European biodiesel company Solarix has created what may be a sustainable powerhouse for rural areas: the Sustainer, a "power box" in a 20-foot container frame that converts oil-bearing crops and seeds into edible oil and biodiesel.
The portable, modular device is outfitted with four wind turbines and multiple folded solar panels—so the system can operate in areas where grid power isn't available. Excess electricity is stored in a battery for later use. The Sustainer also contains an integrated bunker for seed storage. The bunker feeds into an oil press, which extracts oil and refines it either into raw material for biodiesel or edible oil. All byproducts from the Sustainer's press cake can be used as livestock feed, making the system nearly waste-free. At full capacity, Solarix's Sustainer can produce 600 liters of biodiesel each day along with enough livestock feed for 25 cows.
No word from Solarix on potential costs for the newly-announced product, but the company believes that the Sustainer will appeal to rural farmers and agricultural cooperatives that grow oil-bearing crops like jatropha, castor, rapeseed, sunflower, and palm. Solarix predicts that the Sustainer could be particularly popular in the African interior, where there is a large demand for diesel and oil-bearing crops. Survivalists may even find the Sustainer useful, since it contains a bunker for crops and provides electrical power. Whether the Sustainer becomes popular, of course, depends on its affordability.