A Favorite Snack, Now a Favorite Fuel
February 24, 2017 marked the beginnings of Maui’s first biofuel crop of sunflowers. Kimokeo Kapahuleha gave the blessings for the 115-acre parcel while members of Pacific Biodiesel Technologies participated in the ceremony. Pacific Biodiesel has leased the parcel from Maui Tropical Plantation Owner and Developer Mike Atherton for the largest biofuel project in the state of Hawaii. In an area that was previously used to grow sugar cane lies the land itself at the corner of Honoapi’ilani Highway and Kuihelani Highway.

So why biofuel?

Environmentalists are urging communities to decrease their carbon footprint on the land. For this reason, Pacific Biodiesel planted sunflowers because it’s oil burns cleaner preventing harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Right now, most of the oil is being used for utility power generation. Another use is as a back-up source of energy for Hawaii’s grid powered by solar or wind energy.
Hopefully in the future we will see more biofuel being used for heavy duty transportation like in trucks or ocean tugs. Currently, sunflower seed oil can be used in any diesel or turbine engine. Already there are two stations on Maui that sell biofuel, one in Kahului on Hobron Street and the other in Lahaina on Kupuohi Street.

Even though sunflowers are a fast growing 90-day crop there are many expenses linked to bringing the crop to harvest. These guys at Pacific Biodiesel are so smart. Do they throw away the rest of the plant after they crush seeds for oil? Nope, they use all the plant like the leaves. The leaves can be used as a food source for livestock. Even better, the crop is Non-GMO which means no nasty pesticides in our food chain.

Other uses include, cooking oil, fertilizer, and reef-safe sunscreen. Growing sunflowers is a great way to develop a cleaner healthier fuel for our environment. And, Pacific Biodiesel has designed a way to make biofuel a cost-effective resource by using all the plant and growing all year. They like to call this their “Zero Waste Agriculture & Energy Model.” I like to call it pono (doing what is right).