Thursday, 19 May 2011

Grow Jatropha: Polyculture Jatropha Plantation Growing In Haiti

This Jatropha Plantation growing in Haiti has nice healthy two year old Jatropha plants. This plantation is not mechanised in any way and you can see that the jatropha is being grown with beans and butternut squash. Growing Jatropha alongside food crops has many benefits in addition to providing food AND fuel security.

Monoculture Jatropha plantations are prone to diseases and provide no food security for the local people. Growing Jatropha for biofuel is not as important as growing food for the local community to eat!

Grow Jatropha: Making Fuel Briquettes From Jatropha Seed Cake

This video shows a press being used to make briquettes from the Jatropha seedcake which can be used as a solid fuel for cooking fires or as a fertilizer.

Burning Jatropha briquettes pressed from the Jatropha seed cake is a carbon neutral process because the jatropha has taken carbon out of the atmosphere whilst growing. Using jatropha briquettes like this reduces the need to cut down tree's helping with the problem of deforestation in rural areas due to the demand for vegetable charcoal.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Grow Jatropha: Extracting Crude Jatropha Oil With NF500 Oil Extractor

Jatropha is grown on plantations for bio fuel, after harvesting the jatropha a nut press is used to extract the crude jatropha oil from the physic nuts produced by the jatropha plants. Any simple worm gear press will be able to extract the crude jatropha oil from the jatropha nut.

Out of all the various machines that I have seen to mechanise the process of extraction of the oil used for bio fuel from the jatropha seed this is the best one!

However in rural Africa and other poorer parts of the world I feel a hand operated screw press is the cheaper and better option. Using the machine takes work away from the villagers!


Grow Jatropha: Filtering Crude Jatropha Oil For Use As Bio Fuel

The reason everyone is growing jatropha on plantations it to use the Crude Jatropha Oil as a bio fuel for cars and planes. Crude Jatropha Oil is a "Green Oil" which can be burnt in diesel engines after filtering. Here is a quick video showing how to filter the Crude Jatropa Oil.

Filtering the Jatropha oil to one micron (about the width of a human hair) means that it will pass through your oil filter without causing damadge (most oil filters are 50 microns).


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Grow Jatropha: Jatropha Curacas Plantations In India - Funny Video

Promotional Video for Bulk Agro Jatropha Curacas Plantations in India

Well this is really funny! You have to go 2.05 minutes into the video before you even see any Jatropha plants! From the boardroom scenes you can see that the Bulk Agro Jatropha Plantation planogram shows a high percentage of small holder jatropha growers.

The nursery that is growing jatropha looks well organised and the jatropha appeats to be grown in rows in a very clinical way which projects Bulk Agro Pvt's corporate image as the promotional video continues you can see that they have some machinery for extracting the Jatropha seeds from the husks.

This looks like a well organised Jatropha Plantation from the promotional video however the jatropha plants shown are young and there is no intercropping on the plantation video.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Grow Jatropha: Guerrilla Gardeners Grow Jatropha in The Dutch Caribbean

This is a great video showing how they grow Jatropha Dutch Caribbean Style! The main problem trying to grow jatropha in the Caribbean seems to be the iguana's eating the leaves; perhaps trying to grow the toxic veriety of Jatropha Curacus Lin would prevent jatropha plant molestation by Iguana's!

Growing Jatropha at Banda Abou Curacao in the Dutch Antilles looks like alot of fun however I would not class this as growing a jatropha plantation, more like a guerrilla gardening movement :)

Grow Jatropha: Indian Project To Grow Jatropha Curcas in Chhattisgarh

Here is an Indian project to grow Jatropha Curcas Lin to produce a biofuel crop most plantations who grow jatropha for biodiesel production use a monoculture. In this case if the Indian's were to grow Jatropha intercropped with Gensing they would have an additional income in addition to growing jatropha for biofuel.

The Jatropha growing on the Sandarkera plantation in India looks healthy with each jatropha plant easily having 2.5 square meters in which to grow. Both Genging and Watermelon could grow in between these jatropha rows to create food security and income as well as biodiesel on this jatropha plantation in India.

There is a funny bit where animals are walking where the jatropha is growing and it is captioned with "Jatropha Is No Longer Effective Hedge" Jatropha plants need to be planted about 30cm away from each other so that they become a hedge of course animals will walk through the plantation.

In Africa there is some debate as to whether jatropha plants should grow in 4 meter square patches to allow for elephant migration through the jatropha growing on the plantation without damage.

Grow Jatropha: Growing Jatropha in Central Vietnam Quang Tri Province

Here you can see jatropha being grown in the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam, it is quite funny watching the American "Investor" who can't say Jatropha - When you see the Jatropha Plantation which is sandy soil in terraces the plants are maybe one to two months old and struggling.

The video ends on more mature jatropha trees grown for maybe four years the straggly jatropha plants grown on the sandy terraces will be a long way from producing enough jatropha seeds to make biodiesel from the crude jatropha oil.

Cambodia and Vietnam are both good places to grow jatropha because of the soil conditions you can see in the video and the humid climate. Growing Jatropha with Palm Tree's on the terraces in the video would provide the jatropha with the shade that it likes to grow in.

You can see the young Jatropha plants growing in the video look wilted from too much sun and growth is poor. Jatropha should always be grown in the shade for best results. Growing stronger plants produces seeds higher in oil content. The more crude jatropha oil in the seeds the more biofuel you can make from the Jatropha you grow!

