A group of American investors, including Abundant Biofuels Corporation, is analyzing an investment of $25 million in a 10,000-hectare property in southern Honduras, in order to grow plants - especially jatropha - which can be used as jet fuel, according to an announcement last week by the country's Agriculture Ministry.
Producers are already growing jatropha in various countries in the region, including Brazil, Colombia and Peru, at prices below $50 a barrel. Warm weather and abundant rainfall could make Honduras an attractive place for the cultivation of the shrub, which in the right conditions can be intercropped on the same plantation with other plants, such as sugar and coffee.
A hectare of jatropha can each year yield around 15,000 liters of biodiesel, made from oil pressed from the seeds of the plant. In the past two years, an Air New Zealand 747 like the one in the picture, and a Continental Airlines 737-800, successfully conducted test flights, using a mixture of 50:50 biodiesel from jatropha, and standard jet fuel. With aviation fuel prices over $100, growers have an incentive to increase production.