Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Gomti Biofuel

I’ve already blogged about Jatropha and that India is supposedly the world’s Jatropha garden. I really believe in the Jatropha concept, so it was with a heavy heart that I have given up looking for Jatropha oil after contacting the only people in the country who are producing oil. They told me their product is at such a premium it costs $1500/tonne.

Nothing in India is a fixed price so I dare say I should have haggled a bit, but even so, that works out at about $1.70/litre which is nuts when you think Diesel is $0.60. How is that ever going to make an economic biodiesel? They tell me it’s only used for research at the moment; bought up by producers at a premium price to experiment with.

Sounds like crap to me. The expertise for turning Jatropha oil into biodiesel has been known for a long time now. The challenge is how to grow it efficiently. Varieties/strains/crop rotation/land resting e.t.c. so that plantations can produce good yields with low levels of irrigation on marginal land.

Turns out that over the last 4-5 years since people started talking about Jatropha there’s been millions of dollars used to buy up land rights for growing the crops, but no one has done the unglamorous (and un-venture-capitalist-funded) work of actually developing varieties and production practices. The money-go-round fell apart just over a year ago when D1 Oils, one of the biggest players in securing Jatropha land rights went bust. Despite having the paper capacity to produce massive amounts of oil they only seem to have produced a couple of thousand litres that have sat in a warehouse in Tyneside since 2007. I was offered it for this trip at one point.

D1 are now back and smaller and focussing on researching the agricultural techniques needed to get good production from Jatropha. It’s a plant that takes 5 years to start bearing fruit so it’s a long research process.

In the meantime I have struck really lucky in my quest for waste power. At the Indian border a very enthusiastic entrepreneur called Rocky and his family excitedly ask for a tour around the bus. He tells me there is a man in his town of Haldwani who makes biodiesel and I should come and visit.

I do, and Sanjeev of Gomti Biotech explains the amazing process he’s developed to extract oil from the waste products produced by a vegetable oil manufacturer. The waste looks like oily mud and Sanjeev uses his own patented system of solvent extraction to get 20% of it back as oil which makes the then uses to make great biodiesel. It’s a similar process to extracting oil from sewer grease and trap grease.

The fuel is a blend of Soya waste and Mustard waste so it should stay nice and runny even in the cold Haldwani winters. It’s quite dark and it smells pretty odd. Gomti sell their fuel at 3 local filling stations, and people buy it because it’s cheaper, and has a higher octane rating than normal diesel. There’s no pretence at being green here, but actually this process seems really green to me, and could help the fundamental problem faced by Indian Biodiesel producers that there isn’t any waste oil feedstock and many suppliers are making bio from imported palm oil.

Gomti’s fuel has cleared out my fuel starvation problem, which leads me to think it was probably caused by sludge in the bottom of the tank of the Iranian soya oil. I only had a couple of hundred litres left by the time I topped up with 400 litres from Gomti, and their fuel has probably diluted the sludgy remains and the bus is flying along at 80km/h again.


  1. We are in contact with the It. Embassy to help you

  2. I am Andy's sister. To clarify: these last two posts were set to upload on a schedule. Andy is still in custody and has had no access to email, phones or his computer.
    Thank you to all who are concerned, it is very much appreciated.
    I am in touch with his lawyer and consular assistance and all are doing a great job.
    Many thanks


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