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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES FROM PLANTS OF WESTERN GHATS (TAMIL NADU, INDIA)

Authors
item Augustus, G D P - V.H.N.S.N. COLLEGE, INDIA
item Jayabalan, M - V.H.N.S.N. COLLEGE, INDIA
item Seiler, Gerald

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 31, 2002
Publication Date: February 1, 2003
Citation: AUGUSTUS, G.D.P.S., JAYABALAN, M., SEILER, G.J. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES FROM PLANTS OF WESTERN GHATS (TAMIL NADU, INDIA). BIOMASS AND BIOENERGY. 2003. V. 24. 437-444.

Interpretive Summary: There is a renewed interest in evaluating plant species as alternative sources of non-conventional energy since the fossil fuels are quickly being depleted. Solar energy is converted into a wide variety of by-products by green plants that are competitive with synthetic petrochemicals, especially plants containing secondary metabolites such as oil and hydrocarbon, that are attractive alternate energy and chemical sources. Utilization of whole-plant oils as an alternative source of conventional oils and major industrial feedstocks is gaining greater importance throughout the world. Many plants from various parts of the world remain to be evaluated for their potential as possible energy producing plants. There has not been a systematic study of plant species of India listing their potential as an alternative sources of energy, hydrocarbon, and other phytochemicals. Therefore, there is a need to screen and identify potential species from the Western Ghats (Courtallum to Srivilliputhur, Reserve Forests). This area exemplifies a tropical forest area possessing rich and voluminous flora with about 1100 species out of a possible 2000 species of South India. The objective of this study was to evaluate 22 species of plants for extractable oil, polyphenol, hydrocarbon, protein, heat content, and carbon and hydrogen fractions. The highest oil content was observed in Aganosma cymosa with 10.3%. The highest polyphenol was observed in Dodonaea viscosa with 17.1%, while the highest hydrocarbon yield was observed in Carissia carandas with 1.7%. Plants of Swietenia mahagoni yielded the highest protein content with 8.1%. The highest gross heat value was found in Lochnera rosea with 4112 calories per gram, exceeding the heat value of lignite coal. Several new species were identified with potentially useful compounds and are potential candidates for further study as energy sources. The potential exists for growing these alternate crops in areas of underutilized lands, subsequently stimulating industrial and economic growth.

Technical Abstract: Twenty-two taxa of Western Ghats plants were screened as potential alternative crops for renewable energy, oil, hydrocarbon and phytochemicals. The highest hydrocarbon yields were observed in Carissa carandas (1.7%), and Jatropha gossypifolia (1.7%). The highest polyphenol fraction was observed in Dodonaea viscosa (17.1%), Carissa carandas (7.7%), Swietenia mahagoni (6.6%), and Jatropha glandulifera (6.2%). The highest oil content was observed in Aganosma cymosa ( 10.3%), Carissa carandas (5.8%), and Argemone mexicana (5.0%). Swietenia mahagoni yielded the highest protein content with 8.1%. The gross heat value of 14175.0 cal/g for Lochnera rosea (pink flowered var.), and 4112.0 cal/g for Dalbergia sissoo were the highest among the species analyzed. NMR spectra of the hydrocarbon fractions of Alstonia scholaris, Carissa carandas, Ichnocarpus frutescens, Plumeria rubra, Thevetia neriifolia (White flowered var.), Vallaris solanacea, Lochnera rosea (pink flowered var.), Euphorbia hirta, E. splendens, Artocarpus integrifolia and Ficus religiosa revealed the presence of cis-polyisoprene (natural rubber), whereas Argemone mexicana showed the presence of trans-polyisoprene (gutta). Several new crop species were identified with potentially useful compounds. The potential exists for growing these alternate crops in areas of underutilized lands, subsequently stimulating industrial and economic growth.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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