Free Plants Used In Biofuel Production Essay Sample
Rapeseed or Canola (Brassica napus)
Figure 1. Canola plantation (adapted from Canola Council of Canada)
B. napus was originally cultivated in ancient Asian and Mediterranean civilizations. Varieties that are within the set standards of eruric acid and glucosinolates are referred to as canola. They are widely cultivated around the world, with the global top producers including the European Union, Canada, USA, Australia, China, and India. It can tolerate cold weather with temperatures as low as -2°C, but only when more than a month old (seedlings are killed or injured at very low temperatures). It can grow in many types of soil but grows best in well-drained, neutral to alkaline and fertile soil. Copious amounts of sunlight and cool nights are optimal for plant growth and dry weather for harvesting (Plants for a Future).
Corn or Maize (Zea mays L.)
Figure 2. Corn field (adapted from Pennings)
Corn or maize is a grass that originated in Mexico or Central America but is now grown worldwide in warm temperate and tropical regions. The world's top producers are USA, China, and Brazil, accounting for more than 75% of the world's corn yields. Optimum temperature for growth is 20-30°C. It requires well-drained, fertile loam soils (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization; Ranum, Peña-Rosas, and Garcia-Casal 105).
Soybean (Glycine max)
Figure 3. Soybean plant (adapted from Piku)
Soybean is a legume that is native to East Asia and is widely cultivated in many countries around the world, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. The top producers of soybean are Brazil, USA, Argentina, China, and India, and they represent more than 90% of the world's soybean production (Masuda and Goldsmith 145). It requires high moisture in its early stages and dry weather for ripening and grows optimally at temperatures from 20-30°C. Soybean can grow in a wide range of soils but grow best in moist, well-drained, and fertile loam soils with pH 6 to 6.8 (Albert).
Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.)
Figure 4. Sugarcane plantation (adapted from Team Abg Power)
Sugarcane plants are native to the warm temperate and subtropical regions of South Asia but are widely cultivated in more than 100 countries around the world. The main sugarcane producers worldwide are Brazil, China, Mexico, India, Australia, Thailand, USA, and Pakistan. Sugarcane requires high temperatures and large amounts of sunlight and water. They grow best in deep, fertile, and well-aerated soil (Verheye; Sugar Industry Biotech Council).
Physic nut (Jatropha curcas L.)
Figure 5. Physic nut plant (adapted from McDermott)
Physic nut can be found in the wild or in semi-cultivated areas in Central and South America, India, Africa, and South East Asia habitat, mostly in tropical and subtropical areas. It grows best in hot climates and is well adapted to arid and semi-arid environments, but it can tolerate low temperatures as well. It is drought-resistant and can grow on almost any type of soil except on waterlogged lands (Kumar and Sharma 2-3).
The rising costs and demand for fuel, dwindling resources, and detrimental impacts to the environment and human health have led to the search for alternative energy sources such as biofuels (Xie et al. 2509). Biofuels are derived from plant or animal sources and are projected to have great importance in the next few decades. The plants listed in the first part of this paper are all promising sources of biofuel and they are continually being studied for yield efficiency through various mechanisms and economic feasibility.
One important guideline of choosing plant species as sources for biofuel is that the parts to be used in the production process must not be used as food. Plants of high economic value such as corn and sugarcane leave unutilized biomass known as cellulosic materials that are great candidates as raw materials (Ranum et al. 108). However, canola and soybeans, whose oils are used in various industries, pose dilemmas in their being used as biofuel source. The physic nut is a great candidate for biofuel production due to its great adaptability and its status as a non-major food crop (Kumar and Sharma 2).
Biofuel technology is still considered to be in its infancy, and the search for more efficient production processes and economically stable raw materials is still underway. The importance of plants in this regard is made even more apparent through extensive research.
Albert, Steve. "How to Grow Soybean." Harvest to Table. 17 May 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.harvesttotable.com/2009/05/how_to_grow_soybean/>
Canola Council of Canada. "Fields." n.d. Web. 14 April 2015. <http://ws373847.websoon.com/gallery/715/fields.aspx?photo=1>
Kumar, Ashwani and Satyawati Sharma. "An evaluation of multipurpose oil seed crop for industrial uses (Jatropha curcas L.): A review." Industrial Crops and Products 28.1 (2008): 1-10. Print.
Masuda, Tadayoshi and Peter Goldsmith. "World Soybean and Production: Area Harvested, Yield, and Long-Term Projections." International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 12.4 (2009): 143-162. Print.
McDermott, Mat. "GM Investigating Frost-Tolerant Jatropha For US Market - Partners With Indian Research Co. & DoE." treehugger, 14 April 2010. Web. April 14 2015. <http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/gm-investigating-frost-tolerant-jatropha-for-us-market-partners-with-indian-research-co-doe.html>
Pennings, Pleuni. "Genmaïs en onderbuikargumenten." GASTBLOGGER. Science Palooza, 16 May 2009. Web. 14 April 2015. <http://www.sciencepalooza.nl/2009/05/genmais-en-onderbuikargumenten/>
Piku, Ephrii L. "Exotic Herbs and Plants in Mao Naga Cuisine - Part I." 15 May 2013. Web. 14 April 2015. <http://eiferpiku.blogspot.com/2013/05/exotic-herbs-and-plants-in-mao-naga_15.html>
Ranum, Peter, Peña-Rosas, Juan Pablo and Maria Nieves Garcia-Casal. "Global maize production, utilization, and consumption." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1312 (2014): 105-112. Print.
Sugar Industry Biotech Council. "Frequently Asked Questions." SIBC, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sugarindustrybiotechcouncil.org/sugar-beet-faq>
Team Abg Power. "Ladang Bro Sani" 30 November 2011. Web. 14 April 2015. <http://seraipower.blogspot.com/2011/11/ladang-bro-sani.html>
UN FAO. "Zea mays L." FAO/CIAT, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/Gbase/data/pf000342.htm>
Verheye, Willy. "Growth and Production of Sugarcane." Soils, Plant Growth and Crop Production. Ed. Willy Verheye. Vol. II. UK: EOLSS Publishers Co., Ltd., 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c10/e1-05a-22-00.pdf>
Xie, J. et al. "Bioethanol Production from Sugarcane Grown in Heavy Metal-Contaminated Soils." BioResources 9.2 (2014): 2509-2520. Print.
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