Tuesday, June 16, 2009

[PBN] Jatropha Requires Huge Amounts of Water

From: Technology Review - 13/06/2009
The Jatropha shrub, which grows wild all over New Zealand
Researchers from the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, report in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that jatropha requires five times as much water per unit of energy as sugarcane and corn, and nearly ten times as much as sugar beet–the most water-efficient biofuel crop, according to the same study.
In 2007, the oil-industry heavyweight BP teamed up with British biofuels company D1 Oils on a five-year, £80 million project to cultivate the plant in India, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa. Together, the companies have planted more than 200,000 hectares so far. And the plant made headlines again late last year, when it became the first non-food-based biofuel to power a jet engine. But mounting evidence suggests that jatropha is not as ideal as once thought.
"The claim that jatropha doesn't compete for water and land with food crops is complete nonsense," says study coauthor Arjen Hoekstra. The researcher says it's true that the plant can grow with little water and can survive through periods of drought, but to flourish, it needs good growing conditions just like any other plant. "If there isn't sufficient water, you get a low amount of oil production," Hoekstra says.

How disappointing. Jatropha seemed like a great solution to the controversy over biofuels displacing food crops, but it's certainly not a sustainable source of energy if it requires that much water. Luckily, there are hundreds of researchers working on a wide array of potentially viable biofuels, so this discovery doesn't set the industry back too much.

Source: http://earthfirst.com/biofuel-fail-jatropha-requires-huge-amounts-of-water/


Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts: http://pacbiofuel.blogspot.com/


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