Detroit, Michigan – General Motors has announced a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop the jatropha plant, traditionally considered a weed, into an oil that can be refined into biodiesel.

The project goal is to demonstrate that jatropha can produce significant quantities of oil for biodiesel conversion, and to develop new plant varieties that have high yields, can withstand frost, and grow in temperature climates such as the U.S. The drought-resistant, non-edible plant can be grown commercially with minimal care on marginal land.

Under the project, two jatropha farms will be established in India near GM’s car manufacturing plant there. An existing farm in Bhavnagar will also be managed under the project.

“In the long term, if jatropha is commercially viable, it will reduce dependence on petroleum as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic growth,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice-president of environment, energy and safety policy. “It would also boost GM India growth plans with biodiesel-capable products, and reiterate GM India’s commitment to green technology and alternate fuel solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuel.”

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