Jatropha has been hailed as one of the best biodiesel crops in existence. Some of the more impressive features are the large yields of quality oil, and the ability to grow the plant with minimal water or fertilizer. As one of the most agriculturally gifted nations in the world, Brazil has a keen interest in all things biofuel. So it is no surprise the two were going to meet, and find a spark. Green Car Congress reports:
Local cooperatives and small farmers in the state of Tocantins will supply the facility with jatropha seeds from 48,000 hectares of plantations. The multi-feedstock technology provided by BDT accepts not only jatropha, but also animal tallow, allowing another possible source of needed income for local farmers.
"Brazil’s first commercial jatropha biodiesel project goes into operation this month following the delivery of BioDiesel Technologies’ (BDT) processing unit.
BDT will deliver an additional four processing units to increase the plant's annual capacity to 40,000 tonnes (about 10 million gallons US) by the end of 2007. The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will officially open the plant in September."
Jatropha is known to be toxic to animals and humans, which has raised some questions about the safety of jatropha oil and handling conditions for farmers. In the rush to biofuels are we missing some unintended consequences? While there is no single solution to biofuel production, public safety measures should be considered, especially in light of research showing that there may exist non-toxic jatropha varieties. It would be a shame to plant all those acres to realize you could have not only made a safer oil, but fed your cow, and possibly your family as well.