Jatropha curcas, a tree shrub with biodiesel nuts.
Would you believe a new plant (tree) is being used to produce biodiesel to power engines and motors? Have you heard of the Jatropha tree, Jatropha Curcas? Biodiesel from a nut producing tree that will be a sustainable green fuel product. The nuts contain oil and after processing yields a clean biofuel alternative to diesel fuel. The Jatropha tree, native to Mexico and Latin America, has been grown in other countries, such as India and Africa, for fuel and medicine. It produces fruit with oily seeds that can be crushed to make biodiesel. Researchers say the Jatropha plant can produce four times more fuel per acre than soy, and 10 times more than corn.
Global production of biofuels is growing steadily and will continue to do so. The global biodiesel market is estimated to reach 37 billion gallons by 2016, growing at an average annual rate of 42 percent. The rapid development of the global biodiesel industry has been closely observed by countries interested in stimulating economic growth, improving the environment, and reducing dependency on imported oil. Developing Biofuels represents the most immediate and available response to at least five key challenges and opportunities:
- Coping with record-high crude-oil prices;
- The need for oil-importing countries to reduce their dependence on a limited number of exporting nations by diversifying their energy sources and suppliers;
- The chance for emerging economies in tropical regions to supply the global energy market with competitively priced liquid biofuels;
- Meeting growing energy demand in developing countries, in particular to support development in rural areas;
- And the commitments taken to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as part of the battle against climate change.
The Jatropha bush is being grown and processed in India and other Asian countries and the Centre for Jatropha Promotion and Biodiesel (CJP) is the Global authoritative Agency for scientific commercialization of Jatropha fuel crop. The CJP has focused on the development of Jatropha curcas and other non-food biodiesel crops. Their primary goal is to discover and develop high-yielding crops that generate the most bio-energy per hectare of land. They have identified and developed new elite varieties of feedstock crops optimized for production under different agro-climatic conditions, economic and social parameters. They would like to introduce us to JATROPHA and their related activities.
Advantages for using Jatropha Curcas:
- Resistance to drought, can be planted in desert climates, it thrives on any type soil, grows almost anywhere, in sandy, gravelly, saline soils. (Wonder if it will grow well in Georgia red clay?)
- Needs minimal management or care.
- Has no insect pests and is not bothered by grazing cattle and sheep.
- Propagation is easy, growth is rapid and forms a thick live hedge after a few month’s planting.
- Starts yielding fruit after 2 years and continues for 40 years, more resistant to disease and can survive a 3 year drought.
- After oil extraction, the nut shell, which are ground into a meal, makes an excellent organic manure (38% protein, N:P;K ratio 2.7:1.2:1).
- Quickly establishes itself and will produce seed year round if irrigated.
- The leaf and bark are used for other industrial and pharmaceutical uses.
- Approximately 31-37% of oil is extracted from the Jatropha Curcas seed. The oil can be used for any diesel engine without modification.
- Lower cost than other organic fuels being produced.
Several companies in the U.S. are growing seedlings of Jatropha Curcas for planting. There are approximately 1.2 million trees planted in Southwest Florida. All of the seedlings have been sold out for this year, but millions of plants are being grown for later plantings. This plant certainly would mean we can use less oil when production gets into full swing for this product.
The answers for the U.S. weaning off our oil addition will be the new entrepreneurial companies that are willing to take a chance on new start-up ventures involving different types of fuel production that utilizes a green organic base for producing fuels. America has waited on Congress for 30 years to make decisions about energy and fuel policies, but all we get is rhetoric and nothing has been done.
As a country, we have turned to corn ethanol as a possible solution, but it’s hard to harvest corn when it is 3-4 feet in standing water and due to cool weather and excessive rain, the 2008 crop will probably be 40-50% less than anticipated. Also, corn ethanol has played havoc with increased food prices. These new fuels have to be non-competitive with food crops such as corn, soy beans, wheat and other grains. How much is gasoline and diesel costing you today?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead