My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: PCJ, UTECH develop Castor Oil-based Biodiesel to reduce Oil imports by 97,000 barrels

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Friday, August 4, 2017

PCJ, UTECH develop Castor Oil-based Biodiesel to reduce Oil imports by 97,000 barrels

The PCJ has ambitions to cut our use of Imported by switching to biodiesel made from Castor Oil.

So says group head of PCJ, Winston Watson at the Alternative Energy Expo, held June 16-17 in New Kingston as published in the article “UTech To Refine Castor Fuel Formula For PCJ” published Sunday June 25, 2017, by Sashana Small, The Jamaica Gleaner.  

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At the Alternative Energy Expo, held June 16-17 in New Kingston, he stated that Biofuel made from Castor oil could save Jamaica a lot on Diesel, quote: “….approximately $633 million annually on our energy bills while also giving our local agricultural sector a boost”.

Castor Oil as Biodiesel – PCJ’s Agenda from Alternative Energy Expo 2016 for Vision 2020

This is not a new idea; I’ve already mentioned the possibility of Biodiesel being made from Castor Oil in my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “Castor Oil from the Oil Nut Tree is a Future Biofuel for Jamaica”.

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The PCJ's blend of Castor Oil-based Biodiesel, referred to as B5, as it has a 5% blend of Diesel and Castor Oil-based Biodiesel, can potential reduce imported Oil by 97,000 barrels. Via a partnership with UTECH, who will provide technical support services, B5 will be further refined and perfected.

The biofuels project include several agencies, namely:

1.      PCJ
2.      Bodles Agricultural Research Station
3.      CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute)
4.      UTECH

The PCJ has since adjusted that figure to $540 million as noted in the article “Biodiesel From Locally-Grown Castor Seeds Could Save Country Over $500m Annually – PCJ”, published Thursday August 3, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

I'm personally impressed as Biodiesel was on PCJ Agenda at their last Alternative Energy Expo in 2016 along with Hydroelectric Power as part of their Alternative Energy towards Vision 2020 as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Biodiesel and Hydroelectric Power at PCJ's Alternative Energy Expo a must before 2020”. 

So how does UTECH factor into the developement of this Castor Oil-based Biodiesel?

PCJ and UTECH Castor Oil-based Biodiesel – B5 can replace 97,000 barrels of imported Oil

According to PCJ project engineer for biofuels Niconor Reece, approximately $17.5 million has been invested in small-scale biodiesel research in Jamaica. The PCJ in partnership with UTECH, plans to source its castor oil locally, through the JCIA (Jamaica Castor Industry Association).

Using this fuel standard set by the Bureau of Standard Jamaica that came into effect in 2013 under the Petroleum Quality Control Act, successful vehicular tests have already been conducted to quote PCJ Corporate Affairs and Communication Manager Camille Taylor: “Research in the alternative-energy industry has always been ongoing at the PCJ, but recently, we have had successful vehicular trials using biodiesel made from castor oil. We have already developed the formula. What we are expecting is that UTech, being a learning and research institution, will conduct further tests and further refine the formula”.

Already biodiesel-blended fuels are being used by the National Bakery as noted in “Running on Greens”, published Sunday March 4, 2012 by Christopher Serju, Sunday Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner

University of the West Indies via Dr Michael Coley of the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science and Technology, at the University of the West Indies and a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) YCWJ (Youth Crime Watch Jamaica) have already embarked on recycling Cooking Oil as noted in my blog article entitled “UWI and YCWJ team up to Recycle Waste Cooking Oil - How to make National Bio-Diesel Production from Waste Cooking Oil”.

So when will Castor Oil-based Biodiesel be introduced to the public?

The PCJ would go this route via a public-private partnership (PPP) based on the work done by UTech. Guinea pigs are welcome apparently; Companies with large fleets of vehicles liking to save on fuel costs are being invited to adopt biodiesel-blended fuel….and recycled cooking oil may literally be a part of that blend!

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