SGB signs deals in Brazil to develop jatropha as energy crop
SG Biofuels Inc., an energy crop company delivering high-performance bioenergy solutions for the renewable fuel, biomass and chemical markets, has signed landmark agreements in Brazil with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corp.), the country’s leading agricultural research institution, and with Fiagril, one of the country’s leading biodiesel refiners, to advance the development of jatropha as a next-generation energy crop.
SGB’s strategic research partnership with Embrapa will combine the company’s breeding and genomics platform, including the largest and most diverse library of genetic material of jatropha in the world, with Embrapa's leadership in the advancement of new technologies that have increased agricultural productivity in Brazil. Embrapa has identified jatropha as one of the most promising new energy crops in Brazil.
The agreement with Fiagril, the third largest company in the state of Mato Grosso with revenues in excess of $1 billion per year, includes the establishment of a JMax Knowledge Center near Fiagril’s 200,000 metric ton capacity biodiesel plant in Mato Grosso. The center is a professionally managed trial where SGB is advancing elite jatropha adapted to local growing conditions while establishing best agronomic practices to enable successful commercial deployment.
“Our agreements with Embrapa and Fiagril validate the two years of progress we’ve made advancing our genetics in Brazil and provide a strong platform from which to quickly expand commercial production,” said Kirk Haney, president and CEO. “We look forward to benefiting from Embrapa’s expertise in Brazilian agriculture as we deploy jatropha projects for Fiagril and other customers.”
Since its establishment in 1973, Embrapa has generated almost 9,000 technologies, products and services for Brazilian agriculture, along with the institutions that form the National Agricultural Research System. The work has opened new agricultural frontiers, raising productivity and reducing production costs in the field. With that, Brazil has improved food security, promoting conservation of natural resources and the environment and generating income in rural areas.
“We have identified jatropha as one of the most promising energy crops for the production of oil for biodiesel and biojet fuel in Brazil,” said Manoel Souza, general director of Embrapa Agroenergy. “The first efforts to deploy the crop in Brazil were plagued by a lack of improved cultivars and insufficient technological expertise. We’re confident that through our partnership with SGB we can quickly overcome those challenges.”
In Brazil, SGB has deployed three JMax Knowledge Centers, including one in conjunction with a multistakeholder initiative including JetBio, Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank, Bioventures Brasil, Air BP and TAM Airlines. SGB is working with its partners on a multiphased program leading to the deployment of intercropped jatropha plantations in the Central-west region of Brazil for the purpose of biojet fuel production. SGB’s trials continue to demonstrate the superior performance of its jatropha hybrids compared to commercial varieties in terms of plant vigor, health, flowering consistency, stress tolerance, seed and oil yield across multiple geographies.
“Working in partnership with Fiagril, we look forward to deploying our elite Jatropha hybrids as a complementary crop to soybean in Mato Grosso and ultimately expanding the available feedstock supply for their biorefinery,” said Haney.