I just received an interesting report about using Jatropha bushes for biodiesel production titled: “Best Practices For Long-Term Jatropha Development., A Position paper by KnowGenix.
Jatropha Curcas is being heavily planted for harvesting of it nuts to produce biodiesel. Jatropha has been the buzzword on the lips of many biofuel investors, Government Officials and researchers. The potential this plant has as an environmentally friendly and socially aware source of Biodiesel is astounding. As Jatropha is poised on the brink of commercialization, Jatropha investors have stepped up their efforts to develop a viable source of biodiesel, and some are already well on the road to success.
Check out the Chemically Green comment section where comments on investment opportunities for Jatropha Curcas have been received.
Biodiesel derived from Jatropha is fast becoming recognized as a viable source of alternative fuel to meet the rising fuel demands of countries around the world. As technological developments stand today, Jatropha has the potential to serve as fuel to power automobiles, combined heat and power (CHP) plants and cooking stoves, just to name a few.
Mediocre Results Obtained when Jatropha is not maintained properly.
However, with so many new projects coming up, and a lack of RELIABLE information, many projects are only achieving mediocre results. Plagued with funding troubles, poor plantation management, and lack of understanding of the Jatropha Curcas plant, many projects are not performing at optimal productivity.
Knowing where to place your Jatropha project is critical, and requires a holistic view of certain key criteria for site selection. These include agro-climatic conditions, availability of labor, logistical consideration and local legislation.
The Jatropha Curcas L plant is an ‘energy species’, but it needs to be domesticated as a ‘tree crop’ for widespread commercial cultivation and application.
In order to achieve maximum commercial performance, it is crucial to understand the crop’s requirements, predict its possible interactions with the environment and develop practices for industrial cultivation.
Most reported information on Jatropha Curcas does not give the whole picture and some of the major requirements for maintaining Jatropha Curcas.
1. True or False: Jatropha will grow in just about any dry or poor soil and takes little maintenance.
To get maximum yields from Jatropha, the soil must be cultivated, prepared and properly maintained for maximum fruit yields and more than one yearly crop. If planted in poor soil conditions, Jatropha will yield poor production or no production at all. Though reported to grow on marginal soils and land, Jartopha really needs decent quality land for maximum crop yields which will maintain any project for growing Jartropha.
2. True or False: Jatropha requires little water and will grow well even in drought conditions.
The use of water is the most important criteria for growing Jatropha. If sustainable fruit yields and several harvest per year are desired from Jatropha, the grown plants must be irrigated on a regular basis. In critical areas of water supply, the impact of indiscriminate removal of ground water in fragile ecosystems will have to be studied and appropriate actions taken to keep from depleting water supply during irrigation. Claims that Jatropa can grown in drought conditions or low rainfall areas is proving to be false and experience has shown Jatropha needs higher levels of water for optimum yields.
3. True of False: Jatropha is labor intensive for harvesting fruits.
Jatropha bushes are real compact and the fruits have to be picked by hand. Mechanical harvesting would damage the bush. Because Jatropha is such a compact bush, plant maintenance is labor intensive.
4. True or False: Jatropha contains toxins that might be harmful to man.
Jatropha contains a chemical toxin similar to Ricin, Curcin.
Main Toxins of Jatropha. MAIN TOXINS: Curcin – a phytotoxin (toxalbumin), found mainly in the seeds and also in the fruit and sap. Purgative oil – the seed yields 40% oil, known as hell oil, pinheon oil, oleum infernale or oleum ricini majoris, which contains small amounts of an irritant curcanoleic acid, which is related to ricinoleic acid and crotonoleic acid, the principle active ingredients of castor oil and croton oil respectively (Joubert et al., 1984). OTHER TOXINS: This genera also may contain hydrocyanic acid (CRC Critical Reviews in Toxicology 1977). There may be a dermatitis producing resin (Lampe & Fagerstrom, 1968). There may be an alkaloid, and a glycoside which produce cardiovascular and respiratory depression. Tetramethylpyrazine (TMPZ), an amide alkaloid has been obtained from the stem of J. podagrica (Ojewole & Odebiyi, 1981). Atropine-like effects have also been reported following ingestion of Jatropha multifida (Aplin 1976). For more details, please visit here
5. True or False: Jatropha Curcas has been used for medicines and possibly treatment of cancer tumors.
6. True or False: Millions of Dollars are being invested for growing Jatropha.
Check out CG previous post: Jatropha Curcas Update.
7. True or False: Many developing countries are working with Jatropha for new income sources.
8. True or False: Jatropha Curcas can be grown in many habitats through out the world.
Check out CG previous post: Jatropha Curcas Update.
9. TRUE OR FALSE: The meal left over from the Jatropha seeds after oil extraction make a good fertilizer for recycling.
True. The Meal after extraction an excellent organic manure (38%Protien N:P:K ration 2.7:1.2:1).
So what are the major considerations for growing Jatropha Curcas and other plants (Palm) for biodiesel?
To ensure sustained use of water supplies, land and natural resources, the development of biofuels must be planned, managed and maintained. Ecosystems and Rainforests through out the world, that are being destroyed for the sake of biofuels, must be stopped. Other major considerations are land competition for food vs. biofuel production, considerations on habitat destruction and animal species, availability of water, pollution of lands with fertilizers which can lead to soil erosion, safety of people who harvest phytoproducts for biofuel production and issues of developing large massive plants instead of small localized plants near the crops that will be used to manufacture biofuels.
Jatropha Curcas looks like it will be a main factor in the race to produce biodiesel.