China turns to farmland for bio-fuel
Shenzhen, March 29 (PTI): Chinese scientists are researching on new technologies and breeding oil-rich rapeseed species to run its fast-growing economy with bio-fuel.
Experts attending an ongoing international conference on rapeseed said China, whose annual rape production is 30 per cent of the world total, should use farmland to manufacture bio-diesel, an effort that will reduce its dependence on petroleum-based diesel and cut emissions.
Rape is recognised by scientists the world over as one of the best raw materials for bio-diesel.
"The development of the global bio-diesel industry offers China new opportunities," said Wang Shoucong, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture. "The government should foster research work to nurture high-yield rape species, develop new technologies to increase bio-diesel output and expand rape production in south China in the slack season."
China grows over 15 million acres of rape, with an annual output of 13 million to 14 million tonnes. A new species of rapeseed Chinese scientists bred last year contained a record high 54.72 per cent of oil.
But because of backward technologies the country is making only 100,000 tonnes of bio-diesel a year out of rapeseed, Xinhua news agency quoted Prof Huang Fenghong at the oilseed research institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences as saying.
As the world's third largest oil importer after the United States and Japan, China imported a record 36 million tonnes of refined oil last year, 15.7 per cent up on 2005, to fuel its 10.7 per cent economic growth.
Experts say biofuels are the fourth most important energy source after coal, oil and natural gas.
Vehicles fuelled by bio-diesel do not produce sulphur dioxide and generate less carbon monoxide and other harmful gases.
One of the country's largest bio-fuel projects has been carried out in the south-western border province of Yunnan, with 61,775 acres of oil-rich jatropha curcas trees planted last year to yield bio-diesel for automobiles.
Scientists say the oil content of the seeds of jatropha curcas trees is around 30 per cent.
By 2020, China's will be able to produce 12 million tonnes of bio-liquid fuel such as fuel ethanol and bio-diesel, replacing some 10 million tonnes of refined oil products, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Han Wenke forecast.
Agri. & Commodities