Africa is a powerhouse for production of raw cashew nuts. However, the all-important value add of removing the shell and extracting the kernel is often done abroad meaning that African farmers miss out on a large share of the profits made. To address this, several projects have been initiated that will allow African farmers to do postprocessing by themselves. In doing this, one challenge is to dispose of the cashew shells in a meaningful manner.
In a joint venture in Tanzania, MASH Biotech and Out-Growers have demonstrated that a high grade bio oil can be produced in a competitive manner by pyrolysing the shells in the company’s low-cost plants. Furthermore, it has been established that the so-called cashew apple can be used for production of low-cost bio-ethanol, which can be mixed with our cashew shell oil. Lastly, it has been determined that the bi-product of the process – a bio-char – can be used for increasing crop yields for the cashew farmers.
Together with Out-Growers, MASH Biotech is now looking to create a farming concept, which will bring the value of the booming cashew market back to the farmers.
- Desktop study of typical properties of cashew shells (black soil vs. red soil types) and testing of actual samples from India and Kenya.
- Investigation of existing approaches for producing oil from cashew shells including off-the-shelf solutions.
- Small-scale test on modified existing reactor to determine process efficiency, yield and quality.
- Sales of cashew shell oil to customers to verify market value. Also, investigations into value of bi-product: Biochar.
- Production of oil in intermediate scale machine and validation of machine output quality.
- Acquisition of quotations from 50+ cashew shell suppliers in Tanzania and India. Validation feedstock price level and availability.
- Identification of several possible locations for setting up process equipment in both India and Kenya.