Grow Jatropha: Growing Jatropha In Kenya Is Supportted By Locals

These Villagers in Kenya are showing support for growing jatropha as a biofuel feedstock in Africa. They must have grown some jatropha at some point because they wave lots of it about.

The video does not show any actual plants growing and I have no idea what the Kenyan man at the end of the video is saying about growing jatropha, I wish him well with his Jatropha plantation in Kenya! I am sure it would be fun to teach this jatropha farmer and his branch waving friends how to make biodiesel from jatropha oil. If the Kenyan people were as enthusiastic about pressing the seeds as they are about waving the branches I am sure their jatropha farmers will have very successful biofuel plantations.

Grow Jatropha: Extraction of Crude Jatropha Oil By Hand With Nut Press

The main reason to grow Jatropha Curacus Lin is for the physic nut sometimes called the Barbados Nut because it produces a green oil that is suitable for use in diesel engines and Crude Jatropha Oil can be further refined into Bio Aviation fuel. Crude Jatropha Oil can be extracted from the jatropha seed using a simple nut press like this. it is the same sort of worm gear nut press that can be used to extract oil for biofuel from sunflower seeds or any other biofuel feedstock crop. Extraction oil from seeds is not a new idea!

Using a simple nut press to extract crude jatropha oil is very easy for a local community to do in this way and does not require expensive and heavy machinery to extract the crude jatropha oil from the jatropha seed. Seed husks which still contain residual jatropha oil are a very rich fertilizer and can be used to fertilize the jatropha plantation after the harvest.

Once the crude jatropha oil has been extracted using the nut press it would be very easy for the community to refine the jatropha oil into a methyl ester biodiesel or use the jatropha oil for cooking without further refining, this would make the carbon footprint of the jatropha plantation lower as sustainable energy becomes more available to the community. 

Grow Jatropha: Mechanical Press Extraction of Crude Jatropha Oil & Seedcake

This Video shows an amazing machine extracting the Crude Jatropha Oil from the Jatropha seed. The seedcake comes out in need pellets which can be burnt as fuel or used as fertilizer. If sterilised by heat to remove toxins the Jatropha seedcake can be fed to livestock and fish as food.

The Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO) can then be refined into Jatropha Methly Ester suitable for use as Biodiesel which is a process anyone can do at home. This is the most advanced form of machine I have seen for the extraction of crude jatropha oil from the seedcake produced by the Jatropha Plant.

Growing Jatropha for biofuel in Africa is still very much an emerging market. The level of Jatropha nut press is very, basic and the facilities and knowledge that the local people need to extract the crude jatropha oil from the seed cake and then refine the crude jatropha oil into Jatropha Methyl Ester suitable for sustainable use in 4x4's is not present currently in Africa.

To grow jatropha holistically the by products of growing jatropha for bio diesel, like the jatropha seedcake need to be seen as as important and useful to the local community that is producing the crop and the local community need the education to be able to get the most benefit from growing jatropha so the plant is used holistically.

If the community are growing Jatropha just for biodiesel they should be able to produce the biodiesel from the crude jatropha oil themselves and be able to prepare jatropha seed cake as briquettes to replace wood in fires or even be able to sterilise the jatropha seed cake so that it can be used to feed community fish or livestock projects

Grow Jatropha: Harvesting Jatropha Plantation Sustainability Vs Machinery

This Video Shows harvesting of Jatropha Curacus Lin on a Monoculture Bio Fuel Plantation using a Korvan Model 9000 machine. Growing and harvesting a Jatropha plantation like this on an industrial scale with machinery and it may be financialy more sensible to grow jatropha and harvest it more traditionaly. This will produce biofuel that is more sustainable as the carbon emmisions chain taken to produce the fuel will be shorter and therefore better for the environment.

This method of harvesting jatropha grown on a monoculture plantation is not as environmentally friendly as harvesting the jatropha by hand. Once the jatropha seed husks have turned black they fall to the ground where they can easily be picked up and brought to trailers at the end of the rows.

Harvesting Jatropha in this way creates labour for local people and the extra cash from growing jatropha with medicinal plants such as Aloe Vera are better economically for the plantation as the value of an Aloe Crop is worth twice as much as the Jatropha Crop in the first four to 5 years!

Grow Jatropha: Growing Jatropha Biodiesel Plantation in Lower Volta Ghana

Growing Jatropha as a Bio Fuel feedstock is a good idea in Africa - This Video shows Jatropha Growing as a Monoculture plantation in Lower Volta, Ghana.

Many people in Africa have tried to grow Jatropha for various biofuel projects which are less economically viable when compared to growing jatropha plants intercropped with medicinal plants such as gensing. The

Jatropha plants are being grown in rows so they can be easily harvested, from the hight and foliage the Jatropha plants look to be 12 to 18 months old. The sole aim of a monocultrue plantation is to grow jatropha as a feedstock for biofuels like bio diesel - Jatropha Methel Ester or Bio Aviation Fuel -Bio SPK, Synthetic Parafinic Kerosene.

A plantation has to grow a large amount of Jatropha in order to produce a sustainable biofuel production for every 3 kilos of Jatropha seed grown produce one litre of oil when crushed to produce the Crude Jatropha Oil. The main reason why this Jatropha is being grown on this plantation in Ghana.  

