We will not go into all the plant names we learned the last year or so, but we'll focus on today's lesson: jatropha. Originally coming from the Caribbean, jatropha was made a star by Portuguese traders, who found it to be a great hedge plant. Slowly, the succulent plant spread to India, Africa, and North America.
India is where GM found the plant. Curious by nature, the American manufacturer squeezed the plant and found it produce an oil. After some lab testing, the oil proved to be a good source for biodiesel. Said and done...
Partnering with the US Department of Energy (DOE), ethanol startups Coskata and Mascoma, GM decided to nourish the jatropha, grow it, refine it and make some money out of it.
As a result, two jatropha farms will be established in India: a 16-hectare (39.5 acre) plot in Bhavngar and a 38 hectare (93.9 acre) plot in Kalol. They will come to complete the existing 30 hectare (74.1 acre) jatropha farm in Bhavnagar.
“In the long term, if jatropha is commercially viable, it will reduce dependence on petroleum as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic growth,” Mike Robinson, GM Vice President of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy said.
“It would also boost GM India growth plans with biodiesel-capable products and reiterate GM India’s commitment to green technology and alternate fuel solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuel.”
It will take the American manufacturer and it's partners five years to discover if jatropha is worth it or not. By the end of the project, fuels of all types, including biodiesel, may no longer be required...