Fossil fuels are depleting? Relax – The biofuels era is emerging!


I am in opinion and many of us will agree with me that at present biofuel/ bioenergy is the need of the hour as an alternate source of fuel/ energy because natural resources are depleting and energy demand is increasing at rapid pace.

We are also very much aware that petroleum sources are limited and therefore the dependence on renewable energy sources has to be increased. Of all renewable energy sources, biomass accounts for over one third of the energy used in developed countries. The two important bio-fuels generated from biomass are bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. Being agriculturist I know that there are a number of plant species yielding oil with low and high molecular weight hydrocarbons, which can provide bio-diesel.

Developed countries are using edible oil seed crops to meet out the demand for biodiesel.  But we can not afford to use edible oils for the same in our country. The reason being, edible oil consumption is higher than its domestic production. Hence, there is no possibility of diverting this edible oil for production of bio-diesel.  Fortunately in India, there is a large junk of degraded forest land and un-utilized public land, field boundaries and fallow lands of farmers where non-edible oil-seeds can be grown.

Fossil fuels have been the prime source of energy for the transportation and industrial sector for more than a century. However, their rapidly increasing consumption and consequent depletion of reserves clearly show that the end of the “Fossil Fuel Age” is not very far. For developing countries like India, rising world prices of crude oil and petroleum, gives maximum cause for concern. Currently Ethanol and biodiesel are gaining acceptance worldwide as good substitutes for oil in the transportation sector.

India, a country with fast growing economy is facing the challenge of meeting the increasing demand for energy. Presently, the country is testing its options for a partial switch over to bio-fuels as a means of energy. In general, bio-ethanol produced from sugar or starch derived from grains/biomass and biodiesel obtained from the processing of edible and non-edible vegetable oils are used as fuel in automobiles. It is well established that bio-fuels offer a number of environmental, social and economic advantages. The use of bio-fuels may lead to reduction in vehicle pollution and green house gas emissions. The greening of wastelands and regeneration of degraded forest lands through cultivation of bio-fuel crops is another added advantage.

Among the many species, which can yield oil as a source of energy in the form of bio-diesel, Jatropha curcas has been found reasonably suitable due to its short gestation period, hardy nature, high and quality oil content etc. Furthermore, Jatropha plantation provides many other products such as manure for the crops, methane for power generation and glycerol for industrial use besides, enormous advantage of carbon trading. The fruit pulp and the remaining de-oiled seed cake can be used for the production of bio-gas by anaerobic fermentation. Slurry from bio gas plant can further be processed as manure. The slurry of the bio gas plant can be mechanically separated into concentrate of rich nutrients for using in plantation. The dried out slurry forms manure for the agricultural use. Both these products can provide a major substitute to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The investment in the sector would give boost to support rural based industry by providing raw material for extraction of oils, value addition, packing, transport, marketing etc. A lot of man power can be generated by successfully organizing this programme of plantation of bio-fuel species.

Ethanol production focused over sugarcane molasses as a primary feed stock is neither economically viable nor sustainable with the available technologies. It is therefore, essential to prioritize the various options available so that the efforts are not only directed towards making it sustainable and economically viable, but also pro-poor and resource saving. If promoted, sweet sorghum based ethanol may prove a better option, which would be pro-poor in marginal and rainfed areas. Therefore, selection of the best feed stocks with long-term prospects should be one important course of action; but simultaneous thrust on improving the existing technology for greater efficiency is also central to success.

Finally its my dream that, by 2020 India should become self sufficient in biofuel production from tree borne oil seeds and can meet out the growing demand of bio fuel/bioenergy and serve as a alternate fuel.

Photo: Jatropha fruits

Blogpost and photo by Dr. Sudhir Kumar, Principal Scientist – Horticulture, National Research Centre for Agroforestry (Jhansi, India) – dr65sudhirkumar(at)


This post is entry nr #42 in our #WCA2014 blog competition. The five blogposts with the most and highest votes will receive a signed copy of the book "Trees for Life". The most popular blogpost will get an iPad.


