Jatropha Biodiesel Only Getting Hotter

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There have been more recent developments for Jatropha Curcas oil being used as a biodiesel fuel as more and more  interest is being generated for this plant.

New Test Date for Jatropha Biodiesel by Air New Zealand.

December 30th is the new test date for Air New Zealand test flight using Jatropha Curcas as a biodiesel fuel.

Air New Zealand has confirmed that its test flight powered by a sustainable second-generation biofuel will now take place on 30 December 2008. The flight had originally been planned for 3 December 2008. The two hour 747-400 flight from Auckland plans to use a Jatropha-based fuel, sourced from seeds grown on environmentally sustainable farms.

The original test flight, slated for the 1st week of December, was halted due to a tragic crash of an Air New Zealand jet.

Air New Zealand postponed the historic biofuel test flight as the airline came to terms with the tragic loss of four employees in an Airbus A320 crash off the coast of France.

Lee County Florida, Hotbed of Activities for Jatropha Biodiesel!

Fort Myers, Florida: Ken Ryan is working closely with the University of Florida/IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) Lee County Extension program on a plant called Jatropha Curcas, an emerging possibility for a new biodiesel fuel source. Only in the research phase here in Florida, Jatropha Curcus has been used in India for several years. According to Ryan the plant grows a “nut” that produces oil when pressed. The oil could then be used to power buses, trucks, tractors — anything that uses a diesel engine to operate.

Major questions and answers about Jatropha Curcas being grown in Florida. Source: University of Florida, IFAS LEE County Extension, Ft. Myers, Fl. 33916

Has A New Gold Been Found in California?

The University of California, Davis is conducting research on the oil plant jatropha to determine if the plant can be grown successfully and profitably in Southern California to produce biodiesel.

Jatropha seeds from India grown in a UC Davis greenhouse were transplanted this spring into an acre parcel at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC) in Holtville, Calif. The trial is funded by Chevron. “I think Jatropha would be ideal for this area,” said Sham Goyal, UC Davis agronomist, and a member of the university’s Jatropha research team. “A realistic estimate is an acre of Jatropha could produce from 500 to 600 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year. If you’re paying $5 per gallon for diesel, that’s about $2,500 per acre of gross return.”

Mr. Goyal shared his extensive knowledge of Jatropha with interested growers and other leading company representatives at a Fall Desert Crop workshop.

However, Mr. Goyal stated there are several concerns if jatropha is going to be a successful crop for biodiesel production in California.

One major concern is harvesting by mechanical means. Labor issues and costs for harvesting would cut profits drastically. If the Jatropha cannot be harvested by mechanical means, then the future for Jatropha would be in jeopardy. Another concern expressed by Mr. Goyal is the maturity rate of the fruits are in various stages and mechanical harvesting would damage the younger immature fruits.

Future genetic modifications for Jatropha to yield uniform fruits would have to be explored. The cost of harvesting in developing countries is not currently a major issue because of lower labor costs. Source: Western Farm Press.com

New Feed Stocks Being Tested for Biodiesel being explored in the U.S.

The United States currently trails Europe in biodiesel production, a researcher says. University of Iowa professor, Bingjun “Brian” He says “the U.S. is way behind in the production of biofuels.”

Many biodiesel producers have begun to import palm oils from East Asian countries, which goes against the original mission of the program, which is to reduction of dependence on imports. (Note from Chemically Green: the increased use of palm oil has also resulted in de-forestation and additional pollution from complete burning of forest land after trees have been removed.
For that reason, several years ago, the federal government began to encourage researchers to develop new oilseed crops. “Currently, the potential oil crops, besides soybeans, (include) camelina, because (it has) a much higher yield and also adapts to harsh conditions,” He said. “A lot of people are talking about jatropha.” Jatropha is a bush-type plant. The oil is toxic, He said, but the plant can grow rapidly anywhere, with a yield four to five times higher than that of soybeans. Note from Chemically Green:  there are comments in this article made by Ms. Marth Azila, sustainability coordinator for the University of Florida extension office. Ms. Azilia states that Jatropha can produce 600 gallons of oil per acre. *Research based on Jatropha experts that Chemically Green has been in contact with say that about *60-70 gallons of oil per acre would be expected from Jatropha. Source: Capitol Press Info.

