Going nuts? Turkey looks to pistachios to heat eco-city
April 19 2014 01:01 AM


Pistachios are already a key ingredient in Turkish baklava, but the country may now have found a new way to exploit the nuts known as “green gold” - by using their shells to heat a new eco-city.

Officials are currently examining plans to build the country’s first ecological city with buildings both private and public heated by burning pistachio shells.

And there can be few better locations for such a project than Gaziantep - the south-eastern region close to the Syrian border which produces thousands of tonnes of the nut every year.

“Gaziantep’s potential in pistachio production is known, as well as its considerable amount of pistachio shells waste,” said Seda Muftuoglu Gulec, a green building expert for the municipality.

“We are planning to obtain biogas, a kind of renewable energy, from burning pistachio shells,” Gulec said.

“We thought the ecological city could be heated by burning pistachio shells because when you plan such environment-friendly systems, you take a look at natural resources you have,” she said.

“If the region was abundant in wind power, we would utilise wind energy.”

The pistachio-heated new city would encompass 3,200 hectares, and house 200,000 people. It would be located 11km (6 miles) from the province’s capital city, also named Gaziantep.

“Imagine it just like a separate city,” Gulec said.

If the project bears fruit, pistachio shells formerly regarded as waste could become a new form of energy.

Turkey is one of the world’s biggest producers of pistachios, along with Iran, the US and Syria, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Last year, it exported 6,800 tonnes of the nut, generating approximately $80mn (57mn euros) in income, up from 4,010 tonnes and $50mn in 2010, according to the Southeast Anatolia Exporters Union.

Gaziantep alone exported 4,000 tonnes last year, Mehmet Kahraman, from the union said.

A pilot project for the new city will run in a small 55-hectare area, before rolling out across the entire city if successful.

The project is still pending approval from local authorities.

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