Brassica napus (rapeseed plant) as it is known in English or nanohana in Japanese.

Rape blossoms in my schoolyard

Rape blossoms in my schoolyard

Campaign under way to use rape blossoms as car fuel

A project for using rapeseed cooking oil and its waste as car fuel, launched by Shiga Prefecture, is bearing fruit in other prefectures in Kansai, such as Hyogo, Fukui and Mie, and spreading to all parts of the country.

The project dates back to 1986 when red water in Lake Biwa, caused by waste cooking oil, became a serious problem. The pollution triggered a grass-root campaign in Shiga Prefecture to collect waste cooking oil and recycle it into environment-friendly powder soap. The campaign led to the establishment of an environment-friendly consumer cooperative, which started production of environment-friendly bio-engineered diesel fuel from rapeseed oil and waste cooking oil.

Shin-Asahi Town on the western coast of Lake Biwa followed suit, building a car fuel plant by introducing the technology. The town is currently running three buses powered by rapeseed-made fuel for the municipal kindergarten and other public facilities and one truck for the municipal food supply service center. The size of the town’s rapeseed fields has expanded to 11.5 hectares. The ‘Nanohana Blossom Festival,’ held in April in and around the town’s windmill park, attracted a large number of tourists.

The rapeseed fuel project initiated by Aito Town has been adopted one after another by other municipalities in Shiga Prefecture, such as Nagahama, Omihachiman, Moriyama, Shigaraki and Santo, and those in other prefectures as well.

In 2001, the first Nanohana Blossom Festival was held in Shin-Asahi Town with more than 500 representatives from 27 prefectures attending. The second festival was held in Yokohama Town, Aomori Prefecture, in 2002 and the third festival by Oasa Town, Hiroshima Prefecture, April 19-20 this year, testifying to the fact that the project is now taking root throughout the country.

Robust in Kansai area

Among the local entities in Kansai that have built rapeseed fuel plants are Hyogo Prefectural Government, its Awaji District Administration Office, as well as Goshiki Town, Higashiura Town, Ichinomiya Town, and Itami Municipal Government in Hyogo Prefecture; Fujiwara Town and Nabari River Community in Mie Prefecture; and Imadate Town and Sabae Municipal Government in Fukui Prefecture.

Apart from that, Kyoto Municipal Government has been operating 282 cars (210 garbage collecting vehicles and 72 buses) powered by diesel fuel produced from waste cooking oil.

Shiga Prefecture’s initiative for using rapeseeds oil and waste cooking oil as automotive fuel is spreading all over the country in a visible way. Shiga Prefectural Government is also using rapeseed diesel fuel for the 928-ton training ship Uminoko operating on Lake Biwa, besides official cars. The prefectural government is facing the challenge of further expanding the size of its rapeseed fields now totaling about 30 hectares. The government is also racking its brains to further spread the use of bio-fuel produced from rapeseeds.

Incidentally, rapeseeds are sewn autumn and their flowers are harvested in May or June of the next year to be squeezed into oil. Source: Kippo News

For everything you ever wanted to know about rapeseed oil, visit this Wikipedia link.

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