Customizing biodiesel from tropical trees

Question: Can tropical oilseed-bearing trees be used as a source of biodiesel?

Five institutions in the Pacific and Pacific Rim region are collaborating to answer that question. The College of Micronesia (COM), Northern Marianas College (NMC), University of Guam (UG), and University of Hawaii (UH) are producing oils from coconut, kamani, and Jatropha. The University of Alaska – Fairbanks (UAF) will receive oil extracted from seeds, conduct fatty acid analysis, convert the oil into biodiesel, and analyze diesel engine emissions.

The oil producing institutions were provided with a protocol composed of activities to capture fatty acid differences attributable to temperature. Each institution was to identify two sites that differed in mean annual air temperature, collect soil samples, apply fertilizer, record temperature data, collect seed and extract oil, and ship oils to UAF.

Sponsor: The research activity is sponsored through a grant to the University of Hawaii from the Western Sun Grant Center at Oregon State University.

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Six months after planting, Jatropha curcus planted at the Kula Agricultural Park on Maui were already bearing oil seeds.