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  1. #1
    Senior Member Sahara's Avatar
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    Default Weed becoming the new bio fuel

    No not that type of weed, don't panic.

    Weed moves from bowels to biofuel


    Ben Macintyre | July 30, 2007

    THE jatropha bush seems an unlikely prize in the hunt for alternative energy, being an ugly, fast-growing, poisonous weed.

    Hitherto, its use has principally been as a constipation remedy. Very soon, however, it may be powering your car.

    Almost overnight, the unloved Jatropha curcus has become an agricultural and economic celebrity with the discovery that it may just be the ideal biofuel crop, an alternative to fossil fuels for a world dangerously dependent on oil supplies and deeply alarmed by the effects of global warming.

    The hardy jatropha, resilient to pests and resistant to drought, produces seeds with up to 40 per cent oil content. When the seeds are crushed, the resulting jatropha oil can be burnt in a standard diesel car, while the residue can be processed into biomass to power electricity plants.

    As the search for alternative energy sources gathers pace, the jatropha has provoked something like a gold rush. BP announced last week that it was investing almost pound stg. 32 million ($76million) in a jatropha joint venture with British biofuels company D1 Oils.

    Even Bob Geldof has entered the fray, becoming a special adviser to Helius Energy, a British company developing jatropha as an alternative to fossil fuels. Lex Worrall, its chief executive, says: "Every hectare can produce 2.7 tonnes of oil and about four tonnes of biomass. Every 8000 hectares of the plant can run a 1.5 megawatt station, enough to power 2500 homes."

    The jatropha grows in tropical and subtropical climates. Whereas other biofuel feedstocks, such as palm oil or corn for ethanol, require reasonable soils on which other crops might be grown, jatropha is prepared to put down roots almost anywhere.

    Scientists say that it can grow in the poorest wasteland, generating topsoil and helping to stall erosion, but also absorbing carbon dioxide as it grows, thus making it carbon neutral even when burnt. A jatropha bush can live for up to 50 years, producing oil in its second year of growth, and survive up to three consecutive years of drought.

    In India, about 11 million ha have been identified as potential land on which to grow jatropha. The first jatropha-fuelled power station is expected to begin supplying electricity in Swaziland in three years. And companies from Europe and India have begun buying land in Africa as potential plantations.

    The jatropha, a native of Central America, was brought to Europe by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century and has since spread worldwide, even though, until recently, it had few uses: malaria treatment, a windbreak for animals, live fencing and candle-making. An ingredient in folk remedies around the world, it earned the nickname "physic nut", but its sap is a skin irritant, and ingesting three untreated seeds can kill a person.Although some places have embraced it, others are more cautious. Western Australia banned the plant last year as invasive and highly toxic to people and animals.

    Yet a combination of economic, climatic and political factors have made the search for a more effective biofuel a priority among energy companies. Britain now requires that biofuels comprise 5 per cent of the transport fuel mix by 2010, and the European Union has mandated that all cars must run on 20per cent biodiesel by 2020. Biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80 per cent compared with petroleum diesel.

    China is planning an 80,000-acre plantation in Sichuan, and the BP-D1 team hopes to have one million ha under cultivation in four years.
    Weed moves from bowels to biofuel | The Australian

    This sounds very positive, and interesting, what do you think? good step forward or more hype?
    "No one can be free of the chains that surround them"

  2. #2
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    My random thoughts are:
    1.) I hope hubby's 401K includes BP stocks
    2.) I wonder if it can grow in Mexico? If so, I hope they are ready to be invaded.
    3.) It can't possibly be worse than ethanol.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sahara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    My random thoughts are:
    1.) I hope hubby's 401K includes BP stocks
    Good thought, I wish I had that kind of financial savvy, that thought about bp stocks didn't even cross my mind damn it.
    "No one can be free of the chains that surround them"

  4. #4
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Do you think we can actually use this, and will it be implemented? I don't know if the oil companies are going to allow it. How well will cars run on this fuel, and how will we adapt existing gasoline cars to run on it? These will all factor into whether this will be accepted as a potential fuel source. Personally, however, I think anything that reduces dependency on fossil fuels is a good thing.

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