Muqbil Al-Khalaf: A Saudi who converted waste of Date Palm Trees into Coal

A young man in Saudi Arabia has effectively put into action a plan to change the leftovers of date palm trees into logs and coal. It is environmentally safe and most effective idea to use the fruit. Recently Tawfiq Al-Rabia, minister of commerce and industry rewarded Muqbil Al-Khalaf, CEO, and founder of the project, with the prize of SR 500,000 for his inventive project and honored him with the Industrial Innovation Award. The Badir Program for Technology Incubators at the KACST (King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology) supported and funded the whole project.[irp]

The program was arranged by the Modon (Saudi Industrial Property Authority). The main aim and objective of Modon are to encourage the local industrial zone and promotes Saudi inventors to transform their ideas into brilliant industrial projects.  Al-Khalaf a dedicated and enthusiastic person completed his graduation from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). He entered the professional life as a banker. Later, he started the wholesale garments business in Dubai and Riyadh. He tried his fate in the stock market also when the market was doing well but he had born great failures. He joined different professions and fields. After bearing a loss in stock market he was provoked to move to the date palm business.

Al-Khalaf said he observed that date palm wastage was discarded and thrown away in the farms and burned out. He wanted to find a way to re-use this profitless huge waste. He further stated he went through an article by a Malaysian scientist which inspired him a lot. The article is about the Malaysian experience in converting natural waste to a piece of paper. He started setting up the plant with the purpose of converting date palm leftovers in 2011. Next year in 2012, he began establishing the plant in Zulfi, which was known as the first industrial plant of its kind in the Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

After the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF) backed off from funding his project, He gained financial support from the Kafala Program. The Kafala program assured him to cover 30 percent of the expenditure of the project with 13 percent interest rate. He had discussed his project also with the SIDF (Saudi Industrial Development Fund), but he was told that the projects which are worth and valued more than 8 million Saudi Riyals are funded by the development fund.

Al-Khalaf said that in the beginning, he had faced many problems and difficulties. He hired a Chinese company to work on the project but the company left the project in between without finishing it. He has since received damages package of $100,000. Al-Khalaf said that In December 2012, the experiential process of the plant started and up to now 190 tons of date palm tree remnants has been used in producing 60 tons of logs (firewood) and 40 tons of charcoal. The products were sold at economical cost and these products were popularly priced.[irp]

He said the plant is working at the design capacity of 15 percent production and estimated to touch the maximum limit which is about 40-percent production power till winter. He further added that upon successfully touching its maximum capacity, the requirement of the plant to produce 3,500 tons of firewood and coal per year will be 12,000 tons of date tree waste. The Zulfi area has 600,000 date palm trees, which is more than enough. And adequate to provide and supply to the plant according to its requirement of raw material throughout the year.

Source: Arab News

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