December 17, 2008

Chevron funds jatropha study in California

The University of California, Davis is conducting research on the oil plant jatropha to determine if the plant can be grown successfully and profitably in Southern California to produce biodiesel.

Jatropha seeds from India grown in a UC Davis greenhouse were transplanted this spring into an acre parcel at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC) in Holtville, Calif. The trial is funded by Chevron.

Jatropha is a tropical, drought tolerant, perennial plant grown as a tree or shrub up to 13 feet in height. The fruit has three kidney-bean sized seeds which contain about 50 percent oil.

"I think jatropha would be ideal for this area," said Sham Goyal, University of California (UC), Davis agronomist, and a member of the university's jatropha research team. "A realistic estimate is an acre of jatropha could produce from 500 to 600 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year. If you're paying US$5 per gallon for diesel, that's about US$2,500 per acre of gross return."

Source : WesternFarmPress

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