UAEU research team extracts date seed oil to make biofuels

A research team from the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) was able to accomplish a qualitative research project to extract the largest possible quantity of date seeds’ oils for the biofuel industry.

The project was completed within two years at a cost of one million dirhams, and it is published in top ranked journals.

Commenting on the achievement, Dr. Emad Eldeen Elnajjar, an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the College of Engineering and a chair of the Research Team, said that the research findings was valuable for utilising 100 percent of date seeds waste in the UAE.

Dr. Elnajjar pointed out that the goal is to examine the possibility of principal use of the largest possible amount of oils resulting from date seeds in the biofuel industry.

The study found that 90 percent of the output of date seeds waste after oil extraction is used in the pyrolysis process, so that fuel such as hydrogen gas, methane gas, carbon monoxide gas and the remaining product from the waste as the key component of charcoal, can be extracted. This helps in using 100 percent of the date seeds.

“There are more than 40 million palm trees in the UAE that annually approximately produce one million tons of date seeds, 10 percent can be extracted as oils, so we have 100,000 tons of oils that can be converted into biofuels. The waste about 900,000 tons can be used in gaseous pyrolysis, and the final waste is used in other applications, particularly agriculture as fertiliser,” Dr. Elnajjar noted.

He explained that most of the data analysis were carried out in the UAEU’s laboratories. This study intended to conduct a full analysis to characterise Date Seed before and after oil extraction.

Date seeds, which constitute 6-15% of the total weight of the ripe date are actually a byproduct of date fruit and are largely produced in the Middle East and especially in the United Arab Emirates. It is normally discarded, used as animal feed ingredient or turned into non caffeinated coffee by the Arabs. Date seeds are composed of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, fat, ash and protein. In addition, the antioxidant content in date seed oil (DSO) was found to be similar with olive oil, which can be as a good source of antioxidant in order to fulfill the consumer’s requirements.

Date seeds are the by-product of date stoning, either for the production of pitted dates or for the manufacture of date paste. The date seed is a hard coated seed, usually oblong, ventrally grooved, with a small embryo. Date pits weigh 0.5 g to 4 g and represent 6 to 20% of the fruit weight depending on maturity, variety and grade.

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