Feb 9, 2009

Science Scene - BioDiesel from Jatropa

Bio diesel and bio fuel...believe it or not they are a huge business. It is one type of renewable energy that has gained interest from researchers, technologist, engineers, scientists, politicians, and investors.

As a result, around the world, planting of palm oil, rape seed, corn for ethanol, soy beans, sugar cane, etc. has occurred to produce bio diesel and ethanol. However, this has caused issues related to our food supply, causing food supply shortage and has thus contributed to the dramatic increase price of the crops last year. How can we use these crops for energy, when they are needed to feed an ever hungrier world???

One new solution is a species of tree called jatropha (native of the Caribbean). Why jatropha? Simply because it is non-edible. In addition to that, it has high oil content. Today, a lot of countries such as Brazil, Malaysia, and Thailand are encouraging their farmers to grow jatropha for bio diesel. 100 million acres have been set aside in India for jatropha with the expectation of supplying 20% of its diesel consumption by 2011. In December, Boeing successfully test flew a Boeing 747 (Air New Zealand) using a 50-50 blend of jatropha and aviation fuel.

My Dream Fuel, a company based in Florida, is attempting to bring this renewable fuel source to the U.S. The jatropha tree thrives so well in Florida that they may yield up to eight times as much oil as they do in places like India and Africa. This could translate into 1,600 gallon of diesel fuel per acre per year. My Dream Fuel in turn donates trees to Caribbean countries (such as Haiti) in the hopes that these energy starved countries can become more energy self-sufficient.

To see My Dream Fuel and get a more thorough explanation of how this tree grown renewable technology is taking off, go to Time.Com, by clicking the LINK.


  1. Hi Ken,
    Very interesting, I had not heard of this. I have one question, though. With farmers in these other countries, & possibly eventually here, encouraged to plant the jatropha trees, & they have a finite amount of land, wouldn't this decrease their food crop output as we've seen with ethanol?

    I hope this helps the Caribbean countries, not only to become more energy self-sufficient, but economically since many of these countries are so very poor.


  2. I'll look forward to reading the full article.

  3. Hi Ken,
    This is really interesting ... I had never really looked into biodiesel fuel before. Thanks for sharing.

  4. My thoughts echoes Dirk's. I was under the impression that it was the use of food crops for use other than food that caused the increase in food prices and some of the shortages.

    Wouldn't using the land for these non edible crops still be doing the same thing and creating a shortage?


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