There has been greater awareness on Biodiesel in india in the recent times due to shortage of Petrodiesel and soaring prices. Significant activities have picked up for its production especially with a view to reduce the huge cost involved in import of Petroleum fuel and to take care of the shortage of Petrodiesel anticipated within a few years from now. In addition, the process of production of Biodiesel from non edible vegetable oil will boost the rural economy and providing non-polluting, bio degradable and safe environment.
Considering all the aspects available among non-edible Tree Bearing Oil (TBO) seeds, Jatropha curcas has been identified as the most suitable seed for extraction of oil and subsequent processing of Biodiesel. The best source of producing Biodiesel is Jatropha curcas, a plant that grows well mainly in tropical climate. Jatropha can be grown in arid zones (20 cm rainfall) as well as higher rainfall zones and even on land with thin soil cover.
In tropical countries like ours, Jatropha grows well and can bloom and produce fruit through out the year. To withstand extreme drought conditions, Jatropha plant sheds leaves to conserve moisture which may result in reduced growth. Although, Jatropha is adapted to soils with low fertility and alkalinity, better yields can be obtained on poor quality soils, if fertilizers containing small amount of nutrients are used for the first two years.
India produces only 22% of its diesel requirement & 78% is imported at a huge cost in foreign currency. With the introduction of compulsory use of 10-20% Biodiesel in UK, USA, France, Germany, Japan & other countries who specifies a 40-50% mix by 2010. India has a huge requirement by 2010 to meet the world norms & emission standard & accordingly a National policy has already been given a green signal by Govt. of India in the year 2003. Indian Railways have already carried out a trial run on Amritsar-Shatabdi Express with Biodiesel. Similarly, Haryana State Transport buses have been run by using biodiesel. Indian Railways have taken a decision to plant Jatropha trees by the side of railway tracks & Indian Oil other agencies in possession of Biodiesel Processing Units will eventually process the Jatropha oil into biodiesel for Indian Railways & to meet the national needs.