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Turning Olive Oil Waste Into Clean Energy

Olive trees have been growing in Israel for thousands of years. Today, more 81,000 acres of olive orchards in Israel produce between 15,000 and 16,000 tons of extra-virgin olive oil every year. Olive oil extraction typically leaves around 40% of the olive harvest behind as waste, creating some 80,000 tons of olive pomace in Judea & Samaria and Gaza each year.  While the use of the olive oil leftovers is becoming a trend in cosmetics and health goods, a trio of graduates in the Gaza Strip are marketing an innovative energy product, bringing sustainable, affordable energy to the region. Tamer Abo Motlaq, 26, Usama Qudaih, 24, and Khaled Abo Motlaq, 24 have recently founded the Olive Jift Project, a start-up that transforms "jift" – a byproduct of olive oil pressing – into fuel pellets for domestic and industrial use. "Not only do the jift pellets help to disperse this waste, they also prevent over-logging of citrus trees for firewood. And the pellets are more efficient too”, said Tamer.  "Regular firewood burns for four to five hours while a jift block burns for seven to 10 hours”, he said. “The pellets are also cheap, costing about $150 a ton for the company to make, which translates to about half the local price of a kilogram of firewood”. The pellets are already finding success. Having marketed them to local outlets and on social media, demand for the olive jift pellets has already exceeded supply. "We were surprised that despite our production rate of 1,000 kg per hour we often run out of jift,"  said Tamer.  The company hopes to double its production capacity, workforce, and engineering staff next year. (VFI News)