Myanmar in the news as large Jatropha expansion gets underway.

YANGON, Oct. 27 — The Myanmar agricultural authorities will cooperate with some Japanese institutions to produce high-grade bio-diesel by forming a joint venture, the local weekly Flower News reported Monday.

Under Myanmar’s Jatropha bio-energy program, a joint venture company, named Myanmar Bio Energy Company, will be formed between the Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and Japan Development Institute (JDI) and Japan Bio Energy Development Cooperation (JBEDC) for the move, the report said quoting agricultural experts involved in the project.  A recent Chemically Green post discussed a day at a Jatropha farm in Myanmar as seen thorough the eyes of an outsider. Source: balita-dot-ph.

Pittsburgh, Pa. company, Thar Technologies looking to Jatropha for biodiesel production

Pittsburgh, Penn.-based Thar Technologies said it plans to build a biodiesel plant in Rajasthan, India, using the region’s karanj and jatropha crops. Source: Cleantech.com

In India, Large refinery shifting to Jatropha to increase biofuel production

“Mumbai-based Bharat Renewable Energy plans to spend Rs 2,200 crore ($480 million) to grow more than a million acres of jatropha on Indian wasteland in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

India accounts for about two-thirds of the world’s jatropha plantations, according to research firm New Energy Finance. Biodiesel is made by crushing the seeds of toxic fruit from the jatropha shrub. Seeds can yield up to 40 percent oil and produce about 60 to 70 U.S. gallons of oil per acre. Estimates are that Jatropha oil yields are 10 times that of corn, but that production hasn’t been realized on a commercial scale.” Source: Cleantech.com

Jatropha really is a Hot Topic in the world of biodiesel. A biofuel that is produced on marginal land without using land that is being used for food production.  There are still major issues and questions that need to be answered about Jatropha. As these questions are answered through the many companies exploring and working with Jatropha, will this be the seed that saves the world?

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4 Responses to Jatropha Biodiesel Only Getting Hotter

  1. Chumroen Benchavitvilai June 6, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    The BDF(Bio Diesel Fuel) derived from Jatropha Oil will be great potential future.
    There is no doubt that the Jatropha oil will be suitable for the BDF feeds tock for high quality products (Low CP and high energy density)

    The current problem is how to get Jatropha oil in significant quantity for the feed stock.

    In fact the jatropha plantation for comemrcial purpose is still not economically viable due to the relatively very low productivity and un secured yiled .
    Without the significant improvement to get the higher yield.
    It is impossible for jatropha to be economical viable.

    The Japanese company JDI did know very well as they have been fail to develop the jaropha plantation in Cambodia and Lao without success,

    Now JDI is trying to develop the project in <yanmar withthe same format of gailure.
    If JDI would not relaize the key important issue of the Jatropha Yiled im[roement.
    The repeat failure will be again in Myanmar.

  2. ChemicallyGreen.com
    chemicallygreen.com June 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    @Chumroen Benchavitvilai: Thanks for your comments and information. It is true Jatropha has potential as bio-diesel, but detailed plans and precise farming and cultivation seems to be the correct road to take for Jatropha.

    Unfortunately, a lot of third world countries that have started Jatropha too soon before having the correct information and a plan to grow, have found out that it takes a lot of management,planning to grow, good soil conditions, cultivation and water to grow this product.

    A lot of hectares will have to be planted and really looked after to be able to harvest the amount of Jatropha oil that is needed fro bio-diesel use.

  3. chinese tractor July 13, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    On this subject kinda…, brings me back to when I was only a lad, when I was young i grew up over a farm exactly where all the tractors were green. I like Jd but for some reason I’ve always liked Farmall. Anyawy I’m beginning to daydream now…good post I’ve given it a DIGG.Com for you personally.

  4. ChemicallyGreen.com
    chemicallygreen.com July 13, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    @chinese tractor: Thank you for your comments. I know what u mean. I miss the farm life, the cattle and chicken houses, maybe not the chicken houses. We had several tractors, John Deere, Int. Harvester, and several others. I really enjoyed the cattle and genetics part. Had show cattle and enjoyed sales and shows. A great life, but an expensive one.

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