Jatropha oil: A promising, clean alternative energy

The Jakarta Post, 4 July 2006
by Yuli Tri Suwarni

Discovering an affordable and cleaner burning alternative energy source has long been the dream of industrial chemical engineer Robert Manurung.

Inspired by the difficulty of finding firewood in his hometown in North Sumatra, the 50-year-old native of North Tapanuli set out to find a cheaper energy source.

In the next six months, the Bandung Institute of Technology expert just might realize his dream. Oil produced by the castor-oil plant, known locally as pohon jarak (Jatropha curcas L), which Manurung has been studying for sometime, will on a trial basis replace diesel oil to generate electricity in East Nusa Tenggara.

His discovery, called Jatropha oil, was greeted with pessimism by several colleagues at the institute, some of whom said “it was nothing new”.

Robert Manurung: Inventor of renewable green fuel

Jakarta Post, August 06, 2006
T. Sima Gunawan, Contributor, Jakarta

There is good news and bad news about research development in Indonesia. First, the bad news is that Indonesia often lags behind other countries. And now, the good news: An Indonesian researcher has applied pure jatropha oil as an alternative bio-diesel fuel.

The oil, which is produced from castor oil plants or Jatropha curcas, locally known as jarak pagar, is environmentally friendly and cheaper than fossil fuel, thanks to the hard work of Robert Manurung and his team at the Biotechnology Research Center, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).

“In research development, we are lagging behind other countries because we are often more content to follow rather than to become a leader or innovator,” lamented Manurung, 52.

While other scientists use methanol in processing jatropha oil, Manurung was determined to transform the oil into diesel fuel without adding any additional substance — and he succeeded.