This blogpost received 106 votes, with an average score of 4.5 (out of a max of 5).

If you have questions or remarks on the project described in this post, please leave a comment below. Please also rate the other blogcompetition entries!

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74 People have left comments on this post

» Dr. R.P. Dwivedi, Principal Scientist, Jhansi said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 11:02:45 }

Well done Dr. Sudhir Kumar. NRCAF, Jhansi is leading ICAR institute which is providing very useful information on biofuel.

» Dr Mahesh Chander said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 12:02:09 }

My vote for this, since it has attempted to address the fuel crisis due to depleting fossil fuel & meeting it by alternative means like biofuel!

» Dr A. Ram said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 12:02:55 }

Excellent blog sir……keep it up

» Dr.Badre Alam said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 01:02:49 }

It is very good and thoughtful idea.

» Sridhar said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 02:02:49 }

Wonderful work done by Jatropha man Dr Sudhir, Hats off to you sir

» Vijay K Gour said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 03:02:46 }

I appreciate that Dr. Sudhir Kumar has begun his blog citing “The Biofuels Era is Emerging” and highlighted Jatropha curcas as the most potential feedstock. The genetically improved versions of Jatropha is now a reality; it has returned from time of hype to hope. Compliments.

» Dr Sudhir Kumar said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 06:02:19 }

Thanks to all the above viewers and readers for commenting on my blogs and casting valuable vote. Once again thanks.
Dr Sudhir

» vijay laxmi said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 03:02:30 }

your dream that, by 2020 India should become self sufficient in biofuel production from tree borne oil seeds may come true our all the good wishes is with you

» Dr.S.V.Devi said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 04:02:07 }

Working on biofuels at NRCAF, Jhansi I would emphasize that Jatropha indeed has a great potential among other TBOs. The crop has to be modified with suitable breeding approaches for economically feasible yield. Indeed the hype on Jatropha is returning back with hope.

» Satish Kumar Pandey said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 05:02:14 }

My vote for this sir, With fast depletion of fossil fuels, increasing focus is being given to the development of bio-energy as a
potential future source of energy and this has brought Jatropha, a tree-borne oil seed crop.

» Dr. Ram Newaj said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 06:02:07 }

Bio fuel is one of the biological mitigation of climate change and Dr. sudhir made a good research efforts in this direction.

» Dr B P Kushwaha said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 06:02:09 }

If it happens, it will be a great help to the nation, kep it up

» Dr R.K. Tewari said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 06:02:47 }

Interesting blog, This is the field where scientists have to show their strength to serve humanity, congrats.

» inder dev said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 07:02:52 }

Good work done

» Dr Archana Singh said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 07:02:25 }

Jatropha is a good source of biodiesel for future

» K.P. RAO, Sr Technical Officer [AKMU], IGFRI, JHANSI said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 07:02:51 }

Nice done Dr. Sudhir Kumar. NRCAF, Jhansi is leading ICAR institute which is providing very useful information on biofuel/ bioenergy, bio-diesel and bio-ethanol.

» Dr. D. R. Palsaniya said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 08:02:36 }

Biofuels are the need of the time to save mother planet. Blending of diesel with biofuels will definitely improve the environment. See the sucees of biofuels in Brazil………Appreciation for Dr. Sudhir ji…

» Dr. R.H. Rizvi said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 09:02:30 }

Bio fuels can supplement the fossil fuels bul also lot of Govt. exchequer can be saved.

» Dr RV Kumar said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 09:02:03 }

Biofuel is present as well as future need of hour. Sincere and systematic research on genetically improved material of Jatropha and Pongamia will certainly help in providing renewable and sustainable source of energy in India.

» Dr. Sunil Kumar P.S. Horticulture said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 09:02:41 }

This is need of hour to develop alernative

» Dr. Sunil Kumar P.S. Horticulture said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 09:02:30 }

Good work for motivation

» SB Sharma said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 10:02:50 }

interestin to read.

» Dr. R. K. Tewari said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 11:02:29 }

True, I do agree with your views.

