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SG Biofuels Identifies Strains of Cold-Tolerant Jatropha

SG Biofuels (earlier post) has identified several strains of cold tolerant Jatropha capable of thriving in climates previously thought to be outside of the crop’s preferred subtropical habitat. Utilizing the strains, the company has initiated a breeding program to develop Jatropha as an oil-producing crop in colder climates of the United States.

The strains are included among thousands of variations of Jatropha curcas the firm has collected from a range of climates and geographies around the world as part of its Genetic Resource Center, the world’s largest, most diverse collection of Jatropha genetic material. (Earlier post.)

While Jatropha is known to thrive in warm, tropical climates, its efficacy and yield in colder regions has been considerably lower. We believe that we have located several strains that can make Jatropha a viable oil-producing crop in a much broader range of climates here in the United States.

—Kirk Haney, President and CEO SG Biofuels

The strains were collected from various sites in Central America at elevations ranging from 1,600 meters (5,200 feet) to more than 1,800 meters (about 6,000 feet), where the average daily low temperature between December and February are typically around 45 °F (7 °C), and nightly temperatures can fall well below freezing.

We typically see Jatropha thriving in climates where the average minimum temperature is about 60 degrees or more during those coldest months of the year. To find a collection of strains that thrive at higher elevations with considerably lower temperatures provides us with a tremendous opportunity to utilize these naturally cold adapted ecotypes to breed new varieties that will perform well in colder climates.

—Dr. Robert Schmidt, chief scientist for SG Biofuels

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, but its effective growing range has been limited by its lack of tolerance for freezing temperatures.

With proper site selection and agronomic practices, oil yields of 200-300 gallons of extractable oil per acre are realistic today, according to SG Biofuels. In addition, Jatropha has very-low input costs relative to other biofuel feedstocks, which makes Jatropha profitable with current yields.



300 gal per acre, assuming one harvest per year, is 10.5 million gallons per 35,000 acre project per year. A sweet sorghum ethanol project I know of is proposing about 72 million gallons of fuel per year, with 2 harvests, PLUS a 40 MW power plant that will be burning bagasse from the sorghum. Much better economics with sweet sorghum! They need to be tinkering around with sweet sorghum instead of jatropha.


Mister eji

Sweet shorum needs arable lands, tilling is non perennnial requires tons of fertilizer, and a complex processing and still to find a solution to carry the huge amount biomass. Jatropha yield oil that has twice the energy content of ethanol, grow on marginal lands without fertilizer and tilling and requires no processing, neither carriage of huge amount of biomass. So we are not talking about the same thing.


@ Tree:

It doesn't have to be sorghum, it could be miscanthus which can grow in colder climates. I don't think these third world production sites are so bassackwards these days that they can't figure out how to harvest it efficiently & generate electricity and be carbon negative at the end of the day.


Cellulosic ethanol is not for poor country, you need too much capital investment. With Jatropha you only need labor, stick that in your wood made skull


As already seen in GCC, it looks like Jatropha uses too much water.
There is a very good article in MIT Technology Review this morning.
I Quote:
"The claim that jatropha doesn't compete for water and land with food crops is complete nonsense," says study coauthor Arjen Hoekstra. The researcher says it's true that the plant can grow with little water and can survive through periods of drought, but to flourish, it needs good growing conditions just like any other plant. "If there isn't sufficient water, you get a low amount of oil production," Hoekstra says.

So, once again, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The amounts of water they use is frightening.
You wouldn't want to run an SUV on biofuels, by the look of it.


@ Tree:

Saying I have a wood-made skull was mean, hurtful & insensitive. As for "too much capital investment" - with the kinds of benefits vs. costs for miscanthus / sorghum ethanol, if it is done right, there could be big $$$$ made. There is a significant investment up-front, but economies of scale make it much more attractive over time, esp. if you can get power generation out of the project also.



Yes it is means, the problem with you is that it is hard to get you land on planet earth, you stick to AWG denial, want no restrictions on gaz consumption if people can afford it, you want to ride a truck just to be big on the road, refuse gas tax, think that what is true in US is also true for the rest of the world. We won't make any problem if everybody think like you, do you realize that ?

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