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New Wonder Weed to Fuel Cars?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the be-a-great-shift-in-the-balance-of-power dept.

Power 484

Hugh Pickens writes "Jatropha, an ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed that has been used as a remedy for constipation, may someday power your car. The plant, resilient to pests and resistant to drought, produces seeds with up to 40 per cent oil content that when crushed can be burned in a diesel car while the residue can be processed into biomass for power plants. Although jatropha has been used for decades by farmers in Africa as a living fence because its smell and taste repel grazing animals, the New York Times reports that jatropha may replace biofuels like ethanol that require large amounts of water, fertilizer, and energy, making their environmental benefits limited. Jatropha requires no pesticides, little water other than rain and no fertilizer beyond the nutrient-rich seed cake left after oil is pressed from its nuts. Poor farmers living close to the equator are planting jatropha on millions of acres spurred on by big oil companies like British Petroleum that are investing in jatropha cultivation."

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Just use hemp. (4, Insightful)

lecithin (745575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542435)

It is a very good biomass source, it grows just about everywhere.

You don't get high from smoking industrial hemp.

See:

http://fuelandfiber.com/Hemp4NRG/Hemp4NRGRV3.htm [fuelandfiber.com]

Re:Just use hemp. (5, Funny)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542493)

Surely you jest. Everyone knows hemp is a gateway fuel. Sure, filling up your car with a hemp once every week or so isn't going to do any serious damage. But then it becomes every week, then twice, three times, and pretty soon you need a heroin fuel injection every half hour to even get to the gas station, just to buy more.

Re:Just use hemp. (2, Interesting)

Da3vid (926771) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542793)

no fertilizer beyond the nutrient-rich seed cake left after oil is pressed from its nuts
You can't take oil from the plant, use the rest of the plant to grow more plants, take oil from them, rinse, repeat.

If you're going to take things from the system, you have to add things to the system somewhere. Whether those resources are added naturally or artificially, there has to be input somewhere.

Re:Just use hemp. (4, Informative)

mconeone (765767) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542865)

I'm guessing the sun, water, and soil play a part...

Re:Just use hemp. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542999)

Soil is a limited resource. If the oil takes something from the soil then your soil oil will decline oiva time.

Re:Just use hemp. (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543133)

Maybe you haven't heard about photosynthesis, a process most plants use that uses carbon dioxide and energy in the form of sunlight to make hydrocarbons? (the CO2 comes out of the cars burning the oil and out of animals as they metabolize hydrocarbons)

Problem in the math (2, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542527)

From your article: Grown for oilseed, Canadian grower's yields average 1 tonne/hectare, or about 400 lbs. per acre. Cannabis seed contains about 28% oil (112 lbs.), or about 15 gallons per acre.

To meet the gasoline consumption needs of the USA would require about 9 billion acres at the above rate. This is about 4 times the size of the USA, including Alaska, and thus is probably not a workable plan.

Re:Problem in the math (0, Flamebait)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542787)

To meet the gasoline consumption needs of the USA would require about 9 billion acres at the above rate

Except it's not petrol, it's diesel. If you were running nice fuel-efficient modern diesels, you'd be using about 1/6th the fuel of the wheezy gutless petrols you have now.

Re:Problem in the math (2, Funny)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543027)

Except it's not petrol, it's diesel. If you were running nice fuel-efficient modern diesels, you'd be using about 1/6th the fuel of the wheezy gutless petrols you have now.

Dude! Where can I get these diesel engines with 6 times the fuel economy of my gasoline car? (By the way, my car gets about 36 mpg - gasoline - on the highway...)


...Seriously...

Re:Problem in the math (2, Insightful)

h2_plus_O (976551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542813)

Yes, but it's much better than anything we're doing right now in the realm of biofuel generation.

I think the point here is not that any one strategy will solve everything- as you note, it won't. That's no reason to shoot down something better than what we've got.

Re:Just use hemp. (3, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542633)

The nations need to get their collective heads out of their collective asses and see what a Good Thing(TM) hemp is (and I'm not even talking about it's psychoactive properties). Hemp could solve so many environmental/economical/jocular problems it's ridiculous to regulate it so heavily.

"Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!" - The Writings of George Washington (1794)

Re:Just use hemp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542709)

Using hemp as a fuel source would only further contribute to the growing problem of deforestation, something its proponents conveniently ignore.

Re:Just use hemp. (5, Insightful)

h2_plus_O (976551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543167)

Using hemp as a fuel source would only further contribute to the growing problem of deforestation, something its proponents conveniently ignore.
Not necessarily. Hemp farmed for fuel could, once it's been processed for oil, be used as a source of fiber- which is one of the primary reasons we cut down trees today. Why would anybody clear-cut forests if hemp fiber was cheaper?
Hemp makes better paper with fewer chemical processes than wood pulp. It makes an outstanding fabric, and has been demonstrated to produce excellent building material- and it grows much faster than trees. It's a damn shame we've outlawed it.

Re:Just use hemp. (4, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542845)

A hectare (2.47 acres) of jatropha produces 1,892 liters (500 gallons) of fuel. 202 gallons per acre.

Hemp seed yields 15 gallons per acre.

As much as I think hemp is a valuable crop - which it certainly is - the jatropha seems like a better choice for biofuel production. Over 12 times better, in fact.
=Smidge=

Re:Just use hemp. (2, Interesting)

jtroutman (121577) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542971)

Where did you get your figures? I ask because I'd be interested in reading more. What is the cultivation rate? Is that 202 gallons per acre per year? Per season?

Hemp isn't that useful (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543169)

Funny how the hemp promoters are uninterested in other coarse-fiber crops, like jute, sisal, kenaf, and manila. Or in other low-cost sources of cellulose, like straw, bagasse (sugar cane after sugar extraction), and similar agricultural waste. No, somehow they're attracted only to hemp.

Re:Just use hemp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542913)

While the 'conspiracy versus hemp, the wondrous plant that could solve all food, clothing, energy and materials needs' prophecy is interesting and entertaining, it fails to take into account the enormous number of countries where industrial hemp is perfectly legal to grow in large quantities yet fails to be adopted.

To put it this way, when Kim Jong-il does not clothe his masses in hemp, make them eat hemp cakes and drive his jet skis on hemp fuel, the reason is probably not that he is a CIA operative or bribed by the cotton industry.

Re:Just use hemp. (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543193)

It is a very good biomass source, it grows just about everywhere.

It's a terrible fuel crop, yeilding far less biodiesel than many more popular options like soy. It's better than corn, but corn is a terrible biofuel crop.

Your reasons for pushing Hemp surely have nothing at all to do with it's biofuel properties.

Poor farmers (2, Funny)

Descalzo (898339) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542461)

Poor farmers living close to the equator are planting jatropha on millions of acres spurred on by big oil companies like British Petroleum that are investing in jatropha cultivation."
How dare they exploit the poor farmers like this?

Plus, this takes important jobs away from corn farmers in the USA.

Re:Poor farmers (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542523)

Just wait 'till someone like the evil Monsanto figures out a way to genetically modify this weed to either boost the oil contents even further, or make it capable of growing in Antarctica, or both... Then we will get the showdown...

Re:Poor farmers (1)

Socguy (933973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542923)

Only if they install a terminator gene so seeds cannot be used year after year without paying a licensing fee to Monsanto; Or if they engineer it to only grow with the aid of Monsanto brand fertilizer or herbicide.

Re:Poor farmers (1, Troll)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543009)

And what would be wrong with either of those two steps? Nobody is forced to use Monsanto's products, right?..

BTW, the "terminator" gene may, actually, be viewed as an assurance against the modified plants "escaping" into the wild — a concern commonly voiced by the opponents of the (modern) genetic modifications.

Re:Poor farmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542553)

How dare they exploit the poor farmers like this?

Easy, just say "hey wow! look at all the money you can make growing this instead of food!" and then once the farmers have ripped out all their food crops to grow this, say "lol! just kidding!" and pay them a tiny fraction of what they were originally promoting. Instant cheap biomass!

Re:Poor farmers (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542671)

Easy, just say "hey wow! look at all the money you can make growing this instead of food!" and then once the farmers have ripped out all their food crops to grow this, say "lol! just kidding!" and pay them a tiny fraction of what they were originally promoting. Instant cheap biomass!


