Jatropha tree to help produce fuel

Khartoum, April 27 (SUNA) – A study conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Trade suggests that a green leafed bushy tree that grows in the wilderness, and known as Jatropha, could be the resolution for many shortfalls of fuel producing materials, ranging from petroleum to ethanol produced from sugar cane residues.


Hala Ahmed Al-Amin, Head of Studies at Sudan Trade Point, who prepared the study, said that farmers have long complained of the negative impact of the dark-green aggressive Jatropha plant which grows at a phenomenal pace spreading to colonize vital area for food crops planted around it .

Jatropha curcas is shrub or small tree grows to a height of 3-5 meters and sometimes, when suitable climatic conditions prevail , grows  up to  8-10 meters. The tree is affiliated to the herbaceous plants, and its leaves resemble grapes' fruits and its fruit is in the form of a nut,  the size golf  ball, containing seeds that produce bitter taste oil  .

The percentage of oil in the Jatropha seeds is about 35-40% according to the season of ripping .  The oil is not fit for human consumption but could be used to  produce bio-oil as a fuel which burns without hazardous emission in environment-polluted fumes where the oil resulted from Jatropha launches, when it burns,  one fifth of the carbon dioxide produced by petroleum products  .

Jatropha in Sudan is located in several areas including Khartoum State, central Sudan, eastern Sudan (Kasala), western Sudan (Kordufan), but it mainly grows in great  numbers in the South Sudan especially in Bahrel-Jabal and Bahrel-Ghazal  .

The experimental  and pilot project, known as Kutum was launched in North  Darfur with participation of a German research center, was all but success. The pilot project has proved that although Jatropha is an equatorial plan, it still can grow in all types of soils found in the Sudan .   

so with researchers world wide crying that finding  an alternative source of energy is no longer a choice but an evitable and strategic goal most countries are seeking to achieve, the Jatropha shrub might open a new window of hope, that this might not be a source of  worry anymore, theoretically at least .

The Researcher adds that as Sudan possesses vast arable lands, abundant water and crops diversity it might become the giant African country  to produce bio-diesel from  Jatropha shrub  .

She went on to say that the production of ethanol fuel requires high cost because of the need for investing huge areas of lands for producing sorghum (dura), wheat and sugar cane, the crops from which ethanol is produced .

 

However, Jatropha can be grown on the  roadsides,  in the rocky or desert land, which is not set  for cultivation of traditional crops . Some voices were raised recently criticizing huge environmental and social hazards that could be brought by the plantation of huge plots of  lands for producing the row materials necessary for the ethanol production.   She said Sudanese  decision-maker, at the higher levels, should discuss the present and future of this activity in country .

 

The researcher says  a training center for cultivation and  ultimately for manufacturing of the Jatropha  produce must be established to create technical staff in this field .

 

” The Jatropha cultivation should be expanded in the areas of sanitation station, in desert, in  marginalized areas which are not used for the cultivation of food crops," she added  .

 

The researcher stressed that the Jatropha plantation must be a pure  governmental activity as the bio-fuel is an important and vital national resource, recommending the mission of planning and implementation of bio-diesel program from Jatropha to a national institution with an effective participation from the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment And Irrigation  .

The successive and high increases in the prices of oil and energy resulted in  emergence of a number of negative impacts on the agricultural sectors in general and food sector in particular; including augmentation of agricultural machineries’ usage, usage of agricultural chemicals and transporting of products to the markets as
they depend completely on the fuel .

 
Also the bio-fuel resulted in the pollution of environment which  created climate changes particularly the phenomenon of the global warming. The reduction in the level and quality of the fundamental natural resources such as agricultural lands and freshwater .

As the world community has become aware of the hazard brought by the use of
food crop to produce bio-fuel instead of feeding people spurred  the thinking about  how it would be if non food tree is found to produce fuel  and the thought goes to trees that grow in marginal land, and dos not strongly need water, or much care, thus saving time and energy while at the same time producing fuel .

 

 Thus  the bush "Jatropha” represents the most important of these trees, on which
interest began to a large extent, within the framework of a new concept called the project of cultivating energy, which can be an alternative to petroleum-derived fuel, or reduces the degree of dependence upon it  .

In the midst of the spread of research fever for energy alternatives after the rise oil prices, some Indians in the state of Bangalore managed to discover  the true value inherent in the seeds of ''Jatropha'' after  realizing that the process of chemical and
physical processing was enough to turn it into a kind of bio-diesel suitable for operating  vehicle engines  .  

 

One of the main advantages of  Jatropha is that its cultivation needs only a little water, and requires no use of fertilizers. This means that the expansion in its production on a wider scale will not be at the expense of agricultural sources used in the production of traditional food crops  .

Those characteristics are of great significance in  search for security margins and environmental safety for any new source for energy  .

The origin of jatropha curcas is Latin America and from which it spread to a number of dry, semi-dry and equatorial areas in the world particularly American tropical areas and western Asia  .

There are 476 types of  Jatropha, 12 of which are registered in India. The best type of  Jatropha is Jatropha Curcas . Malaysia was the first state in the world  to invest in  Jatropha and extracted oil from it and then it spread to the United States of America, Canada, Europe and the rest of the world’s countries  .

BH/ MA