1.1 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.
1.2 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 hydro-cracking in presence of zeolite catalysts (1). By some of the estimates majority of the compound in latex consists of terpenoids and sugars.
1.3 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.
1.4 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:
2.1 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.
2.2 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 M FAP and 1 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 -ol-3-one ( 1,2,3) .
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS
2.1 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 places are under detailed investigation at IIP Dehradun. Here the preliminary results are presented.
2.4 The Calotropis procera was collected from different districts of Rajasthan falling under various agroclimatic conditions and initial investigations on the anatomy, growth and productivity were carried out on naturally occurring plants from the Jaipur districts. Samples from different places are under detailed investigation at IIP Dehradun. Here the preliminary results are presented.
2.5 The plants were cut from the above ground and their fresh weight was determined. The plants were dried in shade for three days or more separately according to their height and fresh weight, till their dry weight become constant. The dried plant material was finally powdered. Ten g. of the powdered plant material was packed in thimbles made from whatman filter paper No. 1.
2.6 The extraction was done using solvent systems in soxhlet apparatus. Initial extraction was done in hexane for 18h. in a soxhlet apparatus at 40-450C. The heptane extractables were collected after 18h and excess of solvent was removed by distillation at 450C. The fractions were transferred to the previously weighed vials and were finally dried at 400C for 24h. or till the weights became constant for determination of bio-crude.
3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS :
3.2 The percent dry weight ranged from 12.05 to 23.45 percent. Maximum total extractable was recorded from the plant having 122 cm. height and fresh weight was 2.4 kg. Maximum percent biocrude of stem was 12.67%.
3.3 Maximum bio-crude obtained from stem was followed by leaves and flowers. Thus the relative distribution of latex was dependent on plant parts utilised.
3.4 The world derives a fifth of its energy from renewable resources - 13-14 percent from biomass and 6 percent from hydro. In the case of biomass this represents about 25 mboe/day (55EJ/year). In developing countries it is the most important source of energy (35 percent of total ) for the three quarters of the worlds population which lives in them. In some developing countries biomass provides 90 percent or more of total energy. First efforts to cultivate hydrocarbon producing plants for fuel production were made by Italians in Ethiopia had limited success. Presently the largest fuel program is in Brazil where government currently spends a considerable amount on subsidizing the production of alcohol, mostly from biomass of sugarcane. Production was estimated to increase so much that around 11 to 14 million cars will use alcohol (with gasoline) by the year 2000. Recently about 30 thousand tones of rape biofuel yearly is produced at the industrial chemical factories in Poland . The important sources investigated during last years from 1993 to 1996 included rapeseed oil, rape methylester, bioethanol from potatoes, sugar beet and wheat. Agricultural/forestry residues : Straw, wood residues cut grasses from landscape cultivation.
1.1 Already European countries mainly Italy, Germany and Austria are leading in Biodiesel production nearing 500,000 tons in 1997 out of which 2,50,000 tonnes was produced in France. (1) The production capacity of biodiesel in Germany was fully utilized in 1997, the sold quantity amounting to roughly 100,000 t. The technologies for producing bio-oil are evolving rapidly with improving process performance, larger yielding and better quality products. The present paper shall discuss problem and strategies for use of biomass in developing countries.
3.5 The liquid bioenergy carrier (RME) rapeseed oil fatty acid methylester) is obtained from rapeseed. The advantage of liquid energy sources are best utilized as fuel for motor vehicles. RME can be used in conventional diesel engines in cars as substitute for diesel fuel.
1.2 Biodiesel production :
A recent World Bank report concluded that "Energy policies will need to be as concerned about the supply and use of biofuels as they are about modern fuels (and) they must support ways to use biofuels more efficiently and in sustainable manner. Although there is significant volume of biodiesel already produced in Europe there are remaining risks slowing down the further expansion to the target set by the European Commission to reach 5% market share in transportation fuels by the year 2000" ( 5, 6, 7) .
These risks are insecurity in raw material supply and prices, doubts about adequate quality assurance and hesitance for a wider acceptance by the Diesel engine manufacturers, mission marketing strategies for targeting biodiesel differential advantages into specific market niches and last not least missing legal frame conditions similar to clean air act in the USA.
1.3 Biomass as potential resources :
Biomass resources are potentially the worlds largest and sustainable energy source a renewable resource comprising 220 billion oven dry tones (about 4500 EJ) of annual primary production. The annual bioenergy potential is about 2900 EJ though only 270 EJ could be considered available on sustainable basis and at competitive prices.
Most major energy scenarios recognize bioenergy as an important component in the future worlds energy. Projections indicate the biomass energy use to the range of 85 EJ to 215 EJ in 2025 compared to current global energy use of about 400 EJ of which 55 EJ are derived from biomass(2).
3.6 However in Indian scene the choice of plant has to be limited to those plants which do not compete with the aerable land requirement and Calotropis procera is one such plant which can grow in wasteland. India has a land mass of approximately 329 million ha. Approximately 175 million of land is degraded land with productivity below its potential.
3.7 The present investigations suggest the optimal yield conditions for Calotropis procera could improve its biomass as well as yield potential.
Acknowledgement : A financial support received from Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, is gratefully acknowledged.
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