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Feds back Big Island plan to recycle macadamia nut shells

A Big Island company will receive a $5 million federal loan guarantee to help finish construction of a facility that will convert macadamia nut shells into granular activated carbon for use in hybrid car power units and as an industrial purifier.

The loan is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to a news release from the office of Sen. Dan Inouye. The project is expected to save and create an estimated 30 jobs in Hawaii.

Big Island Carbon LLC began work on the $20 million facility in April 2009 on a four-acre site in the Kaie Hana Industrial Park in Kawaihae leased from the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

In addition to hybrid car power units, granulated activated carbon can help purify air and water and is often used in filtration devices like gas masks, air filters, and water filters.

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