» Dr. Mahendra Singh said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 11:02:22 }

Be optimistic about bio-fuel plantations.

» Dr. Nagesh Kumar Shah said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 11:02:58 }

The biofuels era is emerging! We have to concentrate our research priorities for alternate source of biofuels such as Jatropha curcas, to meet out our future need, as the petroleum sources are depleteing year by year.
Excellent work by Dr. Sudhir of NRCAF, Jhansi.

» Dr Sudhir Kumar said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 05:02:41 }

Thanks to one and all to post comment for this blog but simultaneously I am disappointed as only few have cast their valuable votes, so my humble request is that if you are really appreciating the blog then cast your vote too.

» Dr Sudhir Kumar said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 05:02:19 }

Dear All, please cast your valuable vote by clicking “yellow star” available at the end of blog.

» Dr. C. S. Sahay said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 04:02:55 }

Good work on Jatropha.

» DR VINOD KUMAR said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 04:02:26 }

Meeting the future needs of petroleum resources, it will be the best alternatives for future and for energy crisis. Keep it up Jatrophaman DR. SUDHIR

» aksingh said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 04:02:38 }

interestin research

» Sohan singh Dhapola said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:48 }

At present bio energy is the need of hour because the available petroleum resources is going to be depleted in near future.

» Mohit Singh Kushwaha said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:06 }

Excellent Blob…

» RAMESH GIRI said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:32 }

Well done Dr. Sudhir ! you have doing really great job.

» Mayank Chaturvedi said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:15 }

For the fulfillment of today’s fuel and energy demand and to make our country self dependent this type of studies are really needed. I want to congratulate Dr. Sudhir Kumar sir for their valuable work in the field of bio-fuel production. Nice article……

» Mayank said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:29 }

How far we depends on natural fuel and resources. To make our mother planate pollution free and to make Our Country self-dependent, to mitigate global warming one and only option is Bio-fuel production which is the basic need of emerging India. a lot of thanks to Dr. Sudhir Kumar sir for their research and ideas.

» Amit kumar jain said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:21 }

very nice

» Birendra Singh said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:14 }


» Dr. Vishva Deepak Tripathi said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:25 }

I agree with The bio-fuels era is emerging!.

» Dr Rupali Tiwari Bhargava said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 05:02:58 }

Sir its an excellent blog. All the best for ur dream may come true.

» Anil k singh said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 06:02:46 }

This type research is very good.

» Anil said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 07:02:48 }

very inspiring work in biofuel

» Dr Ashok Gupta said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 07:02:47 }

We have closely followed the yields of Jatropha per ha p.a. at the field level for the last more than one decade on non-arable land across Indian continent and also globally. We are yet to see economically viable results. In India ~ 1.1 million acres jatropha has been planted at huge cost, but any commercial jatropha oil production is yet not available for affordable Bio-diesel at even Rs 60/ lit !!
It is still in the realm of a hype. Dr S V Devi has rightly observed (on Feb. 5 above) as “…. (jatropha) crop has to be modified with suitable breeding approaches for economically feasible yield. Indeed the hype on Jatropha ………..”
Jatropha seed varieties of required (domesticated) for consistent productivity and disease resistance etc are still elusive.
In parallel, Indian Scientists may develop other indigenous TBOs viz, Pongamia, etc. for mass production of veg oil and also for production of ligno-cellulosic biomass for direct conversion (BTL) to liquid biofuels, which now enables production of transportation liquid fuels at lower cost .

» Dr.Anil Nair said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 08:02:22 }

Nice write up Dr.Sudhir….keep it up and wishes

» Dr S kartigeyan said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 08:02:05 }

Good work! Some earlier initiative from DOR, Hyderabad (ICAR) is there.

» Dr. ramesh singh said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 09:02:18 }

good work. congrats

» Dr Rajesh Uppal said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 09:02:11 }

Exellent work

» S Hazarika said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 09:02:28 }

Excellent work. Really need of the hour.

