Crude Jatropha Oil for Engines, Power Generation & Other Key Applications

August 20, 2008 | 1 Comment

Besides processing into biodiesel, Jatropha oil also has proven itself to be a viable source of fuel for power generation and heating applications.

In fact, many of the delegates we met at JatrophaWorld Jakarta and Miami had many examples to share about small scale Jatropha power generation plants for rural electrification projects in India & Africa.

Jatropha Oil for Small Scale Power Generation Projects
Many NGOs have Jatropha projects involving some of the poorest villages in Asia and Africa, and getting these poor farmers to plant Jatropha. With this, the village can become entirely energy self sufficient due to the multiple applications of Jatropha oil and by products.

One small scale Jatropha based power project we’ve heard of is the one being run by Winrock International in the Kabir Dham district in Chattisgarh, INDIA, which is already providing 24-hour power supply at the very affordable price of 50 cents per light bulb to poor villagers.

The 17.5 KW capacity power plant, which runs on raw oil produced from jatropha seeds, has been supplying electricity to the villagers since it became operational in April last year. Over 106 households in the area, which previously had no access to electricity, have already been ‘illuminated’ by this innovative power generation project.

The project in Chattisgarh represents Jatropha’s very critical role in rural development, and there other such projects scattered all over Asia & Africa in the Jatropha growing regions. Due to these initiatives, many of the worlds’ poorest will have the chance to get access to electricity for the first time in their life!

Is it Feasible to Use Crude Jatropha Oil for Large-Scale Power Generation?
Belgiuan sustainable energy developer Thenergo seems to think so. Thenergo have commissioned Wartsila to build the world’s first combined heat and power (CHP) plant that will run on jatropha oil.
The project, named Greenpower, is situated in the agricultural area Merksplas (Belgium) and is expected to become operational in February 2009. The plant will generate 6MWth of heat for two industrial partners, and 9MWe of electricity for the equivalent of 20,000 households.

The use of Jatropha oil in power generation and as heating fuel brings the industry a step towards the widespread commercialization of Jatropha, one of the very few ‘Biofuels’ that does not compete with food crops.

According to Wartsila spokesperson Ronald Westerdijk, “Jatropha oil is a liquid biofuel that has great potential since jatropha can also be harvested outside the world’s rainforest areas, even near deserts.”

Using Pure Jatropha Oil in Diesel Engines
Pure Jatropha Oil can be successfully used as a diesel replacement in stationary engines such as water pumps, as well as modified diesel engines for transportation including tractors and vehicles.

There are certain types of diesel engines that require only the addition of a fuel filter to run on pure Jatropha oil, thus eliminating the need of the more expensive blended biodiesel option.

In addition to this, Pure Jatropha Oil also performs better as a fuel due to its higher oxygen content, and has lubricating qualities.

The use of pure Jatropha oil as a transportation fuel makes it more affordable and viable, not to mention environmentally friendly than blended biodiesel.

Other Uses for Jatropha Oil
As a tool for rural development, Jatropha oil does play an important role in generating income and increasing the overall quality of life for communities involved in Jatropha cultivation.

In fact, one of the most critical uses for Jatropha oil is in cooking!

To people grappling with poverty, the price of kerosene or cooking fuel might be prohibitive. The availability of Jatropha Oil in this respect becomes a viable alternative to kerosene
Bosch & Siemens Home Appliances Group (BSH) has recently developed a stove “Protos”, which can successfully burn Kerosene and Jatropha Oil as fuel. In fact, BSH is pushing for the use of Jatropha oil, which is significantly cheaper and environmentally friendly.

More critically, a stove operated on Jatropha oil offers a much safer cooking environment because Jatropha oil is not very flammable and it cannot explode, two of the major concerns regarding kerosene. In rural communities where building materials are often plant based and highly flammable, a safe cooking environment is critical.

Additionally, the more efficient burning of Jatropha oil means that cooking time will be significantly less for the Jatropha stove, thus saving on valuable cooking fuel.

Jatropha’s Capacities in Power Generation, Diesel Engines, Heating and Cooking Covered at JatrophaWorld Hamburg 2008
With Jatropha rising to meet the electricity demands of the developing and the developed world, this application of Jatropha has tremendous potential to become a major revenue generator for Jatropha producers and project developers.

And at JatrophaWorld Hamburg 2008, we’re committed towards informing the community about Jatropha’s tremendous potential as a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of Biofuel.

That’s why we are proud to announce Wartsila as one of the newest additions to our panel of experts. Speaking on their CHP project, Wartsila will be sharing insights on alternative uses for Jatropha oil for heating and power generation.

We are also happy to share that Bosch & Siemens Home Applicances Group (BSH) is on our panel sharing more information on their revolutionary Jatropha oil cooking stove.
You can also hear from Cleanstar Ventures, a Jatropha project developer, on their first hand experience with using Pure Jatropha Oil in diesel engines and micro generators.

So what are you waiting for? Register for JatrophaWorld Hamburg 2008 today at

We look forward to meeting you in Hamburg in October.