Jatropha curcas (“Jatropha”) is a non-edible, subtropical crop that produces oil bearing seeds, which can be used for a wide variety of bio-based materials including biodiesel, biojet fuel and specialty chemicals. Because of its numerous economic and sustainable attributes, it has been identified as one of the most viable feedstocks for large-scale production of sustainable plant oil.
Jatropha currently grows best in a region known as 'The Jatropha Belt', located between 30°N and 35°S. This includes both tropical and subtropical areas of Central and South America, India, Africa and Southeast Asia. Within these regions, millions of acres of marginalized land exists with suitable amounts of rainfall and desirable soil conditions for the cultivation of Jatropha.
Once harvested, Jatropha's seeds are crushed and the resulting oil can be processed to produce high-quality biodiesel for a standard diesel engine (U.S. ASTM 6751 and E.U. EN14214 standards), bio jet fuel, or it can be used for other energy needs such as heating oil.
Jatropha's ability to grow on marginal land and produce high quantities of sustainable oil quickly gained it favor over alternative feedstocks. Governments, investors and multinational enterprises began to adopt Jatropha with hopes of addressing climate change, energy security and rural development. Unfortunately, the crop had not yet undergone professional domestication, agronomic best practices were not properly developed, and many early projects failed.
Today, a new era of Jatropha has emerged that is realizing the economic and environmental potential of the renewable energy crop. Investments and collaborative efforts among governments, research agencies, energy, transportation and agribusiness companies around the world are driving significant advancements through breeding, biotechnology and agronomics, resulting in significant gains in productivity and profitability.