» DR. Alok Krishna said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 12:02:37 }

Mounting fuel prices and the global uproar about rapidly declining reserves of fossil fuels, commercially viable and environment friendly alternatives and best substitute for petrol and diesel is biofuel means JATROPHA. Good wishes for your future scientific pursuit.

» Sanjeet said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 12:02:41 }

you are doing a good job. Probably it is a new energy prospect of future.

» hari shanker said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 12:02:35 }

Definitely you have done good job in the line of Biofuel because there is no any other alternatives of fossil fuel only JATROPHA can solve our energy crisis in future.

» Dr Sudhir Kumar said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 04:02:25 }

Thanks to all for liking the blog, posting comments and casting your valuable votes.

» Dr. R.R. Sharma said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 04:02:46 }

Excellent idea, if executed. Go ahead, and all the best, Dr Sudhir

» Rajesh Kumar Srivastava said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 04:02:20 }

The world is facing crisis for petroleum products and to solve the problem, it could be a best option. Best wishes and congrats.

» Kirti Sharma said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 04:02:37 }

Well said, The need of the hour is to save our depleting resources. By utilizing renewable energy sources we are helping our present needs and future requirements togather.

» Dr. Rajeev Tiwari said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 04:02:37 }

Good Work

» Dr. J.B.Singh said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 05:02:12 }

very nice aricle

» Dr. RK Sharma said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 05:02:13 }

Development of Bio- fuels will be a great service to the living by saving the environment and conserving natural resources.

» kuldip singh said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 06:02:41 }

Well done Dr. sudhir, I am100% confident that jatropha idea can be used as a wonderful sustainable fuel for ALL forms of diesel engines.

» Dr H VSingh said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 07:02:08 }

good information. Jatropha has potential to harness as bio fuel in future

» DR. V.K. SHAKYA said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 09:02:24 }

yours dreams will definitely comes true by 2020 my good wishes for your future research in jatropha.

» Narendra kumar said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 10:02:10 }

good work on biodiesal plant

» Dr Rajendra Prasad said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 10:02:30 }

Biofuel? Great contribution if we are able to breed high yielding clones / cultivar of Jatropha/ karanja/ other TBOs.

» S. Ghosal said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 10:02:28 }

Very fine concept; requires lot of pursuance.

» K. Rajarajan said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 11:02:11 }

very nice

» Suheel Ahmad said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 02:02:15 }

Very nice sir…

» Dr Sudhir Kumar said: { Feb 7, 2014 - 04:02:21 }

Thanks to all the above friends, colleagues, seniors for commenting and voting for this blog…..thank you very much.

» Dr. Maharaj Singh said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 02:02:32 }

In view of fuel crisis Dr Sudhir has attempted good work. keep it up

» Dr. Maharaj Singh said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 02:02:14 }

well done, keep it up

» Ganesan RP said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 04:02:56 }

Dear all,

I have tried this Jatropa, and many farmers. A total failure. Reasons, doesn’t not give enough seeds to be viable. Another logic, for biodiesel be comparable with diesel, seed price can not exceed Rs 10, which is not at all viable to farmers. Castor seed price is Rs 75, which itself is not good enough, because of cost and risk of rain.

So I strongly feel, Pongamia pinnata is a viable, with stands drought and pernial.

» DAKSH said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 04:02:26 }

I along with many other farmers have grown jatropa on their fileds when jatropa project was in full hype. It failed in all calculations and many growers now frequently say Jatropa has extracted oil from growers than from its seed.

» Dr. Ankegowda S J said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 04:02:06 }

Dr. Sudhirkumar. It is very good article

» SHARUTI RATHORE said: { Feb 15, 2014 - 07:02:43 }

Dear sir,

your article on Jatropa, contains lots of information. Must be appreciated. All the best.

» Ankita Kaushik said: { Feb 17, 2014 - 09:02:50 }

sir, really its very innovative n noble concept.

» nitin said: { Mar 2, 2014 - 08:03:34 }

Eco spray is a great product will definately use again in the future, worth the price. i have never used this before so i gave it a try and my car seems to be running great.

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