This book explains how to make your own bio diesel the process can be used with Crude Jatropha Oil from the Jatropha plants grown in the video or with waste vegetable oil from a restaurant.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Questions To Ask Before Investing in Jatropha Plantations For Bio Diesel Production

Investing in a Jatropha plantation seems to be a bit of a trendy thing right now, I have seen quite a few glossy brochures and flash websites as well as a number of failed projects some of the You Tube comments on this video about Jatropha Plantations are interesting background for anyone thinking about and investment in a Jatropha Plantation.

Why Are You Investing Into A Monoculture Jatropha Plantation? 

If you are thinking in investing in a monoculture plantation of Jatropha solely for biofuel feedstock rather than a polyculture plantation which takes care of food and fuel security there may not be any carbon credits and only sustainable Jatropha based fuel can be sold into the aviation industry.

So a good question to ask the sales person selling an investment into Jatropha for biofuel is why have they decided to grow a monoculture Jatropha plantation?

Is The Cost Of Replanting Trees In The Revenue Model For The Jatropha Plantation Investment?

The economic life of Jatropha Curacus Lin is about 25 to 35 years some companies are offering 99 year leases, this would mean that the Jatropha plants would have to be replaced two or three times during the life of the investment into the Jatropha plantation.

To use Jatropha Curacus Lin as a sustainable feedstock to produce bio fuels either biodiesel or bio synthetic parafinic kerosene (Bio SPK) for aviation fuel each Jatropha tree needs 2.5m of space in order to grow to the size where it can produce 9Kg of seed.

9 Kg of Jatropha seed produces 3 litres of Crude Jatropha Oil CJO about 4000 litres per hectare is reasonable from 4 year old Jatropha Curacus plants. These are realistic figures for a monoculture plantation most of the companies I have seen who want you to invest in Jatropha as a green alternative investment are focused more on the Jatropha Oil situation rather than the commercial and environmental advantages for polyculture jatropha plantations.

If you are thinking of investing in Jatropha in Africa intercropping is vital to local food security it is the same local people that will be harvesting your investment, so you want them to be able to eat and Jatropha is inedible 25 Hectares of Monoculture Jatropha plantation can make 100,000 litres of Bio Fuel however 25 Hectares of Polyculture plantation can feed local people and boost the economy being more beneficial for the local people and the investor.

Refining Crude Jatropha Oil into Jatropha Methl Ester is a process that can be easily done by anyone familiar with the basic transesterfication process used to make bio diesel however further refining the crude jatropha oil into Bio SPK for Jatropha based Bio aviation fuel requires a much more complicated cracking process in which only 15% of the Crude Jatropha Oil can be converted into Bio SPK aviation fuel.

Investing in clean technology is a good thing we could all destroy less of the planet and reduce global warming by growing and using biofuels instead of carbon based petro chemicals to power our cars and planes, the most important side of the Jatropha plantation should be the investment into the agriculture and food security of the local people producing the Jatropha which is being sold to provide you with the return on your investment.

Intercropping Ginseng With Jatropha For Commercial Polyculture Plantations In India

Jatropha Plantations are grown on many different continents and are the second generation of Bio fuel feedstocks, intercropping Jatropha in Africa with Aloe Vera provides a great income which can sustain the Jatropha Plantation as a commercial enterprise through the first four or five years before the Jatropha plants reach maturety and are capable of producing sustainable bio fuel feedstock.

Jatropha has been grown in India for many years and is found on the railway banks as well as being grown on plantations for research into biofuels.

In India Ginseng is the ideal plant to introduce as part of a polyculture Jatropha Plantation because of its value and cultural relevence through out Asia. Genseng is a stout shrub that reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet very much like the tomato which belongs to the same family of plants. Tomato's are also suitable for intercropping with Jatropha in a polyculture plantation.

Genseng has yellow flowers and red fruit, though its fruit is berry-like in size and shape. Ashwagandha grows prolifically in India,Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It is commercially cultivated in Madhya Pradesh the existing cultivation and cultural significance of the plant make it an ideal agricultural business to combine with a Jatropha Plantation for sustainable bio fuel feedstock.

Cultivation of Genseng (Withania Somnifera) as Polyculture with Jatropha (Jatropha Curacus Lin)

Genseng has been extensively domesticated from the wild form. In India there are at least five different cultivars which have been developed for increased root size and adaptation to different regional climates. The Genseng crop is mainly grown on residual land of exactly the same type that Jatropha Curacus thrives in. 
No fertilizers need be applied to Jatropha or Genseng and the plants do not need irrigation, water from rain is sufficient.

Genseng is considered an adaptogen which is an herb that works to normalize physiological function, working on the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system.

Commercial Produce of Genseng and Jatropha Polyculture Plantations

The parts of the plant that are used for traditional medicines are the roots and leaves, which have been traditionally used for the Ayurvedic system as aphrodisiacs, diuretics as well as for treating memory loss.
In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are boiled in milk, prior to drying, in order to remove undesirable constituents. The berries are also used as a substitute for rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making.

The crop is ready in six months and harvesting starts in January continuing till the end of March.An average yield is between 400 and 500 Kg of root and 50 Kg of seeds per hectare of Genseng intercropped with Jatropa Curacus Lin.

Because leaves have medicinal properties it might be profitable to produce tincture localy and sell this or combine it with the glycerine by product of refining crude Jatropha oil into Jatropha Methyl Ester to make soap, boosting the local economy with the trade products that can be sold by local people at local markets.

