SOME POTENTIAL BIOFUEL PLANTS FOR SEMI-ARID AND ARID REGIONS AND IMPROVING THEIR GROWTH AND PRODUCTIVITY Anita Kumari and Ashwani Kumar Bio-Technology Lab,Department of Botany University of Rajasthan, Jaipur - 302 004, India. Engery Plantation Demonstration project and Biotechnology Center. E-mail: ABSTRACT : Concern over the growing levels of greenhouse gases and climate change has been building up for the last decade. Any measure or project reducing the release of greenhouse gases would get a “credit”, regardless of the location of such measure or project since climate is a global phenomenon. The dependence of over 70 percent population in India on the biomass for their daily energy needs has accelerated the depletion of forest resources which according to some estimates now stand as low as 10 percent of the total area. At present there is hardly 0.4 percent forest below 25cm rainfall zone and 1.3 percent above 30 cm rainfall zone. At present there is hardly 0.4 percent forest below 25cm rainfall zone and 1.3 percent above 30 cm rainfall zone. Laticiferous plants with their rich hydrocarbon contents offer such potential plant systems which on one hand, due to their water conversion ability they thrive on limited amount of water, produce sufficient biomass and are unpalatable to the cattle folk due to their sticky latex. Degraded and denunded soils are no hindrance to their growth. During the present investigations a account of possible bio-fuel plants from semi-arid and arid regions shall be presented. 1 INTRODUCTION Biomass is renewable source of Energy and is produced annually in amounts greater than the annual global requirement of the biomass. The main sources of biomass can be classified in two groups one is waste materials including those derived from agriculture, forestry and municipal wastes 1, 2, 3. Assessing the total above ground biomass, defined as biomass, when expressed as dry weight per unit area, either total biomass or by components (eg. leaves, branches and bole), is a useful way of quantifying the amount of resource available for traditional uses. Most plant species are herbaceous in nature and appear during rainy season. They are the first colonizers & are generally herb, which have important uses 4, 5. Biomass can be converted in to solid, liquid and gaseous forms through biological thermochemical route for deriving thermal electrical and mechanical forms of energy. Thus biomass offers multiple options for transition from the use of conventional, exhaustible and polluting forms to nonconventional, renewable, non-exhaustible, non polluting and perennial forms so as to ensure sustained growth and economic development 6,7,8. Some herbaceous and shrub plants are also important for biomass production in the form of Bioenergy 9,10,11,12,13. Beside the solid biomass some plant species are important for liquid biomass in form of hydrocarbon and non edible oil production, which provides an alternative source of petroleum 14, 15, 16. Present studies were conducted on characterization of bioenergy resources in the semi arid region of Rajasthan because the growing demand for fuel wood as a result of rapid population growth has made it increasingly difficult for many people in this region to meet their basic energy need. 2 METHODOLOGY 2.1 Solid Biomass Collection of plant species in all the seasons was carried out and three replicates were taken. The fresh weight and dry weight was recorded. 2.2 Extraction of hydrocarbons The determination of hydrocarbon content was made following17 the same procedure was employed for extraction of hydrocarbons (biocrude) by using solvent methanol and hexane in the soxhlet apparatus. The methanolic extracts (60°C) were collected after 18 h. The hexane (55°C) extractables were also collected after 18 h, respectively. 2.3 Extraction of non-edible oil Non edible oils were estimated following18. Non-edible oil yielding plants were selected for the study. For the extraction of non edible oil, seeds were collected and dried. After drying a fine powder was made which was placed in a thimble Whatman filter paper no. 1. Ten gram of powder was placed in each thimble. Extraction was done by using solvent petroleum ether in a soxhlet apparatus at 40°C to 50°C for about 30 h. The petroleum ether extractable was collected after 30 h, and excess of solvent was removed by distillation at 45°C. The fractions were transferred to the previously weighed flask and were finally dried at 40°C for 24h or till the weights become constant for determination of oil. 3 RESULTS 3.1 Solid Biomass The characterization of plant diversity was another aspect of study on plant community. 130 plant species were recorded. Out of the out of which 40 plant species were selected for biomass production in their natural habitat. Plants were collected from studied areas in natural condition. Three replicates of each plant were collected and their fresh and dry weights were recorded in each season. Out of the 40 plants following plant species were suitable for biomass production due to their high dry matter contents. These plants included (weights in g/plant) Verbesina encelioides (Cav.) Benth. & Hk.: 80.33; Calotropis procera (Ait) R.Br.: 648.33; Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Forsk.) Decne: 486.66; Sericostoma pauciflorum Stocks: 352.66; Amaranthus spinosus Linn: 167.66; Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal. : 350; Lepidagathis trinervis Wall. ex Nees: 204; Lantana indica Roxb.: 373.33; Aerva tomentosa (Burm.) Juss: 283.33; Croton bonplandianum Baill: 155.33; Abutilon indicum (L.) Sweet: 1453.33; Acacia jacquemontii Benth: 693.33; Crotalaria 279 14th European Biomass Conference, 17-21 October 2005, Paris, France