Jatropha Curcas – economic, renewable and CO2 neural
Jatropha Curcas is a plant, domestic in the tropics, and has been known in many areas of Africa and Asia for several hundred years. Since the nuts and leaves are inedible both for human beings and animals, the plant serves traditionally for fencing fields, where other fruits are cultivated. No one had ever thought of using the oil as engine fuel. Until about 25 years ago the German Development Cooperation in Mali began tests for gaining fuel, and they find out that the Jatropha oil can be used with some restrictions in a modified diesel engine without further chemical processing. However, it was not possible to market Jatropha oil as an alternative to mineral oil and thus to help the farmers to get a further income since the prices for diesel were very low in the 1980s. Cultivating Jatropha for the production of oil would not have been profitable.
In contrast to the 1980s, the economic conditions for the cultivation of the Jatropha plant changed in 2006. The price for a litre of diesel was 1,02 € in Mbinga / South Tansania. The cultivation of Jatropha can therefore provide a further income for Africa’s and Asia’s farmers. A prerequisite for profitability is having a process which is as effective as possible for gaining the oil and limiting the distance which the fuel has to be transported to the consumer.
Sustainable and CO2-neutral
Global warming is no longer considered a seasonal fluctuation but a central threat to the world’s climate caused by high CO2 emission. The consequences of global warming are already perceptible in the increasing number of hurricanes, the melt of frosted hilltops and the spreading of deserts.
The cultivation of Jatropha Curcas plants counteracts the effect of the global warming since the plant absorbes exactly the same amount of CO2 gas during its growth that is produced while running the engine.
The research farm Kakute Ltd. in Arusha in Northern Tanzania at the Kenyan border helpfully assisting us with our activities in cultivating Jatropha. They have devoted themselves to the cultivation and use of Jatropha plants and have determined the optimal distance between the seedlings as well as the water demand during the different periods of growth. The plant also grows on poor soil which is no longer appropriate for the cultivation of maize and other crop plants. This so-called sleeping land is available on a larger scale than the actual high-value farmland. In addition to the different Kakute farms near Arusha and Moshi, which have already yield a reliable crop, further Jatropha fields and hedges have been cultivated in different heights and on different grounds by our mainly ecclesiastical partners within the framework of the project “Power from pure plant oil” since 2003:
- Mbinga / Songea 20,000 trees
- Pilipili / Songea 6,000 trees
- Ligano / Songea 2,000 trees
- Ifakara / Songea 8,000 trees
- Mabama / Kigoma 15,000 trees
Depending on the soil and climatic conditions, 2 to 4 tons of the oil-containing nuts can be harvested annually per hectare when a distance of 2.5 m is respected. 400 to 700 l of high-quality pure plant oil can be gained via pressing through a manual or motor press.