And worse, they become less self-sufficient and have to import all their food.

Done and done. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543279)

And worse, they become less self-sufficient and have to import all their food.
Food aid programs already guarantee this in many parts of Africa. When you stop people from starving by importing food, you've created a 'customer' for life.

Re:Poor farmers (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542561)

Yeah, you joke. That's exactly how the politicians will spin it.
 

Re:Poor farmers (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543095)

It does not actually.

IIRC Americans are yet to hear about this wondrous thing invented by a German a while ago and perfected by French, German and Japanese (in that particular order).

It is called diesel. It can run on nearly any sh**t starting from use oil from McDonalds and finishing with low grade heating oil and jet fuel. Including jatropha oil.

One thing it cannot run on is ethanol. So the corn farmers in the USA are safe unless the USA market diseasel car engine share start approaching that in other countries. AFAIK it is 70%+ in France and 40-50% in the rest of EU.

Sounds similar (4, Interesting)

jtroutman (121577) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542479)

This sounds like what they are doing [newscientist.com] in more arid regions with Jojoba [wikipedia.org] , which is similar in that is grows in places other plants won't, requires little water and produces an oil that can power diesel engines.

This could be a problem... (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542487)

This is a noxious fast-growing weed, apparently kept in check in its native environment due to the fact that the soil and weather conditions there are terrible for growing anything. However, TFA mentions that various companies are looking at planting this thing all over the place, including areas that have good soil and growth-friendly climates.

So what happens when we start planting this thing everywhere? Could this turn into the next kudzu?

Triffids (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542627)

I for one am welcomming r new John Wynham ispired overlouds!

Re:This could be a problem... (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542661)

Can you use Kudzu for anything beyond ground cover?

Re:This could be a problem... (1)

jtroutman (121577) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542809)

The roots can be ground to use as a thickener in soups and stews, the young leaves can be used like any other greens, and the flowers can be used to make jelly. Additionally, it can be processed into soap, lotion, paper, and cloth. It helps fight erosion and can also be used for animal feed.

Re:This could be a problem... (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542823)

Theoretically it could be used for animal feed...That's part of how it was originally pitched to farmers in the South, that their cows would eat it. Well, they may nibble the leaves, but that's about it.

Goats, on the other hand, go to fricking TOWN on the stuff...They'll eat it right down to the roots, and can actually permanently clear kudzu from an area making them and napalm the best methods for getting rid of it. Considering how much goats eat, the two could form a hell of a relationship, assuming we could persuade anyone in this country to eat goat.

Goat is del-licious, mon. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543137)

Seeriously, mon.

ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20543015)

animal feed, paper, you can make wine from the flowers and so far there is some good research on making a medicine from it that could possibly be used as a near cure for alcoholism and perhaps some other addictions. That comes from noticing from oriental medicine it was used for that, so some scientists looked into it and found some active ingredient in it that does seem to work, but I don't know if it is on the market yet or not. I do know the huge roots can be sold if they are clean and pure to oriental doctors sometimes. And seeing as how it is cellulose rich and grows like crazy, once we have good enough engineered yeasts to make cheap cellulosic ethanol, it could be used for that as well.

The energy solution silver bullet is "all of the above", there isn't one single tech that will do it all, but the combination of what we have now can be made to work, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, other hydropower, biofuels, etc. If we work just as hard at reducing demand by building more efficient devices and buildings and vehicles, then keep adding to the production mix from diverse sources, we can do it, we can finally break the back of the traditional dirty energy monopolies, and have cleaner, cheaper and more decentralized power. this jatropha is just another arrow in our energy quiver really, all are welcome. I appreciate that poorer folks all over the planet can now maybe have a chance at some sort of income, modest as it might be, instead of dumping cash by the truckload to already rich as snot radical oil-rich muslims or radical western capitalist pigs like exxon, etc. Those people take the cash and do "bad stuff" with it. Every buck they DON'T get and some poor farmers and new alternate energy companies get is a buck much better spent than going to the traditional military/industrial complex/war mongers.

