New biodiesel tree research by UK/China team

CHENGDU, SICHUAN, December 22 — Biologists at the University of York in the UK have established new research links with Chinese scientists to investigate biodiesel – a cleaner, more environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum.

Professor Ian Graham led a delegation of scientists from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) at York to Sichuan University.

The CNAP scientists participated in a workshop arranged to explore production of biodiesel from Jatropha Curcas – a tree that grows in the tropics and produces oil-rich seeds that can be used to make biofuel. The York delegation included Professor Simon McQueen-Mason, Dr Yi Li, Dr Tony Larson and Dr Andrew King.

The work, says China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), has enhanced south China’s technical level of energy plant cultivation, such as the planting of Jatropha Curcas.

The oil from Jatropha Curcas can be used as biodiesel in any diesel engine without modification.

MOST says the research findings are expected to boost local economies, alleviate poverty in rural China, and will help the country take effective steps in setting up a sophisticated cultivation-processing-sales system.

While in China, Professor Graham and Professor McQueen-Mason were awarded Guest Professorships from Sichuan University. Professor McQueen-Mason said: “We are greatly honoured by the award and very excited by the opportunity of interacting with Chinese scientists in this very important area.”

The trip was funded by the British Consulate-General Office in Chongqing as part of the UK-China Partners in Science Programme.

Tim Summers, British Consul-General for Chongqing, said: “Renewable energy is one of the agreed priority areas for future co-operation between the two countries, and we hope this visit to Chengdu will be the first of many by Professor Graham and his colleagues.”

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