Monday, June 09, 2008

Jatropha Fuel $43 a Barrel to Undercut Petroleum

Jatropha Curcus is an oil seed shrub/tree that grows well in warm weather climates such as South Asia, SubSaharan Africa, and the tropics of the Americas. With improvements in cultivation and refinement, jatropha fuels could cost close to $40 a barrel--instead of the over $130 a barrel of petroleum.
The jatropha-refined fuel is significantly cheaper than crude oil. It could cost an estimated $43 a barrel, or about one-third of Friday's closing price of $138.54 for a barrel of crude oil....The weed, which resembles a fruit tree, can be grown virtually anywhere, doesn't need much water or fertilizer and is not edible. In India, the plants are mainly used as hedges to keep cows out of farm fields. In the U.S., some researchers have been growing the trees to process biodiesel that can be used in automobiles and factory machines.

...Within the nut were two seeds resembling peanuts. They contained 30 percent to 40 percent oil. Researchers looking at various crops discovered that the quality of jatropha oil was better than most for making jet fuel. Jatropha fuel also produces about half the harmful carbon emissions of fossil fuel....Researchers here have found that an acre of the plant can yield about 300 gallons of oil, or five to seven times more than feedstocks such as soybeans. __Bioenergy
Better methods of refining plant oils to fuels are quickly removing the barricades to using biofuels in aircraft and large diesel engines. High oil prices are driving industry to develop alternative fuels, in the face of growing inflationary pressures.

Unless the US Congress wakes up from its long "nap at the wheel", the only alternative to bioenergy as a replacement for petroleum is a deep worldwide recession. Of course, if the US Congress takes its handcuffs off US energy producers, nuclear and domestic fossil fuels will take off and help the US economy rebound from the oil-price induced doldrums. Recovery of the US economy would go a long way toward driving the global economy to recovery.

The US Congress shows no sign of sanity, so if industry knows what is good for it, it will push full speed ahead for bioenergy.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Karen said...

Speaking of biofuels, have you heard of B5 oil? Here's a link you can use: http://oilheatamerica.com/index.mv?screen=bioheat

Turns out that by having oilheat users make the switch, we can help conserve 400 MILLION gallons of oil.

Plus, the other adavantage I found (while working for NORA), was that it produces NO greenhouse gases, reduces emissinons, and it's made from oil and biodiesel.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Karen:

That site did not mention it but I don't see any obvious reason why algae oil from desert farms couldn't be used. That would give those who are developing algae farming technology a more secure market in the event that electric vehicles or some other alternative takes the transportation energy market.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

As for Jatropha, it will be interesting to see what the retail price will be. The producers and suppliers will need to see how much less they need to sell for compared to fossil oil to capture market shares without cutting themselves off from potential revenue.

5:40 PM  
Blogger deviousdiv said...

The thing is, I don't think businessmen have any more patience to wait for Congress to decide on Jatropha. After all, Jatropha planting has begun in earnest in Florida, and even parts of California. They've been testing it for years in Hawaii.

The only barrier that Jatropha faces is the extremely high cost of labor, as the tree fruits all year around and needs to be harvested by hand.

When they've got mechanical harvesting...

Jatropha will take off.

deviousDiv

8:51 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

Interesting idea, Karen. Local and regional infrastructures for bio-oils and other biofuels are desperately needed.

Baron, any type of vegetable oil would work. Some might need a small bit of refinement. New methods of making biodiesel that involve hydrogenating vegetable oils seem to be increasing usefulness of bio-oils for the large diesel fleets of the world.

Thanks for the input, deviousdiv. It may not be long before robo-pickers are able to pick even the trickiest to pick crops.

10:58 AM  

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