I had briefly touched upon the possibility of having castor oil as a feedstock for biodiesel in my earlier post. I will expand on this theme a bit more in this post.
While castor oil is unlikely to be a significant contributor to the biodiesel industry in the next 3-5 years owing to its high cost and low production volumes, in specific cases and regions it could play a limited role as a biodiesel feedstock. This blog summarizes some of the initiatives that are being taken in order to explore the viability of castor oil as a biodiesel feedstock.
- In January 2012, Israel-based plant breeding company, Evogene Ltd (www.evogene.com)., launched a wholly owned subsidiary, Evofuel Ltd., to accelerate the development and commercialization of castor bean varieties in Brazil for biodiesel and biojet fuel production. Evofuel, then entered into an a collaboration with T6 industrial to develop castor bean varieties and evaluate them under rain fed conditions as an effective drought tolerant and oil yielding crop in Argentina. Earlier, in 2010, Evogene Ltd. conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of biodiesel production from castor bean varieties. Results showed that Evogene’s castor bean biodiesel
- Reduces net GHG emissions by 90% in the U.S. and more than 75% in Brazil compared with conventional diesel, if grown in non-arable or marginal land.
- Exceeds the GHG savings achieved with soybean biodiesel, with reductions for the U.S. of 43% compared to soybean.
- The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (www.pcj.com) along with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI, www.cardi.org ) launched a pilot project in 2011 to trial biodiesel production from castor oil and Jatropha. The research and development phase of the project will involve the cultivation and harvesting of six varieties of the oil nuts, to determine their oil content, harvesting potential and relative productivity. The oil nuts will be cultivated on mined-out bauxite lands between April, 2011 and March, 2014.