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Biodiesel from Jatropha plants: a new partnership

January 12, 2010 | 12:36 pm

Plant science company SG Biofuels will partner with biotechnology firm Life Technologies Corp. to establish seeds from the jatropha shrub as a viable alternative fuel.  

The alliance would use the massive collection of jatropha curcas genetic materials at SG’s Genetic Resource Center in conjunction with Life Technology’s biotech and synthetic biology tools, Encinitas-based SG said today.

By sequencing and manipulating the jatropha genome to attempt to boost the oil production from the seeds of the inedible Central American plant, the companies hope to make it a sustainable source for biodiesel and feedstock substitutes in the petrochemical and jet fuel industries.

Life Technologies stock was trading up 2.6% at $52.51 in afternoon trading. The company, which in 2008 had sales of more than $3 billion, employs 9,500 people in more than 100 countries.

Also today, sustainable bio-based plastics producer Cereplast Inc. announced that it would move its corporate headquarters to El Segundo while shifting its research and development and production lines to a facility in Indiana.

The company signed a lease for more than five years for a 3,000 square-foot complex, where it will house its offices. But to save money on operations and real estate, Cereplast also plans to start basing its manufacturing in Seymour, Ind., as early as next month.

The facility there was announced in late 2007, but the opening was delayed because of the recession. The company had net sales of $4.5 million in 2008.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Jatropha plant from Belize. Credit: WikiMedia Commons