Re:This could be a problem... (1)

gregoryb (306233) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543121)

Unwanted car removal. Plant it in your front yard and in about 3 days flat all those old cars you have on blocks will completely disappear!

Re:This could be a problem... (1)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542729)

I was thinking the same thing. Could this be the next Chinese Sumac? [davesgarden.com]

Re:This could be a problem... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542835)

So what happens when we start planting this thing everywhere?

I for one, would just welcome our new, fast growing, poisonous weedy overlords.

It's easier that way, besides I hate yardwork.

Re:This could be a problem... (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542907)

I don't know, but these folks [jatrophaworld.org] seem determined to spread it nonetheless.

Huh. (0)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542503)

I think I've got this stuff growing on my back fence. (No, really!) (Disclosure: I live in Florida).

It seems like almost any plant oil could be used to make biodiesel, but this stuff does grow like a weed, even in sandy soil and drought conditions (both of which are present in my backyard). That's what would make it economically viable.

Although, the fact that it does grow like a weed, means it still pulls out a lot of nutrients from the soil, which would make it hard to grow anything else on the same land. OTOH, it grows where other things already don't grow, so that's definitely a plus from an environmental point of view.

Oh, and if BP or anyone else wants to pay me to grow more, let me know!

Re:Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542593)


Although, the fact that it does grow like a weed, means it still pulls out a lot of nutrients from the soil, which would make it hard to grow anything else on the same land.


I wonder if you read the FA:

But jatropha can grow on virtually barren land with relatively little rainfall, so it can be planted in places where food does not grow well. It can also be planted beside other crops farmers grow here, like millet, peanuts and beans, without substantially reducing the yield of the fields; it may even help improve output of food crops by, among other things, preventing erosion and keeping animals out.

Re:Huh. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542987)

Weeds don't tend to deplete the soil...Ecologically, they're the equivalents of platelets or anti-bodies...When the soil is damaged or depleted, the weeds move in. Jatropha is cited a few times as "fertilizing the soil" and the seed cakes formed after the oils are extracted are several times referred to as a good fertilizer, but there are no specifics on the method in which it does this.

The traditional use of this stuff is to plant as fence rows around edible crops to keep grazing animals away, so it can't be that bad for the soil. The companies that are seeking to increase the production are asking farmers to intersperse the stuff with their regular food crops, which is the way we do peanuts, another soil rejuvenating plant.

I am more impressed... (3, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542511)

with BP every day. They are the only major oil company to seem to "get" that oil won't last forever. They have invested money into solar technologies (walk into Home Depot), lowered their own emissions requirements to meet standards that don't even exist yet, and now are shown to be investing heavily into alternative "bio" fuels. Exxon and the like seem content to just pulling oil from the ground and putting it into pumps.

Just a simple thought. They are still an "evil oil company" thus far as I can see... but at least they have vision for the future and aren't thinking oil will last forever as the Bush administration thinks it will.

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542619)

They are still an "evil oil company" thus far as I can see...
They re-branded themselves as an energy company a couple of years ago.

 

Re:I am more impressed... (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542645)

It is nice on the surface.

OTOH, it makes perfect sense that an energy company wants to maintain their dominance even after their original product (petroleum) runs out. Now if BP is busily publishing their research results on all of the alternate energies, cool... but if they're keeping it a secret (or at least hard-to-get), then it's merely a matter of going from being a dominant force in one segment of the energy industry towards being a dominant force in the others, before the rest realize what's up and tries to muscle in on its new-found turf.

Now if BP was busily passing knowledge of its research along openly (a'la FOSS), then props to 'em. Otherwise they're not much more in my eyes than, say, MSFT adapting their products to run in some new technology with a lot of growth potential.

/P

Re:I am more impressed... (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543011)

Belief in exclusivity is what drives business, and innovation. Giving something away just lowers the apparent value.

 

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542647)

BP just realizes that there's tons of good PR to be made from appeasing to the "greenie weenie" demographic (you know, the ones that pat themselves on the back for buying over-priced pesticide-free terrycloth bathrobes from catalogs like Gaiam [gaiam.com] ). I doubt that any of the oil producers are truly interested in any of these alternative oil sources, unless they plan on patenting them to get a piece of the pie.

