Jatropha, the biofuel of the future starts out as short, thick stems with a few leaves sticking out at sharp angles. But in just a few years, they will be tall, leafy trees with bright green spherical pods spilling their seeds all over the ground. The jatropha tree doesn't have the name recognition or lobbying clout of corn-based ethanol, but the energy industry is increasingly spending for development and examining it as a potentially better biofuel source. It is easier to grow than corn, untied to the food market and free from any carbon dioxide or sulfur emissions. Biodiesel from jatropha has powered test flights on Air New Zealand and Continental Airlines. It has prompted oil giant BP PLC to partner on jatropha projects in India and Africa. Jatropha is a low maintenance, fast growing plant that doesn't require much watering. Jatropha is only usable in diesel engines, and it will take some time for jatropha to hit the same price point as conventional diesel. Biofuel today usually costs about 80 percent for the feedstock and about 15 percent for refining. Jatropha prices are currently high because of its low supply, but in two or three years with more farms growing it, it could reach the same cost as conventional diesel. The plant can yield more oil than soy or corn, so far jatropha has grown mostly in India and Africa and only in warmer climates. It is still essentially a wild plant, yields vary widely, making it an unpredictable commercial crop. [ Jatropha Oil ]
Phamexco Editorial Team

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