RIL enters bio-diesel farming
August 23, 2005 -
Reliance Industries Ltd is planning to enter the bio-fuel segment in a big way. To begin with, the company has earmarked 200 acres of land at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to cultivate jatropha, which can yield high quality bio-diesel.
The area of cultivation will be increased to many thousands of acres depending on the progress of the project.
The project is being implemented by Reliance Life Sciences, a subsidiary of RIL. Jatropha has got global recognition as a high-quality bio-diesel crop.
It is a perennial crop that can be grown in arid regions. The oil extracted from the Jatropha seed has the same characteristics as diesel and can be used "neat" or mixed with conventional diesel in even the most sophisticated internal combustion diesel engines.
Reliance is in consultation with the Bhavnagar-based Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute for getting the right crop to grow and for fuel extraction technology.
Several smaller Indian companies are already working towards developing bio-diesel. Companies like Nandan Bioagro and Labland Biotech have tied up with British oil company DI Oils to produce jatropha and trade in it.
The company will encourage hundreds of farmers to cultivate the crop under an arrangement with the company. Reliance Life Sciences will supply the know-how, saplings and fertilisers for farmers to cultivate the crop.
The company is looking at the option of making bio-diesel out of jatropha seeds and trading the fuel along with conventional diesel, which the company specialises in.
An e-mail sent to the company on Friday did not elicit any response.
CSMCRI is the only institute in the country that has pioneered the growing of jatropha in India. The institute has also devised technologies to extract fuel from the jatropha seed.
Last month, DaimlerChrysler, along with CSMCRI, successfully tested the latter's "neat" bio-diesel on three Mercedes-Benzes on the hostile terrains of the Himalayas.
The results of this successful high-altitude road test will further help in fine-tuning the fuel characteristics of jatropha bio-diesel.
"Jatropha diesel has the potential to be a substitute for fossil petrol and diesel. Right now, technology is being evolved to get the best seeds and generate maximum quality bio-diesel from a minimum number of seeds. Companies like DaimlerChrysler are working hard to make auto engines adapt better to the new diesel. In another five years, we will see a major shift to bio-diesel from the conventional diesel," said a senior CSMCRI scientist.
A jatropha seed contains 31 to 37 per cent extractable oil. A jatropha plantation over 100,000 hectares is expected to yield 250,000-300,000 tonnes of crude jatropha oil per annum. It is estimated that an initial 100,000-hectare jatropha farm will yield revenues of $100 million per annum.
A plantation of 100,000 hectares of jatropha is expected to yield
250,000-300,000 tonnes of crude jatropha oil per annum
The initial 100,000 hectare jatropha farm may yield revenues of $100 mn a year