The jatropha plant, a succulent native to central America, has the potential to become one of the most important biodiesel fuels of the 21st century. Jatropha biofuel has become a hot, hot, hot commodity for three particular reasons:
Jatropha processing is minimal so it’s fast and easy to create as a viable fuel …
Because of the minimal processing, it’s cheap to produce …
It can be used to replace any kind of diesel fuel on the market …
What, EXACTLY, Are Biodiesel Fuels?
There are two important facts we need to know about biodiesel fuels:
1. They’re made primarily from oily plants – and the jatropha is certainly one of those – although there is minor products from other oils, like the frying oils left over from fast food restaurants and other sources.
2. They’re usually blended with, rather than as 100% replacements for, petroleum fuels.
Jatropha plants have a lot of wonderful qualities that make them a farmer’s dream:
Jatropha is very tough and robust.
It can grow in very dry conditions and doesn’t need lots of water [a common characteristic of a succulent plant]
It can survive, in most conditions, on rain only – no irrigation needed.
It needs very little TLC – tender loving care – and can be mostly neglected.
It can withstand a wide variety of temperatures: from very high heat to light frosts.
The Jatropha can grown in saline [salty] conditions.
It doesn’t need fertile ground, soil that is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, to grow.
With its high concentration of oil, it can product up to 1,600 gallons of diesel fuel per acre per year.
The nutrient-rich soils can be reserved for tougher-to-grow food crops. In fact, these wonderful plants can be grown among food crops.
Jatropha Biodiesel Advantages That Make It A Biofuel Dream!
Japtopha production is exciting for multiple reasons – all of them good for the environment. Jatropha oil is plentiful in the plant. Jatropha seeds will release up to 40% of its content as oil. And what’s marvelous is that this oil needs no processing at all! This is in contrast to petroleum fuel which requires heating and processing. The concentration of oil means that Japtopha can be crushed and its oil extracted – and used immediately in a diesel powered engine. This isn’t only cheap, but it also saves on energy needed to produce the biofuel and there are no harmful emissions.
After the oil is extracted, the pulp can be used as both a fertilizer and an insecticide.
Airline Tests of Jatropha Biofuel
In 2008, Air New Zealand tested Jatropha seeds by mixing it half and half with regular jet fuel. This was used to power one of the engines in a 747. The results were thrilling because the Jatropha biofuel easily handled the pressures unique to high altitude flying. On January 07, 2009 Continental Airlines used a mixture of Jatropha oil & algae in one engine of a two engine Boeing jet, and that test was also successful.
Obviously, these jet tests are imporant because the demands of engines in smaller vehicles, like cars or construction equipment, are much less than those of a jet engine.
The Jatropha Curcas is fast becoming one of the Super Stars of biodiesel fuels and we can expect to have many Jatropha plantations and Jatropha plantations in our future. Always keep in mind that this is a biofuel plant that does not pollute!