Cuba successfully test drives biofuel vehicle
Biodiesel produced using the oil of the inedible plant Jatropha curcus.
HAVANA, Cuba, Wednesday July 25, 2012 – Cuba has successfully tested vehicle biofuel, using it to drive an automobile 1,500 kilometres (930 miles), state media reported Sunday.
Part of the first 400 litres (about 106 gallons) of the biofuel produced by a new factory in Guantanamo province was mixed in a 70-30 ratio with diesel and used to power a 2007 Toyota Hilux, the head of the Applications Centre for Sustainable Development, engineer Jose Sotolongo, said.
The biodiesel was produced using the oil of Jatropha curcas, an inedible flowering plant, referred to as the “bellyache bush” in some parts of the English-speaking Caribbean.
The new factory, which has the capacity to produce more than 100 tons of liquid biofuel per year, is part of the BIOMAS-CUBA project, which is administered by the state along with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
Sotolongo said that after a week of testing the biodiesel, the automobile was running with greater efficiency than normal, a situation he attributed to the lubricating effects of the jatropha oil.
The engineer added that the biofuel could also be used in gasoline-powered vehicles "in the proper proportion."
Among the project's advantages is the use of an inedible plant that does not compete with the island's food production, in contrast to other nutritive species, including corn and sugar cane, which are being used by other countries in similar biofuel production projects.
Additionally, cultivation of the jatropha plant is said to be feasible in areas of low or no agricultural value.