Volume 16, Number 4-5-6, Juillet-Décembre 2009Lipides tropicaux (Actes des Journées Chevreul de l'AFECG 2009)
|Page(s)||236 - 240|
|Published online||15 July 2009|
Biofuels from Jatropha curcas oil – Perspectives for tropical regions
University of Hohenheim, Institute for Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, Fruwirthstrasse 12, 70599
Almost 40% of the world’s population of 6,7 billion people do not have access to affordable energy resources and drinking water of acceptable quality. But nothing is more important than the alleviation of hunger. The number of hungry people, according to the newest FAO statistics, has risen to close to one billion in 2008. Therefore, special attention needs to be given to research in food and agriculture. To this stock of global problems new challenges are added through the increase in human population of 80 million persons a year and the concomitant loss of large areas of former fertile agricultural land, mostly in the poorest countries. Jatropha curcas is the most primitive member of the large genus Euphorbiaceae. The name is derived from the Greek iatros (doctor) and trophe (food). Jatropha curcas is a perennial plant, native and widely spread throughout the tropics. It is not grazed by animals, grows readily on degraded lands, is drought and to some extent disease resistant. It is a multipurpose plant. There are two genotypes of Jatropha curcas, a toxic and a non-toxic one. The latter genotype is found in Mexico only. Well developed dry seeds from Jatropha curcas weigh between 650- 750 mg and contain 30-35% of oil that is suitable for conversion into biodiesel of high quality by the conventional, proven processes. The kernel forms around 65% of the seeds. The de-oiled kernel meal has a crude protein content of between 58% and 60% and a favourable amino acid profile. Extracts of the toxic genotype provide chemicals with potential in medicinal, pharmaceutical and bio-pesticide application. In contrast to other fossil fuel alternatives, like biofuels from food crops such as maize, soybean, sugar cane and palm, bioenergy from Jatropha curcas grown on wasteland incurs no carbon debt and thus, offers immediate and sustained greenhouse gas advantages. Potential benefits of large scale Jatropha plantations on degraded land are expected to be : availability of CO2 neutral fuel in remote rural areas ; potential availability of high protein concentrates and biofertilizer locally ; wasteland reclamation for food production ; carbon sequestration for emission trading ; employment generation and socioeconomic development for impoverished farmers and rural labourers. Because of the wild nature of the plant, productivity reports vary considerably from less than 100 kg to more than 10.000 kg of seeds per ha. This huge variation is of importance from a breeder’s point of view for future selection and breeding programmes. Such programmes coupled with the development of agronomical practices, are essential prerequisites for economic exploitation to give Jatropha curcas a bright future.
Key words: biofuel / Jatropha curcas / hunger
© John Libbey Eurotext 2009
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