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542701)

According to my sister-in-law (who works for a large oil company), Exxon is the only one that isn't looking into alternative energy sources like solar, wind, and biofuel. Exxon seems to take the strategy of waiting to see what works and then buying whoever figured it out.

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542879)

Exxon seems to take the strategy of waiting to see what works and then buying whoever figured it out.

Why does this seem vaguely familiar? Can anyone help me with this? Twitter? Erris?

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543233)

Not to mention the phone companies buying up the internet.

1. Innovate
2. Build and Market
3. Sellout to the Oligopoly
4. Party Like a Billionaire

Well, that's why their tagline is... (2, Interesting)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542773)

..."beyond petroleum". But then again, this is the same BP that just lost HUGE in the court of public opinion when everyone in Chicago started complaining about the fact that they wanted to dump more pollutants into Lake Michigan [autobloggreen.com] . Hell, even Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam called attention to it [autobloggreen.com] at Lollapalooza.

Frankly, I'm not impressed with BP. This big bad oil company is doing nothing more than chasing the $$$. You'd better believe that if oil prices dropped, they wouldn't hesitate to cancel these programs... Being environmentally conscious is money-making--for the time-being...

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542803)

Exxon and the like seem content to just pulling oil from the ground and putting it into pumps.

**makes mental note to invest in Exxon**

Great (1)

hotsauce (514237) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542819)

...the New York Times reports that jatropha may replace biofuels like ethanol that require large amounts of water, fertilizer, and energy, making their environmental benefits limited.

Great. Does it also require so few farmers and so little arable land that it has no effect on the production of food crop? Or will it push up the prices of food significantly in poor countries, as other biofuel crops have done?

Re:Great (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543253)

From TFA;

"Jatropha oil is vegetable oil produced from the seeds of the Jatropha curcas, a plant that can grow in wastelands. Jatropha curcas grows almost anywhere, even on gravelly, sandy and saline soils. It can thrive on the poorest stony soil and grow in the crevices of rocks."

(From Wikipedia article on Jatropha oil [wikipedia.org] )
=Smidge=

Re:I am more impressed... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542957)

They are the only major oil company to seem to "get" that oil won't last forever.

Yeah, none of the others have checked the energy futures market. (?)

Presidential Executive Memo To Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542535)


Not in my U.S.A. Remember, you have no rights.

PatRIOTically,
George W. Bush [whitehouse.org]

Nut pressing (4, Funny)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542539)

"nutrient-rich seed cake left after oil is pressed from its nuts"

Anybody else cross their legs and cringe when reading this?

Re:Nut pressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542631)

>Anybody else cross their legs and cringe when reading this?

no just you... perv

Re:Nut pressing (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542771)

Anybody else cross their legs and cringe when reading this?
No cringing here. Cool, I didn't read the article and yet still found a way to post.

Re:Nut pressing (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542917)

Cool, I didn't read the article and yet still found a way to post.
You must be new here. Reading TFA has never been a requirement for posting.

Layne

Contradiction? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542551)

Jatropha is a poisonous weed, yet it cures constipation? In the same way hemlock would cure constipation?

Re:Contradiction? (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542727)

Last words of Socrates: "I drank what?"

Re:Contradiction? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543093)

In the same way deadly nightshade (belladonna) is used to cure nerve gas poisoning [wikipedia.org] .

If only... (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542557)

If only they could find a way to make fuel out of kudzu. Anyone driving through the south could just pull over and refuel.

Re:If only... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542603)

Anyone driving through the south could just pull over and refuel.

You can if your car is a horse.

Re:If only... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542777)

Kudzu was the answer to Deep South ground cover the way rabbits were the answer to Australian meat farming. As to bio fuel, Brazil has been running a gasohol program for decades. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil [wikipedia.org] Amazing what you can do when you are motivated..

Re:If only... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542867)

Nah, we're too busy using kudzu root extract to make it seem like you've had three beers when you've only had one.

Re:If only bindweed had a use... (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542935)

Out west we have bindweed. It seems to grow best where I don't water. It's invasive and omnipresent, but at least it isn't poisonous, doesn't have thorns, and doesn't stink. On the other hand, it serves no useful purpose, gets in the way and ties up the other plants .... on the whole, kinda like Condoleeza Rice.

