Chapter 11: Jatropha curcas: A Source of Energy and Other Applications
Published:16 Dec 2010
The environmental pollution associated with the use of fossil fuels has led to worldwide interest in the production of biofuels. The main commodity source for biodiesel can be non-edible oils obtained from plant species such as Jatropha curcas (Ratanjyot), Pongamia pinnata (Karanj) etc. Among all the oil bearing crops, recently, Jatropha a drought resistant, multipurpose, perennial plant living up to 50 years, has emerged as the focal point for the biofuel industry with rapid R&D investments. Primary issues favoring Jatropha over other crops are its non-food nature, reported ability to grow on waste lands and tolerance to high temperatures. Jatropha has also been reported to play an important role in carbon sequestration along with wasteland reclamation. The interest in J. curcas as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel is rapidly growing. It has long been used around the world as a source of lamp oil and soap and also as a hedging plant. Jatropha oil cake is rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus can be used as organic manure. The presence of toxic components in Jatropha seed also provides a use in biopesticide formulations. Nonetheless, all parts of the plant have traditional medicinal uses (both human and veterinary purposes) that are being investigated. Here, the current status of studies on Jatropha worldwide on various aspects such as its taxonomy, botanical description, distribution, ecological requirement, propagation methods, crop improvement applying genetic/molecular approaches, and its potential in the energy sector, wasteland reclamation and for other applications is reviewed and compiled. Detailed information about the presence of various chemicals including toxins in different parts of the plant is summarized. Aspects related to its energy balance and energy flow, environmental effect (CDM) and its economics have also been dealt with.