Published July 22, 2012
Cuba tested vehicle biofuel for the first time in a new factory on the island, state-run media reported Sunday.
The biofuel was used to drive an automobile 1,500 kilometers (930 miles).
Part of the first 400 liters (about 106 gallons) of the biofuel turned out by the plant were mixed in a 70-30 ratio with diesel and used to power a 2007 Toyota HILUX, the head of the Applications Center for Sustainable Development, engineer Jose Sotolongo, said.
The resulting biodiesel was produced using the oil of Jatropha curcas, an inedible flowering plant, at the factory opened a week ago in the eastern province of Guantanamo.
The facility has the capacity to produce more than 100 tons per year of liquid biofuel.
The official said that the vehicle used in the test is part of the BIOMAS-CUBA project, which is being participated in by several government departments with the support of the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency.
He said that after a week of testing the biodiesel, the automobile was running with greater efficiency than normal, a situation he attributed to the lubricating effects of the jatropha oil, state news agency AIN reported.
Sotolongo also said that the biofuel could be used in gasoline-powered vehicles but "in the proper proportion."
Among the project's advantages, promoters emphasized, is the fact that an inedible plant is being used that does not compete with the island's food production, in contrast to other nutritive species - including corn and sugarcane - that are being used by other countries in similar biofuel production projects.
The project is being subsidized by the Cuban state with an eye toward integrating energy and food production on the local scale rather than using human food crops to supply fuel.