Biodiesel from Jatropha plants

Bangladesh, as the creditable figures indicate, has approximately 3.7 million hectares of wasteland.

Only a part of this wasteland of Bangladesh is required to produce enough biodiesel from Jatropha plants to fulfill all the country’s needs.

Jatropha is not a threat to food security. In fact, it is completely inedible. It doesn’t need to be grown in crop land because it can be grown anywhere, even wastelands.

Jatropha is not even consumed by animals so it is an excellent bordering plant between plots to be used to prevent animals from wondering onto and destroying valuable crops. Its leaves also enrich the soil as the fall. It also can be planted along riverbanks and coastlines to prevent erosion.

Jatropha begins to produce fruit from the second year after plantation and continues to produce fruit for 50 years without replanting. The process of expressing the oil from its seeds is similar to that of mustard oil expression and therefore it is not cost intensive.

Other advantages are: Jatropha can be grown in less productive areas, shallow fields, rocky terrains and areas with scanty or excess rainfall. Jatropha is even grown in the Sahara desert. Animals do not consume Jatropha, hence it could be used on mass level to improvise barren lands. Jatropha can be easily grown from stem and seeds. It grows extremely fast.

Within two years of plantation, it starts to produce seeds and keeps on producing until the age of 50 years. From one hectare of plantation, depending on density and quantity, 3-10 tonnes of Jatropha seeds for crushing into oil or biodiesel can be obtained.
Jatropha is a plant with many uses, its skin produces tannin, and various parts have different medicinal properties. The oil produced by Jatropha seeds has various medicinal properties. The latex of Jatropha contains an element jatrophene which is ‘Anti-Cancerous’. The extract from the leaves is used to cure piles and raw leaves help in cleaning teeth and other dental problems. Jatropha oil is strongest substitute for diesel.

Apart from this, it is used for producing soap, candles and cosmetics. While burning, Jatropha does not emit fumes, hence in rural areas it is used for lighting purposes. In China Jatropha oil is used for making varnish. In India, railways use Jatropha fuel to fulfill approximately 20% of the annual needs of diesel. The skin and leaves of Jatropha are used in making dye.

In Bangladesh, there are many uses for Jatropha. Like in India trains that used to run on conventional diesel can be switched to biodiesel obtained from the seeds of Jatropha plants.

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