2 oz liquid extract costs about $15 USD
1 oz of root cost $2 USD
10 Kg of root powder cost $150 USD
100 seeds cost $1.50

When intercropping Genseng and Jatropha Curacus about 200 Kg of Genseng root and 20 Kg of Genseng seeds are produced by one hectare.

We assume that there are 1300 Genseng seeds in 1 Kg and 1600 seeds in 1 Kg of Jatropha seeds. In harvesting 200 kg of  Genseng root you also have 20 Kg of Genseng leaves.

You use 5 Kg of leaves to produce one Kg of tincture in the same way the husks from the Jatropha seeds can be used as fertilizer or sold at local prices. This is around $4000 USD profit on Genseng root, seeds and tincture

This extra income is available within 6 months of being planted as part of a polyculture Jatropha plantation the Genseng makes the plantation financially sustainable within 6 months whilst it will take the Jatropha 4 years to establish itself to the point where it will produce $4000 worth of Crude Jatropha Oil.

Both the price of Medicinal Herbs like Genseng and the price of second generation Bio Fuel Feedstocks such as Jatropha are steadily rising by about 20% a year.

Growing Jatropha As A Polyculture Commercial Plantation With Aloe Vera

 Growing Jatropha as a monoculture for bio fuels in marginal land has been attempted in various areas of the world and undoubtedly Jatropha Plantations will become more popular as the demand for green oil fuels including Bio SPK Aviation Fuel increases.

I have been involved with many conversations with Agronomists over planting widths for Jatropha Hedgerows or the amount of space needed to harvest plants, I feel that planting 1300 Jatropha Trees per Hectare about is a good number.

Intercropping Jatropha by growing it with Palm Tree's provides shade which the Jatropha likes as well as Coconuts in about 4 years by which time Jatropha Tree's themselves can be upto 3 meters high as you can see.

When designing a Jatropha Plantation for Bio Aviation Fuel production I want to include benificial plants to intercrop with the Jatropha I am growing, tobacco is not an ethical cash crop to grow for the local community whereas growing plants like Watermelons, Tomato Plants, Peppers, Cucumber, Legumes, Basil, Chard, Lettuce and more importantly in terms of growing sustainable cash crops intercroped with Jatropha, Spices.

Whilst looking at the spice market with a wide variety of herbs and spices which can be intercroped with Jatropha and sold for cash I noticed that there was also a healthy market for growing medicinal plants alongside the Jatropha as an alternative to monoculture plantation.

Aloe Vera is an example that would easily work intercropped with Jatropha with a good commercial value being added to the plantation by choosing a Jatropha / Aloe Vera polyculture with a few Palm or Coconut trees' intercropped for shade.

Intercropping Jatropha with Aloe Vera is a great idea for Jatropha Plantations in Africa because of the sandy loany soil conditions, ideally kept ideally slightly acidic. The soil should be supplied supplement in the form of ammonium nitrate every year Aloe Vera is not a seed crop so growing it can be difficult without experienced labour on the plantation.

Cultivation of Aloe Vera to Intercrop With Jatropha

Aloe Vera can be cultivated on any soil for 'dry land management' and is generally propagated by root suckers. Carefully digging out without damaging the parent plant and planting it in the main field. It can also be propagated through rhizome cuttings. By digging out the rhizomes after the harvest of the crop and making them into 5-6 cm length cuttings with a minimum of 2-3 nodes on them.

Then they are rooted in specially prepared containers or sand beds. The Aloe Vera plant is ready for transplanting after the appearance of the first sprouts.

The plants are set spaced out by 31 inches in rows and between the rows. At that rate, about 12,500 plants per hectare. An 8-12 inch aloe pop would take one and a half to two years to mature, in a year's time the plants would develop bright yellow flowers, the leaves are 1 to 2 feet long  and last for several years.

The crop can be harvested 4 times a year. At the rate of 3 leaves cut from each plant, about 12 leaves are the harvest per plant per year. On an average, the yield per hectare annually is approximately 150,000 kg. The leaves cut off close to the plant are placed immediately, with the cut end downwards, in a V-shaped wooden trough of about 4 feet long and 12 to 18 inches deep. It then takes about 15 minutes to cut leaves enough to fill a trough.

Aloe Vera can cost up to $3 for 1 liter of 99.7% pure juice

In our scenario you cultivate the equivalent of one acre of Aloe Vera in intercropping with one hectare of Jatropha. So that means that in a field of one hectare of Jatropha you also plant 12,500 Aloe Vera plants each plant produces 12 kg of leaves every year.

The leaves of Aloe Vera produce about the same produce to weight ration as Jatroha about 3 kg of Aloe Vera leaves give 1 liter of high quality Aloe Vera juice in the same way as 3kg of Jatropha seeds will produce 1 litre of Crude Jatropha Oil when pressed.
If the annual harvest 12,000kg of seed in 1 hectare of Jatropha, Crude Jatropha Oil production would be near 4,000 litres of which only 15% of the crude Jatropha Oil could be refined into Bio SPK for Aviation use.
Income From Jatropha Plantation Intercropped With Aloe Vera
For our theoretical Polyculture Plantation of Aloe Vera and Jatropha we will fix the farm gate price of 1 liter of Aloe Vera at $0.5 USD. 12,500 Plants producing 12kg of leaves produces 50,000 litres of 99.7% pure Aloe Vera Juice at $0.5 USD per litre. This is an income of $25,000 USD per Hectare.