Re:If only... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542945)

Burn it. External Combustion Engine to power a generator.

 

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542563)

"No fertilizer beyond the nutrient-rich seed cake left after oil is pressed from its nuts."

I suppose that would be the case with most things.

it'll make you laugh and cry (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542569)

the article I mean

Jatropha requires no pesticides, little water other than rain and no fertilizer beyond the nutrient-rich seed cake left after oil is pressed from its nuts.


That part made me laugh, cry and cringe

Damn.... (0, Offtopic)

8127972 (73495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542591)

..... When I saw the title, I thought the poster was talking about a really good grade of pot.

Infinite miles to the ounce with *that* fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20543059)

Actually, man, the car doesn't move.

It'll never happen in the U.S ... (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542613)

Too many billions in subsidies going into the maw of ethanol production.

Re:It'll never happen in the U.S ... (1, Troll)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542947)

Environmentalists have been shrieking and crying about government funding for alternative fuels, and now that we've rushed to pacify them, we discover it's not such a great investment afterall.

Well that's what tends to happen when energy policy is influenced by knee-jerk alarmists.

Re:It'll never happen in the U.S ... (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543201)

Environmentalists have been shrieking and crying about government funding for alternative fuels, and now that we've rushed to pacify them, we discover it's not such a great investment afterall.

Well that's what tends to happen when energy policy is influenced by knee-jerk alarmists.
No, this is what happens when you let big business co-opt a public desire for change and turn it into another money-making scam. People want real alternative fuels, not smoke and mirrors like ethanol. But oh, doing that would actually cost money and eat into profits. Can't have that.

All of North America under this weed? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542617)

Hmm, some quick calculations showed that if we plant all of North America with this weed exclusively, then we will get almost enough oil to sustain the current consumption. Maybe if we add all of Europe too... Quick, bring the bulldozers so we can start plowing up all these pesky cities and farms that are cluttering up the place!

Re:All of North America under this weed? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542681)

Well, you could also switch from a form of transport which is 12% efficient to something better.
 

That new car smell (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542643)

The new weed burning cars will be available is many, many, many different colors.

So many colors...

Wait... what?

Are we so much different? (0)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542665)

I think I have a lot in common with that plant. I too give off nutrient-rich seed left after oil is pressed from my nuts.

Re:Are we so much different? (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543055)

(Wagging head) Testosterone poisoning...

Yeah but... (1, Redundant)

Karem Lore (649920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542723)

Can you smoke it?

Not cost effective (2, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542759)

According to the article, the price of fuel derived from this will be in excess of $1/liter, or about $4/gallon. That's more that diesel is now. Something will have to change for this to be profitable.

Re:Not cost effective (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543045)

Yeah, cos the price of Diesel will only go down in the future.
 

Re:Not cost effective (1)

M1m3R (1854) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543225)

my thoughts exactly. and let's not forget that a move toward less dependence on oil...black gold...saudi tea...would probably be a good thing.

OT: low sids unite.

What the article fails to mention... (2, Funny)

Jonboy X (319895) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542765)

"Jatropha, an ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed that has been used as a remedy for constipation..."
What the article fails to mention is the the "refinement" of this fuel source includes feeding it to the poor farmers, attaching a collection bag and waiting 12-24 hours to harvest the resultant natural gas.

Incineration (3, Insightful)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542769)

I'm at a loss as to why incineration isn't being touted as the next wave of energy production. I suppose the common man doesn't understand that the fuel stock doesn't greatly matter or differ when it comes out of the stack, provided the usual pollution control devices.


You're going to have nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), and depending on the fuel & control devices used, varying levels of particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). You're going to get this whether you burn the horribly-connoted "coal" or the relatively-benignly-connoted "wood". Plant matter, like that specified in TFA, isn't all that different from "wood", and actually used to be lumped together in the "biomass" definition until the US Supreme Court vacated the appropriate legislation set forth by the EPA.


