GM joins hands with US Department of Energy and CSMCRI to Develop Jatropha for Biofuel

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Fuel crisis is not a new issue. It has been a major worry for most of the Developed as well as Developing nations. Various solutions are being formulated, two of which are electric vehicles and alternative fuels. To work more on the second solution, a five year partnership has been signed between India’s Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) and the General Motors and the US Department of Energy (DOE) duo. CSMCRI is based in Bhavnagar, Gujarat and will work together with the partners to formulate a Bio fuel energy crop out of Jatropha. Jatropha is a plant which is traditionally considered as weed. The partnership intends to prove that this weed could be made to some good use due to its ability to produce significant quantities of oil for commercial scale conversion to biodiesel. Developing new varieties of the plant will also be a part of the partnership.

India has always been an agricultural country. The country has suffered the odds such as droughts, floods, lack of fertility and cultivable land. But the Jatropha is not a big deal to grow as it is a draught resistant crop which requires minimum care to grow. Jatropha, unlike corn and sugar which is produced in other parts of the world for Bio fuel, is inedible. Thus it will have nothing to do with the food chain.

Two new farms will be established by the new partnership including a 33 hectare plot in Bhavnagar and a 20-hectare plot in Kalol. GM and CSMCRI’s existing 30-hectare jatropha farm in Bhavnagar will also be overseen by this.

“If jatropha proves commercially viable, it will reduce India’s dependence on imported oil while cutting greenhouse gas emissions and promoting economic growth,” he said.  “And if jatropha does indeed prove commercially viable, GM India will be ready to respond by introducing biodiesel-capable products,” said Mr. Karl Slym, President and Managing Director of General Motors India  who believes that the partnership is an example of the companies commitment towards green technology and alternative fuel.

“Jatropha is emerging as a promising feedstock choice and alternative fuel source in India.  Lab-optimized strains of jatropha, produced through selective and marker-assisted breeding, will be cultivated by our partnership. CSMCRI, under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India will also play an important role in the cultivation of our jatropha plantations. A complete lifecycle analysis will be conducted to evaluate the environmental impact, starting with fertilizer production from raw materials and ending with the harvesting of the jatropha fruit, which contains the oil,” said Dr. Pushpito Ghosh, Director of CSMCRI.

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