Estimates for how many seeds a mature Jatropha tree produces vary, I feel 9kg from a 4 year old tree is reasonable, the better soil conditions and more nutrients, the more seed is produced and the more Crude Jatropha Oil can be extracted.

In this light the Aloe Vera is more profitable than the Crude Jatropha Oil produced by pressing the Jatropha seeds even selling the by products of producing Crude Jatropha Oil from the Jatropha seeds like the seed cake which can be used as fertiliser or animal feed does not make the Jatropha more commercially viable in the plantation when compared to the quantity and value of the Aloe Vera produced by the plantation.

The demand for the Crude Jatropha Oil produced from the Jatropha seed is what will see the profitability from Jatropha plantations in the next 10 -15 years when aviation travel becomes more expensive and cleaner forms of fuel need to be found to sustain the industry, so the produce of the Jatropha when fully refined will in time become more valuable than the produce of the Aloe Vera.

By moving away from the ideas of Jatropha in monoculture plantations a viable commercial and socialy responsible alternative can be found by intercroping Jatropha with medicinal herbs such as Aloe Vera and Indian Ginsing as well as providing food like watermelons.

Intercroping Jatropha with Palm or Coconut tree's is benificial for the Jatropha's environment this is the symbiosis intercroping provides when the Jatropha grows with the Palm, the Palm shades the Jatropha and the Jatropha renitrogenises the soil giving the Palm nutrients to grow.

The more we consider intercroping as an alternative to monoculture and the more thought that is put into the design of a Jatropha plantation the better it will function as a commercially and social ecosystem.

Jatropha Plantations cannot solve the entire worlds need for bio aviation fuel however in time the production of Bio Fuels from sustainable feed stocks such as Jatropha will increase as the world moves towards cleaner, greener fuels, however Jatropha Plantations as monoculture solely for the production of biofuel are not as sound as a well thought out polyculture providing, food and fuel security.

I hope this gives anyone interested in growing Jatropha some ideas as to how they can improve on all the monoculture plantations as I feel the monocultureists are motivated more by Crude Jatropha Oil production rather than sustainability and community food / fuel security.

Friday, 18 March 2011

How to Intercrop Jatropha Bio Fuel Feedstock with Food Crops

Intercropping, or polyculture, is an agricultural method of farming whereby two or more crops are grown together. They can be mixed in a field with no delimited rows or each crop given its own rows among the others. Intercropping seeks to create symbiotic relationships whilst decreasing competition for resources.

Jatropha Curcas is a good candidate for intercropping because it renitrogenises the soil in addition to being a perennial and hardy plant. The valuable, oil-producing seeds of Jatropha Curcas can be harvested and turned into Bio Fuels as well as fruits of companion plants which can give food security and sustainability to a plantation providing  both food and fuel security on marginal land in some of the poorest regions in the world such as Central Africa.

Coconut or Palm trees provide shade for the Jatropha in the same way as Jatropha provides shade for lettuce, this is a symbiotic relationship.

Jatropha Curcas can be intercropped with:
  • Coconut or Palm Trees
  • Watermelons
  • Tomato Plants
  • Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Legumes
  • Basil
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Spices
Plant Jatropha 5 feet apart in rows spaced 10 feet apart. If you cannot obtain juvenile trees, propagate seeds indoors after soaking in warm water for 8 hours.

During the summer tomatoes, peppers and watermelon can be planted in rows between the trees.

Plant tomatoes at least 2 feet away from the Jatropha and give a 3-foot radius to grow.

Plant watermelon four seeds at a time in small mounds directly in between Jatropha rows. Do not plant any other crops within 10 feet of the watermelon seed mounds.

Plants peppers at least 2 feet from Jatropha and give a 1.5-foot radius to grow.

When the Jatropha has reached full mature height, plant climbers at its base such as cucumbers and legumes. The climbers can be trained to grow up the plant with twine ties.

Shade-tolerant plants like basil, chard and lettuce can also be planted around the base of Jatropha, Plant in concentric circles. For Chard and Lettuce take advantage of the shade for end-of-season growing when the weather warms.

When Jatropha reaches its full height, continue to intercrop in rows between the trees. Simply transplant seedlings after pruning the Jatropha in February.

Monday, 14 March 2011

How to Refine Crude Jatropha Oil For Bio Diesel

Oil extracted from the seeds of the Jatropha plant is used as a green alternative to fossil fuel. Jatropha oil comes from seeds of the perennial Jatropha plant. According to the Turkish Agricultural Guide Organization, each seed is 40 percent oil and one square mile of Jatropha is capable of yielding 2000 barrels of biodiesel fuel.

The Jatropha Curacas plant is generally cultivated for the purpose of extracting crude Jatropha oil. (CJO) The seeds are the primary source from which the oil is extracted. Owing to the toxicity of Jatropha seeds they are not ingested by humans as they contain rycin.
The major goal of Jatropha cultivation, therefore, is performed for the sake of extracting Jatropha oil. The optimum oil content in Jatropha plants varies between species and genetic variants.  
gouttes de pluie sur jeune feuille de jatropha image by Unclesam from
It is often considered that a more effective extraction technique would yield greater quantities of oil. This is partly inaccurate, since an effective extraction method would only yield the optimum quantity and not more than that.

Climatic and soil conditions generally affect the yield of the oil as well. However, improper processing techniques such as prolonged exposure of the harvested seeds to direct sunlight can impair the oil yield considerably.