Point being... all of this is the generation of additional waste stream for fuel, instead of utilizing an existing waste stream for fuel. I applaud the thought and intent, but why not use the garbage we already generate for fuel? RDF (refuse-derived fuel) boilers already exist for electrical generation...

Re:Incineration (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543083)

Mainly because the external combustion engine fell out of favour for trains and was barely introduced for cars. I'd be interested in seeing someone stoking a plane, though.

And if BP changes it's mind? (2, Insightful)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542791)

If BP changes it's corporate directive, or the Jatropha plant isn't the great biomass solution it's touted to be, then we have millions of acres planted with "ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed" which is "resilient to pests and resistant to drought". Oh, great. While we're at it, let's introduce rabbits like they did into Australia [wikipedia.org] , and kudzu like in the Southern US [wikipedia.org] . Don't get me started on Zebra mussles or sea lampreys in the Great Lakes. Ok, so there's not much in the way of swampland in central Africa, but the point is that Really Bad Things happen wherever mankind does something that drastically alters the native environment. I wonder if global warming and increased CO2 will help the plant grow faster and more obnoxious?

Seeds? What about the whole plant? (5, Interesting)

jlcooke (50413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542805)

Allow me to be crack-pot.

This is old news, like 20 years old. Mainstream old, it's more like 5 years. Still old.

Real biofuel folk know that Algae is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

J-plant's seeds are 40% oil. Some breeds of Algae are 50% oil by TOTAL PLANT MASS.

Not to mention it's the fastest growing plant - faster than bamboo.

Not to mention it's the easiest thing to grow (water, dirt, shit, sunlight). Just think about how much work people go through to keep it out of a chlorinated pool. What would happen if actually tried to grow it?

Not to mention you don't need arable land to grow algae - desert works exceptionally well. Beside a nuclear (pr. new-clear) power plant will let you use waste heat to keep the green stuff growing all winter as well.

Industrial algae production, 100's of hectares of 1m deep concrete pools and greenhouses. Constantly skimming fractions of the population allowing re-growth. We're talking constant production, no expensive equipment to harvest.

The man doesn't want you to know.

Now both you and your car can smoke week together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542903)

But will we see more erratic driving? It was the cars fault officer.... honest.

Exxon Mobil (1)

SilverBlade2k (1005695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542915)

I bet Exxon Mobil will try to buy this out..

Poisonous? (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542941)

IANAB (I am not a botanist), but I know that you can get quite sick burning things like poison ivy, poison oak, and so on -- you can inhale the irritants and basically end up with poison ivy in your windpipe and lungs. So I'd be curious as to exactly HOW this stuff is poisonous -- if its natural oils are irritants like the ones I mention above, I wonder what you'd have to do to extract all that poison before putting it in a combustion engine and, well, combusting it.

Or if the constipation cure would be the worst result of the exhaust, you'd have a whole lot of motorists driving very dangerously in a hurry to get home ...

Car rolling a fatty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20542953)

Did anybody else get the image of a car lighting up a big ol' fatty when they read about cars fueled by "wonder weed"? :)

Instead of poppies... (1)

DriveDog (822962) | more than 6 years ago | (#20542989)

Afghans could grow this... of course, this wouldn't make the West energy-independent.

Some numbers for comparison. (5, Informative)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543007)

Lex Worrall, chief executive of Helius Energy, claims Jatropha can produce 2.7 tonnes of oil per hectare. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article2155351.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

For comparison, corn produces about 0.15 tonnes per hectare, hemp about 0.30 tonnes, and canola (rapeseed) only 1.0 tonnes.
So if he's right, it's a very good oil producer, on the order of much harder to grow oil producers like avocado (2.2) or coconut (2.3).

Still 1/5 of algae though.

-- Should you believe authority without question?

Ob (2, Funny)

Edie O'Teditor (805662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543077)

an ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed that has been used as a remedy for constipation
What a pity it wasn't posted by Roland Piquepaille.

Has anyone considered Kudzu for this? (1)

jivosnicanpisados (851144) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543107)

I thought this plant may be a relative of that Deep South vine that is rumored to grow a meter a day: Kudzu

New Wonder: Weed to Fuel Cars! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#20543131)

Punctuation can make stories so much more fun.
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