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SG Biofuels Launches Genetic Resource Center to Accelerate Large-Scale Production of Jatropha Oil

SG Biofuels opened its Jatropha Genetic Resource Center (GRC) to further accelerate profitable, large-scale production of Jatropha as a low-cost, sustainable source of feedstock for biofuel.

“Based on early returns from our genetic research, as well as experience with other similar, undomesticated crops, we are confident we can double the yield of Jatropha within the next few years”
—Kirk Haney, president and CEO
SG Biofuels

With research sites in San Diego and several Latin American countries, SG Biofuels and its GRC posses the largest, most genetically diverse library of Jatropha genetic material in the world. SG Biofuels says that the GRC will enable genetic improvements that will enhance yield, improve agronomic practices and broaden the effective growing range of the crop, which results in no direct or indirect land use changes.

Jatropha curcas is a non-edible shrub that is native to Central America. Its seeds contain high amounts of oil that can be used for a variety of bio-based materials including biodiesel and feedstock substitutes for the petrochemical and jet fuel industries. It can be effectively grown on abandoned lands that are unsuitable for other crops.

The company’s team of genetic scientists, led by Dr. Robert Schmidt of the University of California, San Diego includes three members of the National Academy of Sciences. Through its GRC, SG Biofuels has begun evaluating thousands of diverse accessions of Jatropha obtained from a range of geographical and climatic conditions.

Research efforts include selection and breeding, and the company has generated hybrids among genetically distinct lines to address such issues as yield, cold tolerance and resistance to insect pests. A range of opportunities exist to improve Jatropha’s oil yield and develop improved strains, including those that can further enhance production in colder climates of southern and southwestern United States.

With proper site selection and agronomic practices, oil yields of 200-300 gallons of extractable oil per acre (500 to 750 gallons per hectare) are realistic today, the company says. In addition, Jatropha has very-low input costs relative to other biofuel feedstocks, which makes Jatropha profitable with current yields.


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