The maximum oil content that has been reported in Jatropha seeds has been close to 47%. However, the accepted average is 40%, and the fraction that can be extracted is taken to be around 91%. 

Refining Crude Jatropha oil uses Potasium Hydroxide as a catalyst to break the oil's triglyceride chain and reduce its viscosity for use in automotive engines.

Potassium Hydroxide breaks the triglyceride chain by removing the binding glycerin molecule. This process is called Trans-Ester-Fication. The remaining Jatropha oil molecules can then be burnt by automotive diesel engines as biodiesel or further refined to make Bio Synthetic Parafinic Kerosine (Bio SPK)

Potassium Hydroxide is a preferable catalyist to Sodium Hydroxide in the refining of Crude Jatropha Oil. (CJO)

  • 1.lite Crude Jatropha Oil (Crush 3kg of Seed)
  • 200ml methanol, 99+% pure
  • 7.5 grams Potassium Hydroxide
  • Blender with glass container
  • Scales
  • 2 glass beakers
  • 2  litre Coke Type Bottles
  • Plastic funnels
  • 3 bottles, 2.5-quart or larger
  • Thermometer
  • Respirator
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles
Pour the methanol into the plastic container and add the 7.5 grams of Potassium Hydroxide screw the cap on tightly. Swirl and shake the container to dissolve the Potassium Hydroxide. Wait until the particles have dissolved to continue. This is your methoxide catalyst.

Heat the Jatropha oil to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and pour it into the blender. Add the methoxide from the plastic container. Cap the blender tightly and mix on low for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture from the blender into one of the glass bottles. Screw the lid on tightly and let the mixture settle for at least 72 hours to get the best possible most complete reaction.

Uncap the bottle and remove the layer of biodiesel and transfer it to a bottle to wash it in, two litre coke bottles are ideal for a small scale wash.

Leave the darker layer of glycerin that's settled at the bottom of the first bottle in the open air for three weeks for any excess methanol to evaporate and the glycerin can be used to make natural soap.

Wash the biodiesel by pouring it into one of the plastic bottles and adding half a litre of distilled (boiled tap) water and agitating the mixture until the oil and water appear thoroughly combined.

Let the bottle sit for at least three hours, drain the water from the bottom of the bottle, remember to wear gloves as this is "caustic water" which can be used as drain cleaner or for making soap.

Keep washing the biodiesel until the water is clear, your biofuel should then be left to stand for 24 hours in a dry place so that any excess water can evaporate. Your Jatropha Oil has now been refined and is ready to use in any diesel engine!

To make batches bigger than 1 litre at a time you will need a Biodiesel Processor the cheapest way is to build your own this is a good rescource that you can use to start building your own bio diesel processor at home.

How to Plant Jatropha Curcas for Sustainable Bio Fuels

How To Plant Jatropha Curcas For Sustainable Bio Aviation Fuel

Jatropha Curcas, also known as Barbados nut or purging nut, is a semi-evergreen flowering shrub that is found in many continents Africa, India to Mexico where a non toxic genus grows and Central America.


Jatropha Caracas may have become known as the Barbados nut as the Portuguese brought the Jatropha from the Caribbean to Africa. Jatropha (Jatropha curcas) is a warm-climate bush that produces a black oilseed about the size of a large bean.

Although both plant and the oil from its seed are inedible and poisonous, Jatropha has gained fame as a potential source of biofuel. To grow it on a large scale, you need land in a tropical region. Jatropha also grows as a hedge and it prefers dry conditions, doing well in sandy soil, which doesn't hold onto moisture.

Jatropha Curcas prefers to grow in a tropical and subtropical climate. Jatropha grows best in areas where the average temperature is between 68 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jatropha is currently being grown in Africa, India, Philippines and United States as a potential source of bio fuel.

Successful cultivation of Jatropha Curcas for Bio Diesel or Bio Aviation Fuel (Bio SPK) depends largely on proper site selection, preparation and planting practices. My aim is ultimately to use hydroponic methods to grow Jatropha in optimum conditions to produce the UK’s first fully sustainable Bio Aviation Fuel.

Wherever in the world you are thinking of growing Jatropha you first need to choose a planting location that meets the cultivation requirements of your Jatropha curcas plant. Look for a location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day and has well-draining soil.

Prepare the location carefully before planting the Jatropha curcas, a plot that provides fast drainage and air circulation underground is ideal; incorporate a 2- to 3-inch layer of manure into the soil. Jatropha also thrives in low-nutrient ground, but its fruit yield isn't as abundant.

Remove any rocks, sticks or other debris and dig up the roots of perennial weed plants that would compete for water with your Jatropha.

Then you can dig a planting hole for your Jatropha curcas that is just slightly wider than its root system which is about 2.5 square meters per plant. The taproot can reach depths of 7 meters in terms of a plantation 2500 plants per Hectare can be planted with the right conditions.

There are lots of theories as to the correct number of plants per hectare, which I welcome this is my best representation of an ideal plantation with the knowledge available to me.

Jatropha can be intercropped with palm trees, watermelons, spices as well as maize and other food crops which should be taken into consideration when planning the planting out of your Jatropha.

If you are planting from seed you first need to soak the seeds in water for eight hours before planting them. If they're still in hulls, crack them and remove the seeds before placing them in water.

Plan to sow your Jatropha seeds at the beginning of the rainy season

If you have germinated your seeds and have your Jatropha growing in containers make the hole no deeper than the height of the Jatropha nursery container.  Work 2 cups equal parts peat moss and coarse builder's sand into the soil that was displaced by digging the planting hole. A few rocks and some bone meal will aid aeration, drainage and provide nutrients.

