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US start-up uses jatropha plant seeds for biofuel

PTI | Last Updated: Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 21:35

New York: A US company is eyeing countries such as India and Brazil to grow seeds of jatropha - the inedible, drought-resistant plant - to produce high-quality oil that can be refined into low-carbon jet fuel or diesel.

The San Diego start-up SGB is growing hybrid strains of the plant that produce biofuel in quantities that it says are competitive with petroleum priced at USD 99 a barrel.
Touted as the next big thing in biofuels about six years ago, jatropha attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, `New York Times` reported.

However, jatropha fell from favour due to economic recession and as growers found that the wild bush yielded too few seeds to produce enough petroleum to be profitable.

But, owing to advances in molecular genetics and DNA sequencing technology, SGB, that planted the bushes has in a few years, succeeded in domesticating jatropha, a process that once took decades.
The company has deals to plant 250,000 acres of jatropha in Brazil, India and other countries expected to eventually produce about 70 million gallons of fuel a year, the report said.

The advance has already attracted interest of energy giants, airlines and other multinational companies seeking alternatives to fossil fuels.

First Published: Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 21:35
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