19 January 2023, Israel: Casterra Ag Ltd. (“Casterra”), the integrated castor cultivation solution company and a subsidiary of Evogene Ltd. (“Evogene”) (Nasdaq: EVGN, TASE: EVGN), announced today that it has entered into an agreement with one of the world’s leading energy companies, whereby Casterra will provide its unique castor varieties and its broad know-how in cultivation of castor at a commercial scale for biofuel production.
Under the framework of the agreement, the initial focus is the purchase agreement of castor seed varieties from Casterra for growing castor in specific African territories and the provision of technical support. The agreement also allows for the potential for long-term cooperation in castor cultivation between this customer and Casterra, with the potential for expansion into additional territories on the African continent.
Biofuels have significant advantages over conventional petrochemical fuels, primarily being a renewable source and biodegradable, with significantly less negative environmental impact than other alternative fuel sources. Under the carbon life-cycle, castor is considered a carbon–neutral fuel, since the emissions linked with its combustion are comparatively similar to the carbon dioxide emissions absorbed during the growth of the source plants. Technically, castor has other important advantages such as inherent lubricity, low toxicity, superior flash point, negligible sulfur content and cleaner exhaust emissions.
Oil derived from the castor bean has further advantages as a source for biofuel over other vegetable oils, due to its higher proportion of energy-rich, fatty hydroxy-acids. Additional advantages making it industrially useful include a low melting point and low solidification point, and castor has the most stable viscosity of any vegetable-derived oils. Furthermore, castor as a crop, poses minimal competition for land with conventional food crops or edible oils, due to its hardiness and tolerance to stresses, and can be cultivated on marginal land areas which otherwise would not be used.
Casterra’s mission is to provide the most genetically advanced castor bean seed varieties, tailored to humanity’s eco-friendly energy needs of today, with a complete comprehensive ag-service solution to castor cultivators and manufacturers. Based on Evogene’s plant genomic capabilities via its GeneRator AI tech-engine, Casterra has developed proprietary castor seed varieties that enable a high-yield and high-quality crop, with oil-rich content that lend themselves well to efficient and industrialized cultivation methods (mechanized harvesting process).
Eyal Ronen, CEO of Casterra, commented, “We are very proud to be supporting a major multinational energy company, one of the world’s seven supermajor oil companies, by providing our advanced castor seed varieties and guiding their activities in the castor cultivation arena. We strongly support the biofuel production based on castor oil, which has been proven to be a highly clean and effective source of renewable energy. This new agreement has significant potential for future growth and strengthens our position in the castor biofuel market.”
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