Jatropha, remember it because the stuff will grow and flourish anywhere. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Daimler AG (DIA) and Bayer AG (BAY) are studying the use of the plant. Folks, this is huge. Why?
ADM is going to study the conversion into biodiesel, Daimler is going to study its interaction with car engines and Bayer is going to produce herbicides, insecticides and fungicides for Jatropha plants. Essentially we have farm to engine collarborative here.
Jatropha is resistant to drought and pests, and produces seeds containing up to 40% oil. When the seeds are crushed and processed, the resulting oil can be used in a standard diesel engine, while the residue can also be processed into biomass to power electricity plants. The best part is that because it is so hardy, it can be planted on lands that currently do not have agricultural uses (barren land), bypassing the "food vs fuel" debate.
In a statement, the companies said, "Biodiesel derived from Jatropha nut kernels has properties similar to those of biofuels obtained from oilseed rapes. It is also characterised by a positive CO2 balance and can thus contribute to protecting the climate."
Now, is this going to affect ADM in 2008? No. But the big thing is this is a plant that can be grown in the US Southwest in lands currently uncultivated due to their climate. This is a long term story and as time goes by, its significance will grow dramatically.
Disclosure: Long ADM.