A non food renewable energy crop

Scientific Classification
: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Jatropheae
Genus: Jatropha

Also known as:

  • Pinhão manso in Brazil
  • Tempate in Nicaragua
  • Physic Nut in the United States
  • Haat in Mexico
  • Ratan Jyot in Hindi
  • Kattamanakku in Tamil
  • Jakar in Indonesian


Analysis of Jatropha oil as fuel:

Density (g/cm3) 0,92

 Ignition point (°C) 340

Solidification point (°C) - 5 Kin.

viscosity (10-6m2/s) 75,7

Iodine value 13

Saponification value 198

Cetan number 23 / 51

Heating value (MJ/kg)   39,628


Jatropha is primarily a tropical genus of approximately 175 succulent plants, shrubs and trees (some are deciduous, like Jatropha curcas L.), from the family Euphorbiaceae. Jatropha is indigenous to Central America, but has been raised in other tropical and subtropical areas such as India, Africa, and North America. Jatropha was initially used as a valuable hedge plant and was exported to Africa and Asia by Portuguese traders. The flowers and stem of Jatropha curcas have well-known medicinal properties, and the leaves are used for dressing wounds. The oil has been used as an organic insecticide as well as an effective treatment for snake bites and other ailments.

The mature Jatropha trees bear male and female inflorescence, and can grow to a height of three to four meters. Each inflorescence bears up to 10 to 15 large fruits and Jatropha generally blooms twice a year under normal conditions. Jatropha is desirable as a source for biofuels given that its seeds produce up to 40% oil, and the species in general is highly resistant to drought and pests. Processed oil from crushed mature seeds can be used in existing standard diesel engines, while the residue can also be processed into biomass to power electricity plants. The seed cake, a by-product of oil production can be used as a natural organic fertilizer rich in organic matter. Research is underway to remove the toxic element prevalent in the seed cake to render it useful as an animal feed.


Jatropha is easy to cultivate. It can survive in degraded soils and in areas that are susceptible to long periods of drought. Jatropha is ideal for cultivation on marginal land, leaving prime areas available for food crops.

Jatropha seed yields 35-40% oil.

Jatropha takes approximately 12 to 15 months from planting to first harvest, and the plant can thrive successfully for 40 years.
Facts and Figures on jatropha



Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)


A solution to greenhouse effect the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has been introduced.


CDM is one of the Kyoto mechanisms; the CDM aims to promote sustainable development in developing countries as well as to help Annex I Parties achieve compliance with their Carbon Emission Reduction (CER). It allows Annex I countries (mostly industrialized countries) to invest in emission-saving projects in developing countries and gain credit for the savings achieved through the generation of Carbon Emission Credits that they can use to contribute to compliance with part of their emission reduction targets. The CERs will be added to Annex I Parties' assigned amounts. The Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when biofuel is burned is recycled by growing plants, which are later processed into fuel. Thus, the CO2 emission of Jatropha oil can be assumed almost zero. For this reason, a project which aims to exploit the potential of Jatropha Curcas as energy crop owns all requisites to be eligible within the CDM


There are new and high potential opportunities to generate carbon finance in the biodiesel sector.  The use of petro-diesel in engines creates a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be greatly reduced by substituting a blend of biodiesel and petro-diesel or using 100 percent biodiesel.  Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced in a number of ways through the biodiesel production process including:

  • Carbon sequestration in the plantations of trees whose seeds are used for biodiesel production
  • Substitution of biodiesel for petro-diesel
  • Use of processed seed cake as an organic fertilizer.

 Biodiesel can be produced from plants such as rapeseed, palm, coconut, or soybean or Jatropha curcas or from used cooking oil from restaurants.  Regarding Clean Development Mechanism projects, there is a great potential in the use of Jatropha curcas


A study concluded that biodiesel yields 3.2 units of fuel product energy for every unit of fossil fuel consumed while petroleum diesel yields 0.83 units.  Additionally, the study concluded that, over a lifecycle, that biodiesel reduces net CO2 emissions by 78%. In relation to carbon credits, it has been estimated that 1 hectare of Jatropha curcas could result in CO2 emissions reductions of 10 tonnes per year (Francis and Becker 2001).  There is a large potential for CDM biodiesel projects in many countries.

Possible CER revenue for a 100 hectare plantation for biodiesel



 Total area(ha)




 Total Trees


 Biodiesel Production  (Litres/year)


 CERs from Biodiesel (Tonnes CO2 e/year)


 Risk related CER price  range($)*


 Total CER revenue($/yr)*



With the above estimation and an estimated retail diesel price of $0.47/litre, CERs for a litre of biodiesel can add value by $0.01 to $0.07/litre or 2 to 15%.

*Amounts in 2007 US$