Jatropha A Viable Alternative Renewable EnergyThe long term dream of the industrial engineers is to discover an affordable and cleanerburning alternative energy source.Constantly the biodiesel industry is looking for some alternative to produce renewableenergy. Biodiesel prepared from canola, sunflower and jatropha can replace or becombined with traditional diesel. During first half of 2000’s jatropha biofuel made theheadlines as a very popular and promising alternative. It is prepared from jatropha curcas,a plant species native to Central America that can be grown on wasteland.Jatropha Curcas is a non edible plant that grows in the arid regions. The plant grows veryquickly and it can yield seeds for about 50 years. The oil got from its seeds can be used asa biofuel. This can be mixed with petroleum diesel. Previously it has been used twicewith algae combination to fuel test flight of commercial airlines.Another positive approach of jatorpha seeds is that they have 37% oil content and theycan be burned as a fuel without refining them. It is also used for medical purpose.Supporters of jatropha biodiesel say that the flames of jatropha oil are smoke free andthey are successfully tested for simple diesel engines.Jatropha biodiesel as Renewable Energy Investment has attracted the interest of manycompanies, which have tested it for automotive use. Jatropha biodiesel has been roadtested by Mercedes and three of the cars have covered 18,600 miles by using the jatrophaplant biodiesel.
Since it is because of some drawbacks, the jatropha biodiesel have not considered as awonderful renewable energy. The biggest problem is that no one knows that what exactlythe productivity rate of the plant is. Secondly they don’t know how large scale cultivationmay affect the soil quality and the environment as a whole. The jatropha plant needs fivetimes more water per energy than corn and sugarcane. This raises another issue. On theother hand it is to be noted that jatropha can grow on tropical climates with annualrainfall of about 1000 to 1500 mm. A thing to be noted is that jatropha needs properirrigation in the first year of its plantation which lasts for decades.Recent survey says that it is true that jatropha can grow on degraded land with little waterand poor nutrition. But there is no evidence for the yield to be high. This may beproportional to the quality of the soil. In such a case it may require high quality of landand may require the same quagmire that is faced by most biofuel types.Jatropha has one main downside. The seeds and leaves of jatropha are toxic to humansand livestock. This made the Australian government to ban the plant in 2006. Thegovernment declared the plant as invasive species, and too risky for western Australianagriculture and the environment here (DAFWQ 2006).While jatropha has stimulating budding, there are number of research challenges remain.The importance of detoxification has to be studied because of the toxicity of the plant.Along side a systematic study of the oil yield have to be undertaken, this is veryimportant because of high yield of jatropha would probably needed before jatropha canbe contributed significantly to the world. Lastly it is also very important to study aboutthe jatropha species that can survive in more temperature climate, as jatropha is verymuch limited in the tropical climates.