Monday, December 20, 2010

Solving Haiti's Problem With Jatropha

In describing the problems Haiti faces in the wake of its devastating January earthquake, it's hard to know where to start. But two of the key ones that immediately come to mind are 1). food security and the 2). country's rampant record of environmental degradation. (To date, Haitians have cut through more than 90% of its forest to generate charcoal for food preparation.)

Both are urgent priorities for both donors and the Haitian government alike. But what if you could solve both problems at once?

Gael Pressoir, a geneticist and former researcher at Cornell University, says it's possible. Pressoir has been exploring the use of a plant that can be transformed not only into food, but fuel. The plant, called jatropha, is already being used in African countries. Likewise, an edible kind of jatropha is grown by indigenous communities in Mexico.

Pressoir believes it the plant can be grown in Haiti, too — with potentially incredible results. Jatropha is rich in protein like a soybean meal. Oil from jatropha can also be burned to fuel stoves, which would decrease the need to cut through forests for charcoal. Meanwhile, jatropha is a tree that can likewise be used to reforest barren land and stabilize its soil.

And wait — there's more. Jatropha oil can be transformed into biodiesel, and in a country largely dependent on diesel, that's a fact that could make a huge fiscal difference. According to Pressoir, diesel accounts for 50% of Haiti's fuel dependency. (Just last year, Haiti imported $380 million in diesel for its electrical generators and you can read detailed coverage on this in the New York Times here.)

“Diesel is the second largest commodity market in Haiti,” says Pressoir. “So there is a huge local market for diesel or diesel substitute.”

Right now, Pressoir and his nonprofit venture CHIBAS are working with the help of USAID and L'Agence Nationale De La Recherche in France to explore what could be a market of half a billion dollars. Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture is backing the jatropha initiative, too, though the government worries jatropha might interfere with traditional food crops. Those concerns have been addressed, says Pressoir, and more than a million acres have been identified for jatropha plantations that won't bleed the local farming economy.

Is jatropha a viable solution to both Haiti’s food and energy security issues? I'd say it looks quite promising. The plant is a sound investment — and a potentially powerful way to kill two birds with one stone.

To read more and see the full article on Jatropha World Costa Rica click here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Webinar Thursday 16th 1:00pm Eastern

Planning an investment in Real Estate in Costa Rica?

Then you won't want to miss this webinar:

Attend this webinar and you'll learn more about:

Costa Rica
Real Estate Purchase in Costa Rica
Real Estate Ownership in Costa Rica
The Pitfalls to avoid
The Fundamental Mistake Many Investors Make
Nature Walk, Turrubares

James Cahill of Costa Rica Invest will alos outline the investment dynamics of the NATUREWALK offering of LAND + TEAK FORESTRY + DEVELOPMENT USE.

Find out why this investment model performs BETTER that most and why it is SAFER that most. With the recent trends in the market indicating a turnaround is in process in the real estate, tourism and forestry sectors of Costa Rica, how will this trend effect the Land, the Forestry and Development components at NATUREWALK.

Discover how this combination investment avoids the fundamental investment mistake that many investors make.

For those who are not familiar with Costa Rica, a quick presentation on the Country is offered as well as information on the NATUREWALK PROJECT and it's socio-economic objectives. Joining for this session is Tim Alexander of PRG Canada, the Developers of the NATUREWALK brand of ecological developments who will highlight the growing importance and influence on real estate development of trends concerning the environment, social responsibility and corporate governance.

This interactive webcast presentation will last approximately 20 minutes followed by a Q&A session for you to ask specific questions.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Federal Railroad Administration Invests in Biofuels

7 December 2010

With a vision to decrease the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded two research grants in a bid to advance the use of bio-based fuels and lubricants.

We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint through the use of alternative sources,’ said US transportation secretary Ray LaHood. ‘These innovative projects are just the latest steps in making our transportation systems cleaner all across the country.’

The FRA awarded $395,189 (€295,855) to North Carolina State University to continue its research into the use of biofuels for freight and passenger rail operations, which will result in a possible recommendation of a premium biofuel blend for train engines

Additionally, the Natrional Ag-based Lubricant Center at the University of Northern Iowa received $371,373 to study the feasability of using readily biodegradeable soy-based lubricants by freight passenger railroads.

Commenting on the grants federal Railroads administrator Joseph Szabo said "FRA has a long history of funding research to make railroads more energy efficient and cleaner".

To read the full story on the Biofuels Interantional Website click here

Brazilian airline flies on biofuel

24 November 2010

On 22 November an Airbus A320 was flown off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Latin America, fuelled by a 50:50 blend of biofuel and conventional aviation fuel.

The 45-minute flight, which was conducted by Brazil’s largest airline TAM, Airbus and engine manufacturer CFM International, used biodiesel derived from jatropha seeds in what has been named the first experimental flight in South America using aviation fuel.

Since February 2008 a total of six flights have been successfully flown using a biofuel blend. Air New Zealand, Continental, Japan Airlines, KLM and Virgin Atlantic have all tested aviation biofuel from a variety of feedstocks including jatropha, coconut oil, algae and camelina seed oil.

According to the president of TAM Libano Barroso, the airline is looking to build ‘a Brazilian platform for sustainable aviation bio-kerosene.’

Barroso defended the non-edible crop, claiming that food crop production is not threatened by it as it ‘can be planted along pastures and food crops.’ The president claimed that studies have shown jatropha-based biofuels to emit between 65 and 80% less carbon than traditional aviation kerosene.

To read the full story on the Biofuels International website click here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lufthansa unveils plan to test biofuels on regular domestic flights

30 November 2010 Deutsche Welle

German airline Lufthansa plans to begin testing the use of biofuels on one of its popular domestic flight routes from April next year. The carrier hopes to make inroads into cutting the size of its carbon footprint.

Germany's national air carrier Lufthansa said on Monday it would start test the use of biofuel to supplement kerosene on one of its major domestic flights.

The airline plans to use the dual fuel sources on its four-times-daily service between Hamburg and Frankfurt from April 2011, in a project aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

"Through the test on the route between Hamburg and Frankfurt, the effect of the biofuel on the maintenance and lifespan of the engines can be investigated," said Manfred Aigner, head of the German Aerospace Center's combustion technology institute.

A quarter of the fuel used by the Airbus 321 airplanes operating on the route will be composed of a synthetic mixture made from 50 percent vegetable oil.

Up to four times more costly than kerosene

Lufthansa plans to spend 6.6 million euros (8.7 million dollars) on the project, with the biofuel costing three to four times more than kerosene.

Project leader Joachim Buse told a press conference that the use of biofuel would mean a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 1,500 metric tons over the six-month test period.

While air Japan and Air New Zealand have already tested biofuels in their airplanes, Lufthansa said it would be the first carrier to use them on a regular basis.

The airline said it hoped that biofuels could make up between five and ten percent of its fuel consumption by 2020.

To read the full detailed story click here