Integrated R&D Program on Jatropha curcas (Tubang bakod) for Biodiesel

With increasing prices of fossil fuels, the contribution of alternative sources of energy was emphasized. Among these sources is the biofuel, which comes from biomass and can be produced in agricultural and agroforestry areas. Although there are already some breakthrough in the use of coco diesel and methanol, the use of foodgrade feedstock in the processing of those biofuels limits its competitiveness to conventional fuel.Among other non-food sources, Jatropha curcas (Tubang bakod, Tuba-tuba, Kasla, Tubang aso, Tubang silangan) was identified to have the best potential with its seeds yielding up to 33 percent oil and can be esterified to produce Jatropha Methyl Ester. With the recognition of its potential, there are increasing interest in its production despite the fact that there are no available processing plant and there are less information known as to its production, processing and utilization in the country thus the Integrated R&D Program on Jatropha curcas L. for Biofuel.

The program aims to integrate research and development efforts on the utilization of Jatropha curcas for biofuel to support the development of the overall biofuel industry in the country toward energy security and cleaner environment while at the same time providing rural employment and income. The Philippine National Oil Corporation through its Alternative Fuel Corporation (PNOC-AFC) supported the following component projects by as much as PhP 15 million for July 2007-June 2008 with the preceding resources to be committed upon review and evaluation of the first year experience:

  1. Germplasm Management, Varietal Improvement and Seed Technology R & D for Physic Nut (Jatropha curcas). This include the conservation of the genetic diversity of Physic Nut (Jatropha curcas L.) through collecting, characterization, conservation and documentation of local germplasm. This will also evaluate, select, breed and propagate superior germplasm of Jatropha curcas in the Philippines for the benefit of farmers, processors, and other industry stakeholders. Protocols for seed quality testing, enhancement, storage, and asexual propagation of Jatropha curcas will be developed. A seed information kit will be developed to guide people interested in the germplasm conservation and plant propagation of Jatropha.
  2. Development of Component Technologies for Jatropha in Various Production Systems deals with development of cost-effective propagation techniques, management of fruiting and flowering, soil fertility, and pests and diseases. A mechanism will be established for early warning and response to production problems that may be encountered particularly on pest, diseases and other management aspects.
  3. Process and Equipment Development for the Production of Esterified Jatropha curcas oil particularly on the application of Enzyme biotechnology compared with the application of mechanical and solvent in the extraction and esterification of the Jatropha curcas oil. Optimization of the of esterification process, appropriate waste treatment and application of biotechnology in the processing of Jatropha press cake will also be done.

The program management and coordination is being done by the UPLB Foundation for UPLB.

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