Castor oil, the new source for biofuels?

While most people will remember castor oil as something to use as medication, it is now being considered as a feedstock for biofuels. A number of different crops are currently used to make biodiesel, but are these crops really the optimal source? The various feedstocks for biodiesel have a widely varying biodiesel yield. Soybeans are usually the main source for biodiesel, because they are plentiful worldwide and because soybean growers have been promoting the use of soy oil in biodiesel. The cost of producing one gallon of 100 percent biodiesel is approximately $2.40 to $2.50, with 75% of the cost coming from the soy oil feedstock, which is about the same as what you would pay for off-road, on farm diesel. Clearly, it would make biodiesel more attractive if the feedstock cost could be reduced. Mississippi State is conducting research, funded by the federal government, on a number of alternative crops, both winter and summer annuals, and perennials. While one acre of soybeans yields about 50 to 60 gallons of soybean oil, castor can supply up to 141 gallons of castor oil per acre.
[Source: Delta Farm Press]

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