Rudolf Diesel's diesel engine allowed trains and ships to operate more efficiently with oil instead of coal. It is often reported that Diesel's engine ran on peanut oil. The engine worked so smoothly that hardly anyone was aware of it. It was built for using mineral oil but was then made to run on vegetable oil. No modifications were made to make vegetable oil compatible with the engine. In spite of the widespread use of fossil fuels, people are now becoming aware of the need for a greener world. Research on biofuels
is gaining more and more importance.
GM and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have taken a very important step. They will be partnering for five years to explore the potential of the jatropha plant as a sustainable biofuel energy crop. Yes, the jatropha which is traditionally considered a weed can be cultured to produce biodiesel. GM and DOE will soon show that jatropha oil can be produced in remarkable volumes to be converted into biodiesel. The two will experiment with new species of the plant. Varieties of the drought-resistant, non-edible weed that will be able to give very high yields and can survive in extreme climate will be grown.
India too will be a major player here. Two jatropha plots, 39.5 acre and 93.9 acre in Bhavnagar and Kalol respectively will be used for cultivation. In addition to this, the already existing 74.1 acre jatropha farm will also be managed under the project. Selective and marker-assisted breeding methods will be used for cultivation of the jatropha. The Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), with financial help from DOE and GM
, will manage all three farms. The environmental impact of growing the weed will completely be evaluated and dealt with.
GM and DOE have set out to prove to the world that jatropha is marketable and practical. The planet will gradually be less and less dependent on fossil fuels, thus reducing the greenhouse effect. At the same time our country will see economic growth too.
GM's image and sales, with biodiesel-capable automobiles, is going to be enhanced. The project is also going to re-state the car maker's pledge to create green technology and alternate fuel solutions. General Motors, Coskata Inc. and Mascoma Corp. have also joined hands to create the next generation ethanol plant
in Australia. So, the bio-ethanol study too is on its way.