PRODUCTIVTY OF CALOTROPIS PROCERA IN SEMI-ARID REGIONS OF RAJASTHAN AND ITS USE AS
RENEWABLE SOURCE OF ENERGY
Ashwani Kumar, V.R. Kumar
Energy Plantation Demonstration project and Biotechnology Center.
Department of Botany, University of Rajasthan,
Jaipur – 302004, India.
ABSTRACT India has over 180 million of wasteland out of which 90 million ha is uncultivable. The degraded and denuded lands arise
due to soil erosions as well as secondary salinizations. However Calotropis procera is a potential plant for bioenergy and biofuel
production in semi arid regions of the country because it is able to grow on such lands. The plant has a growth potential of 2 dry tones
to 40 dry tones per ha depending on the agro climatic conditions of it’s growth. The plant has high level of regeneration potential and
could be harvested up to 4 times a year. The plant yields valuable hydrocarbons which could be converted into diesel substitutes. The
bio-diesel derived from Calotropis procera is free from NOx gases, S02 and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and has high cetane
value. Due to it’s enormous potential for growth under adverse climatic conditions Calotropis procera is suggested as potential plant
for bio-diesel production under semi-arid and arid conditions.
Keywords Calotropis procera, Calotropis gigantean, Semi-arid regions, Biomass and Biofuel, Hydrocarbons.
India has varied agroclimatic zones which have wide range of
temperature, humidity, rainfall and soil conditions. Growth
and productivity of plant depends upon a large number of
edaphic, nutritional and environmental factors. This is more
important in respect to laticiferous plants whose growth is
influenced significantly by soil composition.
Even by liberal estimates these fossilized fuel resourceare not
going to last longer . Calotropis procera is a potential energy
resource, containing latex, an emulsion of oil and water. The
oil fraction looks, feels and acts like crude oil (1). The latex is
converted into petroleum like substances by using hydrocracking
in presence of zeolite catalysts (1). By some of the
estimates majority of the compound in latex consists of
terpenoids and sugars.
The Calotropis procera is widely distributed in Western
Rajasthan while Calotropis gigantea is found mostly under
cultivated conditions near temples in Jaipur, Bharatpur,
Udaipur, Bhilwara, Banswara division with relatively
moderate climatic conditions.
The occurrence of Calotropis species is related to the climatic
conditions. Calotropis procera growing in Jaisalmer assumes
gigantic proportions and people mistakenly identify it as C.
gigantea. It is generally not present on good soil except when
raised at places of worship. Calotropis gigantea is commonly
worshiped plant and is found in Shiv temples. The growth and
productivity was determined Detailed survey was carried out
in different parts of Rajasthan and growth and productivity of
Calotropis procera was studied.
2 THE PLANT
Calotropis procera (Asclepiadaceae) is a wild shrub, which
grows up to a height of 1-3 m and its leaves are 10–13 cm
wide by 17–19 cm long. Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br.
commonly known, as ‘Akra’ is a popular medicinal plant
found throughout the tropics of Asia and Africa and is used in
many traditional systems of medicine. Important factors of the
various parts of this plant have been widely reported.
The plant is one of the most abundantly available plants in the
semi-arid and arid conditions of the country. It is an
important member of traditional herbal medicine in every
home of India. Traditionally the leaves of aak are warmed
and tied around any body organ in pain. It practically useful
in backache and in joint pains, warm leaves also relieve from
stomachache if tied around. Inhalation of burnt leaf cures
headache. The traditional folk healers use the milky latex of
aak for several ailments. Leaf latex if applied on fresh cut,
stops bleeding immediately. Recent investigations have been
found that the alkaloids calotropin, calotaxein and uskerin is
stimulant to heart. Flowers and roots are used in Ayurvedic
medicine. Plant is anthelmintic, the ashes act as an
expectorant. the leaves are applied hot to the abdomen to cure
the pain inside. flower is tonic, antisialagogue, appetizer., and
cures stomachache piles and asthma. Flowers are believed to
have detergent properties so they are given in cholera. The
fresh roots are used as a toothbrush and are considered by
pathans to cure toothache. Aak is an alternative, tonic and
diaphoretic, in large dose emetic. The plant produces latex in
the laticifers. It has been established that laticifer
differentiation in vitro is a cytokinin-dependent process and
among the cytokinins, FAP was more effective than BA and
2-iP on MS medium supplemented with 4·6 μ M FAP and 1μ
M IAA. A literature survey of Calotropis procera revealed
that the plant contains mainly cardenolides besides steroids
and triterpenes. From the hexane-insoluble fraction of this
plant a new free cardenolide named proceragenin has been
isolated. The medicinal importance of Calotropis procera
prompted the studies on pharma-cological screening of the
antibacterial and anti-aggregating activities of proceragenin.
Procesterol, a new steroidal hydroxy ketone, has been isolated
from the fresh and undried flowers of Calotropis procera. The
chemical and spectral studies identified it as a C-6 C-24
diepimer of stigmast-4-en-6 ß-ol-3-one (1, 2, 3) .
3 MATERIALS AND METHODS
During the present investigation Calotropis procera (Ait) R.
Br. of family Asclepiadaceae was screened for the organic
extractables using extraction procedure. The plant material
was collected from different parts of Rajasthan including
Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Alwar, Bhartpur etc. Samples from different
14th European Biomass Conference, 17-21 October 2005, Paris, France