Gandhinagar, (IANS) General Motors India has signed an agreement with the Central Salt and Marine Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI) and the US Department of Energy to develop and supply biodiesel to run its vehicles, a company official said Monday. The five year $950,000 tripartite partnership aims at developing jatropha as a sustainable energy crop. “If it proves commercially viable, GM India will be ready to respond by introducing biodiesel-capable products,” General Motors India president and managing director Karl Slym said.

The CSMCRI unveiled here a General Motors Tavera, being run on B-100 jatropha methyl ester or jatropha biodiesel, without any modifications being made on the vehicle. The biodiesel was produced through a process internationally patented Feb 23 this year, said an official of the Bhavnagar-based CSMCRI, which is under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). CSMCRI had so far supplied the automobile firm 17,000 litres of biodiesel and the company has so far test driven six of its vehicles over 50,000 km using this laboratory optimised strains of jatropha grown on its designated farms.

According to CSMCRI director Pushpito Ghosh, four kg of jatropha fruit seeds – currently costing around Rs.12 per kg – yield a litre of biodiesel. However the cost per litre comes down to Rs.35 due to other by-products like biodegradable plastic which follow from it. “Per litre mileage is comparable to fossil fuels but emerges more profitable due to less emissions,” he added. Ghosh said that under the new project, two new farms will be established on a 33 hectare area in Bhavnagar and a 20 hectare plot in Kalol. This is besides the existing 30 hectare farm in Bhavnagar. “Our facility at Bhavnagar already produces 500 litres of biodiesel per day and another for the defence ministry manufactures one tonne of biodiesel daily,” he added. Read more: