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Olives, nature's fuel, are powering the south.

Summary: The villagers of south Lebanon's Marjayoun and Hasbaya have found a new way to heat their homes and power their machines:

HASBAYA, Lebanon: The villagers of south Lebanon's Marjayoun and Hasbaya have found a new way to heat their homes and power their machines: compressed pellets made from by-products of olive pressing. "Today, everyone is using this new development for their central heating system at chicken farms, animal pens, houses, factories, schools and so on," Rashid Zwaihed, owner of an olive press and director of the Al-Nahda Al-Elmiya School, told The Daily Star. "We even use it to produce steam, which powers the machines used to process the olives. It's nature's petrol that does no harm."

Villagers from the area, alongside villagers from the nearby Bint Jbeil, grow olives to press for oil but have started using the byproducts for power.

The olive pulp, made of leftover olives and pips after the oil pressing process, is churned up until it becomes soft.

This pulp was once thrown away, but today, farmers are compressing the softened olive waste into solid pellets that they can burn as a source of heating and to power machines.

The pellets are now used as a substitute for diesel and gas. They are either used by the olive farmers or are sold to people to warm their houses alongside firewood.

"We got warmth from the [pulp left over from] olive oil," said Zwaihed, who has turned the schools' diesel-powered heater for the central heating system into a boiler that runs on the compressed olive pulp mixture instead.

"[It] saves money and preserves the environment and my students enjoy the natural warmth," he added.

Anwar Abu Ghaida, who owns an olive press in Hasbaya, said he had benefited from the olive peat pellets in many ways in his work.

"I use it to fuel the fire, to produce steam and hot water," he said. "I urge all olive farmers to benefit from this pure petrol instead of throwing it away."

The owner of a poultry and livestock farm, Abu Hilmi, said that his regular fuel consumption is now negligible. "My chicken farm and pens are warmed by a boiler fueled by the olives of our land," he said. "We were ignorant when we were throwing away the olive by-products before, [but they are] a blessed tree for all."

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Oct 23, 2017
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