GM Jatropha hopes to break into biodiesel market [News]
By Kristie Neo, Channel NewsAsia, 14 May 2012.
A Singapore partnership has developed what it hopes to be an eco-solution to the world’s demand for biofuel.
The world’s first genetically modified Jatropha plant can produce biodiesel faster and better.
Plans are in the pipeline to start field trials and commercialise it in three years.
With genetic modification, the seeds from the Jatropha plant will contain 10 per cent more extractable oil than ordinary seeds.
Biofuel produced from this variant is also more combustible and environmentally friendly by emitting less oxides.
Its developers Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory and JOil have filed a patent for this genetically modified Jatropha.
JOil – a global player in Jatropha breeding and commercialisation – is awaiting approval from the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee of Singapore (GMAC), before conducting field trials.
When commercialised, JOil expects it to meet the global demand for Jatropha.
Sriram Srinivasan, chief financial officer of JOil, said: “If you look at the biodiesel market, the world consumes about 1.2 billion tons of diesel and we expect about five per cent of this to be replaced by Jatropha within the next 10 years. That brings the total quantity to about 16 million tons.
JOil’s non-GM Jatropha varieties so far have seen increased oil yields to 1.6 tons from less than just one ton of oil per hectare of land.
This new GM variant aims to hit three tons of oil per hectare, placing it on par with competitive biodiesels like palm oil.
But while Jatropha’s oil production potential is high, analysts have yet to be convinced about its successful commercialisation.
Ker Chung Yang, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures, said: “I think it was successful at an experimental stage but we need to understand that from an economical point of view. Whether we can produce it in a large scale will require more study and research into it.”
Still, the low cost of Jatropha oil may yet swing in its favour.
At the end of 2011, Jatropha oil was sold at about US$60 to US$65 per barrel, which is less than half the price of palm oil at US$140-US$180 per barrel.
JOil sees potential demand for Jatropha biodiesel coming from the aviation, shipping and power industry as the global demand for energy grows.
Source: Channel NewsAsia
- Demand For Biofuels Expected to Rise 20%-30% Annually [News]
- Neste Oil’s S’pore plant to market renewable diesel overseas [News]
- Neste Oil’s NExBTL Renewable Diesel Plant in Singapore to Start Operations by Year-End
- Carbon emissions hit record high last year, says IEA [News]
- Experts say certification could boost output of organic produce [News]