General Motors Company announced today a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop the jatropha plant for what could evolve into a sustainable biofuel energy crop.
Jatropha plants produce an oil that can be refined into biodiesel fuel.
The drought-resistant, non-edible plant can be grown commercially with modest care on marginal land.
To explore whether new varieties of the plant can produce high enough yields to make it viable while thriving in temperate climates in the U.S. is the point of the experiment.
“Discovering new sources for biodiesel production is an important part of DOE research and development efforts,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “The expertise of this team can help speed the pace for the development of jatropha as a biofuel crop.”
Two jatropha farms will be established in India: a 16-hectare (39.5 acre) plot in Bhavnagar and a 38-hectare (93.9 acre) plot in Kalol, near GM’s India Car Manufacturing plant. An existing 30-hectare (74.1 acre) jatropha farm in Bhavnagar also will be managed under this project.
Lab-optimized strains of jatropha will be cultivated at these farms.
The joint DOE-GM funding, an unspecified amount, will also enable the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI)—an Indian Government research facility, to manage all of the 84 hectares (840,000 m2). (more…)