5 Low-cost Biofuels


Much attention has been given to the seeds of a poisonous weedy shrub, jatropha, as a potential feedstock, particularly in India and Africa. Because it's not edible, jatropha used for fuel doesn't compete with its use as a food crop -- a frequently cited concern with many biofuel sources. The jatropha plant is hardy and drought-resistant, and it grows quickly. And it's of particular interest to scientists looking for inexpensive feedstock because the seeds can contain up to 40 percent oil. These qualities all sound promising, but so far jatropha crops don't seem to be providing high enough yields, most likely because it has been planted in "marginal" soil that isn't of high enough quality [source: Johnson]. Jatropha also requires a lot of water during the growing process. So, while the plant is inexpensive, it may not be ideal for large-scale production.

Related Articles


  • Biodiesel.org. "Biodiesel Basics." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.biodiesel.org/
  • Hofstrand, Don. "Brazil's Ethanol Industry, Part Two." Iowa State University. Feb. 2009. (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/articles/hof/HofFeb09.html
  • Johnson, Keith. "BP Gives up on Jatropha for Biofuel." The Wall Street Journal. July 17, 2009. (Dec. 22, 2010).http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/07/17/bp-gives-up-on-jatropha-for-biofuel/
  • National Biodiesel Education Program, University of Idaho. "Biodiesel Basics." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/bioenergy/basics.shtml
  • National Corn Growers Association. "Ethanol and Coproducts." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://ncga.com/ethanol-coproducts
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "Learning about Renewable Energy." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_biofuels.html
  • NYTimes.com. "Biofuels." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://nytimes.com/info/biofuels
  • Renewable Fuels Association. "Ethanol Industry Statistics." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.ethanolrfa.org/pages/statistics
  • Scientific American. "Air Algae: US Biofuel Flight Relies on Weeds and Pond Scum." Jan. 7, 2009. (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=air-algae-us-biofuel-flight-on-weeds-and-pond-scum
  • The Nature Conservancy. "New Study Shows Converting Land for Biofuels May Worsen Global Warming." Feb. 7, 2008. (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/minnesota/press/press3348.html
  • U.S. Department of Energy. "Biodiesel." (Dec. 22, 2010).http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/biodiesel.shtml
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Sweet Sorghum: The Sweetest Fuel You'll Ever Taste!

Sweet Sorghum: The Sweetest Fuel You'll Ever Taste!

How much do you know about sweet sorghum? Keep reading to learn about Sweet Sorghum: The Sweetest Fuel You'll Ever Taste!