ADM, Bayer and Daimler partner on Jatropha biodiesel project

By Tom Bryan | January 01, 2008
Web exclusive posted Jan. 10, 2008, at 3:28 p.m. CST

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bayer CropScience AG and Daimler AG plan to jointly explore the potential for a biodiesel industry based on Jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.). A respective memorandum of understanding was signed by the companies, Bayer Crop Science announced Jan. 9.

Jatropha, a tropical plant from the Euphorbia family, is seen by the three cooperating partners as a promising alternative energy feedstock for the production of biodiesel. Biodiesel derived from Jatropha nut kernels has properties similar to those of biofuels obtained from oilseed rapes. It is also characterized by a positive carbon dioxide and lifecycle greenhouse gas balance.

In this project, the companies are seeking to develop production and quality standards for Jatropha-based biofuel. ADM operates multiple biodiesel plants in Europe and has two U.S. biodiesel facilties, one in Velva, N.D., that it wholly owned and another in Mexico, Mo., which it holds a 49 percent marketshare in.

Bayer CropScience plans to develop and register herbicides, soil insecticides and fungicides for disease and pest control of Jatropha plants. At the end of last year, Daimler AG completed a wide-ranging five-year research project which demonstrated that Jatropha can be used and cultivated to obtain high-quality biodiesel and studied the use of this fuel in test vehicles. The company will continue to explore the interactions between fuel and engine in vehicles powered by Jatropha biodiesel and mixtures of this and other fuels.

Jatropha is actually a "wild plant", and therefore it has never been professionally cultivated. Recent studies show a potential of approximately 30 million hectares of land on which this plant could be grown, especially in South America, Africa and in Asian countries such as China, India or Indonesia. Since Jatropha can be cultivated on barren land, it does not compete for land that is being used for food production, and thus provides farmers with an additional source of income.

Source: Bayer CropScience

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