Jatropha for Biodiesel
I know all of you are wondering why I am writing about a little known plant called "Jatropha Curcas". Well... it all has to do with making biodiesel and the
production of electricity using biodiesel as a fuel. This is to inform you of a source of vegetable oil that is relatively unknown in the United States and North America.
The European community has already seen the light as have some Asian, African, Indian, and South American countries. Running engines on vegetable oil is nothing new... did you know that Rudolf Diesel originally designed his engine to run on
peanut oil? Maybe the US has not seen the light yet because we are mostly engaged in the growing of food crops and oils like soybean oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and peanut oil. All these oils are edible and thus fetch high prices.
After all, why should US farmers grow a completely inedible plant!? Used cooking oil is great for the "do it yourself" enthusiast, but there is not enough supply of used
cooking oil to supply a whole nation. This is where Jatropha comes in...
Jatropha has the following benefits when looked at from the fuel production angle:
- it costs almost nothing to grow
- it is drought resistant
- it can be grown almost anywhere - even in sandy, saline, or otherwise infertile soil
- it is easy to propagate (a cutting simply pushed into the ground will take root)
- it is not invasive, or spreading, or damaging like kudzu
- it is capable of stabilizing sand dunes, acting as a windbreak, and combating desertification
- it naturally repels both animals and insects
- it lives for over 50 years producing seeds all the time
- it is frost hardy (does not like hard freezes)
- it does not exhaust the nutrients in the land
- it does not require expensive crop rotation
- it does not require fertilizers
- it grows quickly and establishes itself easily
- it has a high yield (Jatropha can yield about 1,000 barrels of oil per year per square mile - oil content of the seed is 55-60%)
- no displacement of food crops is necessary
- it is great for developing countries in terms of energy and jobs
- the biodiesel byproduct, glycerine, is profitable in itself
- the waste plant mass after oil extraction can be used as a fertilizer
- the plant itself recycles 100% of the CO2 emissions produced by burning the biodiesel
That's a whole lot of benefit with little or no disadvantages!
The European Union biofuels directive requires a minimum level of biofuels as a proportion of fuels sold in the European Union of 2% by 2005, 5.75% by
2010 and 20% by 2020. Of course, as the President stated recently on TV, we don't have any such energy program yet. And I doubt we will anytime soon.
The main green fuels will be ethanol and biodiesel, and demand for biodiesel is expected to be up to 10.5 billion litres just in European countries by 2010.
Folks... this "biodiesel" thing is going to happen whether you like it or not! I know there are a lot of farmers, entrepreneurs, and investors reading this who
can cash in on this biodiesl craze. They are already doing it big time in Europe so it's just a matter of time before it happens here. And by "it", I mean using
Jatropha to make biodiesel. This industry will grow very quickly - start planting Jatropha TODAY and then start making biodiesel to generate your own electricity!