Commercial production of Sajiban fuel soon

Shashi Dhungel

Kathmandu, May 31:

Scientists at the Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology (RECAST), Tribhuvan University (TU), after a seven-year research are all set to test commercial production of biofuel from Sajiban seeds. The research on using Sajiban (Jatropha curcas) seeds to produce biofuel had begun under Mick Boswel, a visiting professor at TU,with support from the British embassy in 1998. “The project is first of its kind in Nepal.The high viscosity of Sajiban oil aids in resisting fire and is thus blended in 5-10 per cent with other fuels in developed countries,” said Dr Sushil Lal Bajracharya, assistant coordinator of the project.

“We have tested a model project using Sajiban oil as fuel to run an engine for 800 hours. Currently 30 houses in Khaireni and Musetuda are also using the oil as fuel for lamps,” said

Mohan B Gewali, executive director at RECAST. Though numerous researches have been conducted, lack of interaction among scientists, bankers and entrepreneurs has stood as a barrier to implementing such research findings on a large scale, he said.

“Sajiban is abundantly found in the Terai . It is easy to grow and the stem of the plant has medicinal value, too. Sajiban plants also aid in soil conservation and eco-system maintenance,” said Chandra Kanta Subedi, botanist and assistant lecturer at TU. Four kilos of Sajiban seeds can yield one litre of oil, which is sufficient to generate 3 KW power for one hour. “Use of Sajiban oil as fuel is a sustainable approach to reduce fuel dependency to other countries. Sajiban can be grown well below an altitude of 1500 metres. The fuel can also be used to generate electricity where hydro-power is not feasible. Compared to hydro-power, the cost of installation of Sajiban oil-based electricity plant would be 70 per cent less,” he said. “We are also seeking government support to promote these kinds of biofuel projects to decrease our fuel dependency to other countries,” he added.