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Egyptian Youth Turning Vegetable Oil Waste to Clean Energy

1 March, 2015
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Tagaddod is an Egyptian start-up in the field of renewable energies incubated by Flat6Labs in 2013. The company's first project is the production of biodiesel from the waste vegetable oils coming from our kitchens. The concept is to create a waste management solution and an alternative source of energy in the Egyptian market. We spoke with Nour El-Assal, CEO and co-founder of Tagaddod to find out more.

How did Tagaddod's idea for biodiesel production progress towards operation and how was your experience starting up with Flat6labs?
Well, working with Flat6labs has been extremely enriching, it gave us access to all the resources and network we needed to develop our concept of a lean-startup; producing the most output with the least resources, and basically continuously improve the product till it reaches its best form with the least amount of capital invested.

We designed and manufactured the machine producing biodiesel from vegetable oil through a simple chemical process. At first we wanted to sell the machine, but found no market for it in Egypt. And so we went on to certify the biodiesel we produced from the Egyptian Chemistry Administration at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and started operating. The first machine based on a lean start-up produced about a quarter of a ton per day of biodiesel. Now, with other experienced people onboard, we are up scaling the machine's capacity to increase output to two and a half, to five tons per day.

Who do you work with to get your raw materials?
So far we work with companies such as Travco, covering hotels in Madinet Makadi in Hurghada, by providing them with a waste management service; collecting their oil, turning it to biodiesel and selling it back to them. We try to look for environmentally aware organizations.

We also raise awareness amongst households through the Green Pan Campaign. Through an online registration, individuals can take part by storing their oil instead of pouring it down their pipes, which we then pick up every month. We have more than 600 women registered with us, half of whom are active. We collect from about thirty to forty women every month. Currently we cover the area from 6th of October to Rehab and want to increase our efficiency in the heart of Cairo. Some restaurants like El Omda and household-run catering businesses support us as well.

How do you foresee this project expanding?
At the moment we're focusing on production in terms of technology and up scaling, since we're a small team our resources are limited. At a later stage when production is at its best and we have gathered a couple of success stories, we'll develop a more comprehensive outreach program and target other governorates in Egypt. Entering the international market is another long term potential.

What future projects in renewable energy do you plan for?
We'd like to work with seeds like Jatropha, poisonous by nature and inedible to animals. It grows in the desert and would be perfect for us to use its oil extract for biodiesel production. In the long term, we're looking into adding on other sources of renewable energy, such as solar and geothermal. But we're taking it one step at a time.  

Image: FreeImages/S.JWijnolst.

Tags biodiesel biofuel used cooking oil Recycling jatropha Tagaddod fuel Energy Efficiency Climate change fossil fuels alternative fuels community service