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Cuba makes biodiesel from ‘bellyache bush’ seed oils

A new biodiesel plant in Cuba will make "green" fuel from seed oils rather than the traditional edible vegetable oils, The China Post reported.

The seeds of the jatropha or "bellyache bush" have traditionally been used to fight intestinal parasites and to lower fevers, but only in small doses due to its toxicity. However, jatropha seed have also been found to be rich in oil and has the capacity to produce more than 100 tons of biofuel per year.

Cuba is now looking at jatropha as biofuel feedstock, as the country now bans the use of food components in fuel processing.

Previously, sunflower and soybean oil has been used by the industry to produce fuel, but the use of seed oil is "a major change to the widespread paradigm in global biofuel production," said Jose Sotolongo, director at the Guantanamo Center for Applied Technology for Sustainable Development.

Around 130 jatropha seeds have been planted in the Guantanamo biodiesel plant, with the first few liters of fuel produced successfully tested to power agricultural machinery in the area.

The government of Cuba, together with support from humanitarian group Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, provided the funding to the first biodiesel plant in the island. – EcoSeed Staff

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