East Hawaii News

Pacific Biodiesel Begins Harvest of Puna-Grown Jatropha Seeds

August 21, 2013, 8:14 AM HST
* Updated August 21, 8:42 AM
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Pacific Biodiesel Technologies has begun to harvest the seeds of hundreds of acres of Jatropha plants grown in Puna under a partnership with Hawai`i Pure Plant Oil Farms.

HIPPO farms began planting some 200 acres of Jatropha Curas in Puna back in 2008, and expects to harvest approximately 40,000 pounds off the first 100 acres of mature plants.

“The fields were prepared with care so as much labor as possible can be done mechanically,” explained James Twigg-Smith, who founded HIPPO with his son Christian.

The seeds of the plants will be transferred to Pacific Biotechnology’s newly installed seed crushing mill a few miles from HIPPO’s farm. Once the oil has been extracted, it will be processed into distilled biodiesel.

Pacific Biodiesel's commercial crushing mill in Kea`au, Hawai`i. PBT image.

Pacific Biodiesel’s commercial crushing mill in Kea`au, Hawai`i. PBT image.

Jatropha seeds contain oil that can be processed into biodiesel fuel for use in standard diesel engines.

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The plants themselves are drought-tolerant, and grow in tropical and sub-tropical climates. HIPPO’s farm is the largest Jatropha crop in the United States, and contains mature plant growth, which is critical for production.

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The harvest is part of the federally funded Hawaii Military Biofuel Crop (HMBC) project. The HMBC initiative is intended to develop production models for Jatropha and other crops, with methods being shared with potential biofuel crop growers throughout the state.

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