You can also use composted glycerine by product from producing bio diesel from crude Jatropha oil and use this as a fertiliser as well as the seed husks if you are planting out seedlings from an existing plantation.
Remove the Jatropha curcas plant from its nursery container and use your fingers to gently untangle the plant's roots. Lower the plant into the prepared hole and fill in the space around the plant with the soil mix. Pack down the surface of the soil around your plant.

Water the Jatropha curcas after planting to moisten the soil and eliminate air pockets trapped around the plant's roots. Slow-water with a drip, soaker or bubble hose to moisten the soil to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches; irrigate your seeds twice a day. From the eighth day on, reduce the watering to once daily.

Jatropha seeds can be harvested one year later, after the fruit becomes yellow to brown. Store or replant them. Use seeds that have dried and turned black for biofuel production. 3kg of Jatropha seed will produce 1 litre of Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO) which can be used to make bio diesel.

Monday, 28 February 2011

First UK Attempt At Growing Jatropha Germination Failure Rates

Having several years experience in growing Jatropha in warm climates I decided to try growing some Namibian Jatropha Seeds which when full grown should look like this....

Here is a seed taken from the Namibian research center you can see the husks that contained the Jatropha seed, the physic nut that produces the crude jatropha oil that goes to produce bio diesel and bio SPK for aviation fuel.

The husks can be used as fertilizer as can the glycerin byproduct from production of Bio Aviation Fuel, or sterilised and used as animal food, once the rycin has been removed. There is a non toxic Jatropha strain from Mexico which will be used for the next attempt to grow Jatropha in the UK.

 The Jatropha nut produces about 68% of its weight in crude jatropha oil (CJO) so you need about 3kg of Jatropha seeds to produce about 1 litre of Bio Diesel and 0.2 litre of Glycerin as well as the seed "cake" which can again be used for fertilizer of animal feed.

Only 15% of the CJO can be converted into Bio SPK (Synthetic Paraffin Kerosene) meaning that the worlds aviation industry should really pay attention to British Jatropha Growers - Worldwide as the UK government has been totally unsupportive of many UK based Jatropha Growing projects.

Jatropha seeds that are older than a year only have an 80% chance of germination, first the Jatropha nut from Namibia was soaked in water then left in tissue paper for several days.  

After the third day the seed had opened from here the tap root should fold out and push the first leaves and the seed casing towards the sun.... or that is how it is supposed to happen!

The seed pod fully opened, however the tap root failed and the pulp inside the seed case became mouldy and was thrown into the compost. Fortunately I was reminded of a 20 Nut sample that had been ordered from Mexico some time ago, lurking under a friends bed....

So the UK's First attempt at growing Jatropha is back at the germination phase, there is no point discussing soil types, nutrients etc at this stage until there are seedlings to put into the soil.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Flying In The Face Of Climate Change - Douglas Blackwell MioD

We’re all polluting our planet. Everything we touch in our homes, at work and on the journey in between, has been made in processes that dump CO2 into the atmosphere. Scientists may debate the exact amount of damage we’re causing and the long-term effects, but the fact remains: every minute of every day we’re releasing greenhouse gases (GHG).

Aviation seems like an obvious culprit, with vapour trails scarring our clear blue skies. Despite technology that enables us to sit at a home computer having simultaneous video conferences with people in Los Angeles and Sydney, we love to fly. It’s a preference that’s producing a lot of turbulence these days.

Aviation’s supporters point out that flying is responsible for just two percent of global CO2 emissions. Even so, the industry is in the process of making a remarkable turnaround, fostered by external regulation and internal determination. It provides a good and clear example of what’s possible.

The science is simple: every tonne of aviation fuel burned produces 3.15 tonnes of GHG. Aviation’s industry body, IATA, has responded in a number of ways, including programmes to reduce fuel burned and testing renewable biofuels. Encouraged by past success in cutting CO2 emissions, IATA recently increased its former target to use six percent of renewable-source fuel by 2020 to ten percent by 2017.

Cap and Trade

A big spur for the aviation industry is the impending threat of emissions limits and trading. The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme caps the amount of GHG that countries can release and operates a market for excess amounts and shortfalls. The airline industry will be roped in from 2012 onwards. The effect on airlines will be colossal, with an additional one billion Euros in carbon costs added to their fuel bill.

To meet the challenge, leading aviation players are co-operating to develop alternative fuels that cut GHG emissions and satisfy criteria for sustainability. They are working to a new fuel specification in which renewable fuel, Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (bio-SPK), is blended 50 percent with regular Jet A1.

Test results are encouraging. They show that bio-SPK has nearly identical fuel properties to jet fuel and has performed successfully in tests carried out by Continental Airlines, Air New Zealand and Japan Airlines. Rigorous analysis of the results shows no adverse effects from using the 50/50 blend but does show a cut in CO2 emissions of 60 to 65 percent, as well as a 1.1 percent saving in fuel consumption on long-haul distances.

Food or Fuel?

So biofuels look set to save the aviation industry a great deal of money in fuel costs and carbon charges, but is it sustainable? The answer may partly come from certification schemes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), which developed a sustainability Standard for biofuel production.
The RSB is a global initiative coordinated by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, in which all stakeholders within and outside the supply chain can participate (farmers, non-governmental organisations, oil companies, airlines, experts, governments, and inter-governmental agencies). All these actors share the concern of the sustainability of biofuel production and processing. The RSB develops a third-party certification system based on biofuel sustainability Standard embracing environmental, social and economic principles and criteria.

