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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower and Plant Biology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #142316


item Seiler, Gerald

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/31/2002
Publication Date: 12/31/2002
Citation: Augustus, G.S., Jayabalan, M., Seiler, G.J. 2002. Evaluation and bioinduction of energy components of Jatropha curcas. Biomass and Bioenergy. 23:161-164.

Interpretive Summary: Vast areas of land (around 42%) in India are represented by arid and semi-arid conditions. Jatropha curcas is native to tropical America and naturalized throughout tropical and subtropical parts of Asia and Africa. In India, it is found in semi - wild conditions and grows in fields. Goats or cattle do not browse the plants. It has few insect or fungal pests and is not a host to many diseases that attack agricultural plants. It can be successfully cultivated both in irrigated and rainfed conditions. The plants grow quickly forming a thick bushy fence in a short period of time of six to nine months, and growing to heights of four meters with thick branches in two to three years. The plant is valued for its rich oil high in fats known in the trade as curcas oil obtained from the seeds. Its oil can be used in place of kerosene and diesel and as a substitute for fuel wood. It can be used as a lubricant, illuminant, for soap and the candle industry. The use of the oil for soap making may be one of its most profitable uses. When mixed with iron oxide, it can be used as a varnish. It has also been promoted to make rural areas self sufficient in fuels for cooking, lighting and motive power. Jatropha curcas can tolerate high temperatures and grows very well under low fertility and moisture conditions. Considering its wide spectrum of utility and the prospects of it growing in wastelands without competing with other crops, J. curcas was selected for investigation of its gross heat value, fatty acid composition, and the influence of growth regulators on the yield of extractable chemicals in the seeds. Jatropha seeds contained 19.0% oil, 4.7% polyphenol, and 3.9% hydrocarbon. The seed oil has a low viscosity compared to castor oil. The gross heat values of the seed, oil fraction, and hydrocarbon fraction indicates that it could be used as an intermediate energy source. The gross heat values of the seed was 4980 cal/g, which is higher than well known natural fossil fuels such as lignite coal, cattle manure and comparable to the heat value of corn cobs. The gross heat value of the oil fraction was 9036 cal/g, which is higher than the value for anthracite coal and comparable to that of crude oil. The oil contained a high percentage of monounsaturated oleic and polyunsaturated linoleic acid indicating it has a semi-drying property, hence, it may be potentially useful for the surface coating industry. In addition, the oil also contained a higher concentration of unsaturated fatty acids than saturated ones, and when combined with oxygen and exposed to the air forms a hard film, characteristic of ¿drying oils¿. It appears the hydrocarbon yields can be increased using ethephon and morphactin growth hormones. If the full potential of this species is to realized, much more research is required looking into the growing of this species in large-scale plantations and more information is needed on the actual and potential markets for all its products.

Technical Abstract: Jatropha curcas is a multipurpose species with many attributes and considerable potential. The oil from the seeds is potentially the most valuable end product. Nearly 40% of the land area in India is wasteland. However, a large number of latex bearing and oil yielding plants can grow under such unfavorable climatic conditions. Jatropha curcas, a Euphorbiaceae grows well under such adverse climatic conditions because of its low moisture demands, fertility requirements, and tolerance to high temperatures. The seed contains 19.0% oil, 4.7% polyphenol, and 3.9% hydrocarbon. This semi-drying oil could be an efficient substitute for diesel fuel. The gross heat value for the seed (0% moisture content) was 4980 cal/g, oil was 9036 cal/g , and hydrocarbon was 9704 cal/g. The oil consists of two saturated fatty acids, palmitic acid (14.1%), stearic acid (6.7%) and unsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid (47.0%), and linoleic acid (31.6%). Treatment of plants with growth regulators significantly influenced the production of hydrocarbons. Among the treatments, ethephon and morphactin induced the maximum production of hydrocarbon with 5.0% and 5.4%, respectively. If the full potential of the species is to be realized, much more research will be required looking into the growing of this species in large scale plantations and more information about on the actual and potential markets for its many products.