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First Farm-Size Fuel Maker
North Dakota farmer Charles Bahm, of New Salem,, has a tiger by the tail.
"He's the nation's first farmer, so far as we know, to own and operate a farm-size screwpress for turning sunflower and soybeans into tractor fuel.. When he goes to the field this spring, he'll be running his diesel tractors entirely on oil extracted from home-grown sunflower seeds.
"This is the missing link I'd been looking for," says Bahm who "spent a bundle" to have a British manufactured oil extractor air freighted all the way from England to his North Dakota farm. "I knew even without seeing it work that this was the answer to becoming completely self sufficient for fuel.
Several weeks after Bahm picked up his new "fuel. maker" at the airport, the company - Simon Rosedowns, Hull, England, - made him an offer he couldn't refuse: The opportunity to become the firm's sales representative for the entire United States and Canada.
"I've really got a tiger by the tail," admits Bahm, who mounted his new fuel maker on a trailer so he could use it at home to make and stockpile the fuel he will need to run his tractors, yet be able to tow it along to the many meetings he's been asked to attend to display and discuss his new method of turning home grown sunflowers into tractor fuel.
"Interest among farmers and ranchers has been tremendous," Bahm told FARM SHOW. "We've answered hundreds of inquiries and our phone rings constantly. We've already sold seven machines since the first of the year and have 50 more coming from England," he told FARM SHOW two weeks ago.
The farm-size Simon-Rosedowns oil extractor he sells is called the Mini 40 Screw Press. It's powered by a 3 hp. electric motor and sells for $7,560 (fob Chicago) and processes about 5 gal. of oil per hour. Sunflower seeds gravity feed into the machine's hopper and screw-press mechanism which separates the meats and shells from the sunflower oil. The oil is collected on one side of the machine while the meats and shells are ground into meal and collected in the front.
Oil squeezed out of sunflower seeds goes through a filter and into the fuel storage tank where it's used "as is" to fuel Bahm's tractors.
Except for some minor adjustments, Bahm is confident his sunflower oil fuel will power his tractors, a Ford TW20 and an Allis 190XT, at peak power efficiency without any engine modifications, and without any engine performance problems. He feels the "secret" is to be sure you run the engine under load and run it hot - in the 190q to 200q range.
"One of the real surprises so far is the amazing feed value we're getting out of the meats, shells and other residue left after extracting the oil from sunflower seeds. The residue contains 28 to 30% protein and, after only two months of feeding, has really slicked up the hair on our beef cows. We tub grind wheat and barley straw, then top it off with the sunflower meal, which is feed up at the rate of 1 lb. per head per day."
At present, no known U.S. or Canadian company makes a "farm size" oil extractor or extruder for soybeans, sunflowers and other oil seed crops. About a dozen firms make industrial size extractors/extruders which start in the neighborhood of $100,000.
In addition to the British made machine which Bahm sells, a Japanese firm makes a similar farmsize oil extractor. Labeled the Model 52, it's powered by a 3 hp. electric motor and has an hourly capacity of 65 to 100 lbs. of sunflower and other oil-seed crops per hour. It sells for $4,135, FOB Portland, Oregon, according to Y. Kagawa, managing director for the "CECOCO" Company, Box 8, Ibaraki City, Osaka 567, Japan.
Researchers at North Dakota State University, Fargo, are using one of the Japanese extractors for a wide variety of "sunflower oil for fuel" experiments. Although optimistic about its possibilities, NDSU researchers feel it's still to early to start touting a sunflower-power era.
"There are still too many unanswered questions. Before you start pouring sunflower oil into your diesel powered tractors, wait until more research results are in, particularly on the long term effect sunflo

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1981 - Volume #5, Issue #2