes, pyrolysis and gasification, which involve the biomass being heated to 800 degrees centigrade, at which temperature its molecules break down. A combination of high-calorie gases including methane and carbon monoxide are produced which, because they are lighter than air, flow upwards through a pipe into a standard gas turbine to generate electricity in the usual way. The other by-product is coke, which can be turned into the active type of coke that can be sold for use to power air conditioners or as filters for various substances.

Harnessing the power of biomass is not a new industry and there are a number of companies around the world who are attempting to show that biomass can replace some of the fossil fuels we use, but Genova's technology employs a novel technique, which the company prefers not to disclose, for maintaining the high temperatures needed for the process. This technique means that "only ten percent of the electricity we produce is used to power the [olive waste conversion] process," Granot told ISRAEL21c. "The process is 90% efficient. Our competitors are only 50% efficient, at best." Thus, where the cost of a kilowatt/hour is 9 cents for the company's competitors, Genova's cost is only 2 cents per kw/h.

Granot's invention has attracted the attention from Australia, and the US, as well as from Israel Electric (the nations sole provider of electricity according to the article).

With the reduced savings, Granot will be able to invest more into his new invention which may help Israel (and eventually humanity) become more energy independent instead of relying upon foreign oil and gas for power.

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