The RSB Standard looks at GHG emissions themselves, as well as conservation, water, air, waste management, human rights, social development, food security and land rights. The objective of the RSB is to provide a credible tool that ensures better biofuels for biofuel buyers, regulators and the public over the entire supply chain of growing, extracting, refining and supplying.

IATA’s focus is on an alternative biomass fuel that can be produced sustainably without harming food production or fresh water usage, and can cut CO2 emissions by 80 percent. Preferred alternative feedstocks include Camelina and Jatropha. The latter, while not widely known, is proving to be one of the most promising.

The Jatropha Curcas plant is a perennial bushy tree that grows within the tropical belt in arid conditions. The nuts it produces as seeds give four to five times as much oil as canola (rapeseed), as much as 30% to 35% of their own weight. Not only is it immensely productive, Jatropha is a true, sustainable, alternative biofuel. It grows in marginal soils, so it doesn’t steal land from food production. The tree doesn’t need to be fertilised or burned back after harvest. Jatropha, which is inedible to humans and animals, is refined into pure bio-diesel and bio-aviation fuels. The end-product seedcake can be heat- and pressure-treated to make animal feed or turned into fuel to replace wood.

Carbon in Chains

Jatropha was one of the components of the 50/50 blend tested by airlines. As a fuel it works. But to prove sustainability and secure a much-prized accreditation, growers need to be diligent agriculturally, commercially and socially. Growers of Jatropha have found themselves extending their business downstream into oil extraction and refining. The reason is that the aviation industry will not buy fuel from a non-accredited source, because nothing less than fully certified fuel will gain exemption from carbon emission charges.

To gain accreditation, biofuel suppliers must show they have measured every aspect of carbon capture from day one of planting through to the aircraft’s fuel tanks. Growers must measure the entire carbon custody chain above and below ground, including harvesting, transport, extracting the Jatropha oil and refining into bio-SPK.

Currently, Anglo African Farm’s process produces a 68 percent saving of GHG emissions before transport and refining. Over time, plantations grow more canopy sucking in more carbon. That, plus precise auditing and production techniques, is likely to boost savings up to around 88 percent, higher than IATA’s 80 percent target. At this level, biofuel is extremely attractive. If the airline uses an 88 percent certified fuel, it can prove it has cut its carbon dump by that amount.

Sustainable for Everyone – Community Development

Using alternative generation feedstock may limit the food for fuel argument, but may not be sufficient to address all impacts. The RSB is currently developing an approach to address indirect impacts of growing biofuel feedstocks, especially on GHG emissions, local communities and wildlife habitats.

As an example of the level of effort producers put into meeting sustainability targets, Anglo African Farm allocates one third of its 12,500 hectare Jatropha plantation to local communities. Of this share, they teach local farmers how to efficiently grow maize and legumes – both for local consumption – plus a section of rain-fed Jatropha which is sold back to Anglo African Farm for cash.

As well as providing hundreds of jobs, the main plantation pays rent to local chiefs and five percent of profits from the sale of the crops go to a community uplift programme to improve living standards.

Because transport has to be included in the carbon cost of biofuel, production of Jatropha oil and its subsequent refining have to take place as close to source as possible. In Africa, river transport on barges is preferred over road haulage. Plantations are sited not solely on available land, but where transport links exist to oil extraction and refining facilities. These installations, again, represent rare and important investments in parts of Africa that suffer from extreme poverty.

As the enterprise begins to produce biofuel on an industrial scale, other investors will be encouraged to begin planting nearby. Buying in from other growers is an important element in the economics of the business model and for supplying the huge need of the aviation industry for biofuel.

The Scale Of The Need

IATA’s Director-General, Giovanni Bisignani, has said IATA expects the aviation industry to use ten percent bio-fuel to power aircraft by 2017. The current annual usage is 250 billion litres. With annual growth in traffic of five percent, the industry will need 351 billion litres of jet fuel by 2017 from conventional hydrocarbon sources.

The target of using ten percent biofuel in the form of FAA certified J50 blend fuel – 50 percent hydrocarbon kerosene and 50 percent bio kerosene (Bio-SPK) – will require 17.5 billion litres of bio kerosene. This will need 45 million tonnes of Jatropha oil seed in production by 2017, covering a land mass of ten million hectares. IATA’s other preferred biomass sources (algae and Camelina) will augment supplies, but not by enough. Clearly, then, if the aviation industry is to meet its own targets, production of bio-feedstocks must be ramped up on a colossal scale.

Federal and EU regulators will continue to put financial pressure on CO2 emissions. Industry bodies have set themselves ambitious targets to cut GHG emissions. Biofuels have proven themselves in performance as technically sound, drop-in fuels for aircraft. They reduce immensely the carbon output of flying by better fuel performance and much lower CO2 emissions.

Biofuel will keep us flying, responsibly. Its most useful source, Jatropha, will bloom across the arid grasslands of Africa. The seeds of this humble plant will help roll back the advance of climate change, keeping our aircraft in the skies, taking us to our business meetings and our beach towels to holidays in the sun. And as a bonus, Jatropha will bring prosperity to some of the poorest people on earth.

I call that progress.

Douglas Blackwell MioD