JATROPHA CURCAS L. AS A SOURCE FOR THE PRODUCTION OF BIODIESEL: A CUBAN EXPERIENCE
José Angel Sotolongol, Pedro Beatón2, Armando Díaz3, Sofía Montes de Ocal, Yadiris del Vallel, Soraya García Pavónl,
lCADETES, CITMA, Guantánamo, Cuba
2 CITMA, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
3 Chemical Engineering Faculty, Oriente University, Santiago, Cuba
4Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Technology / Divison of Chemical Technology
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), S-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
ABSTRACT: This work presents a study of the energetic and environmental potentialities of the use of Jatropha
Curcas L.in the in the south costal part of the Guantanamo province, Cuba for production of biodiesel as an
alternative for the sustainable energy development. A quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the Jatropha Curcas
components and by-products of the biodiesel production in the area including its physical and chemical properties is
performed. The possible uses and energetic contribution of the Jatropha components and by-products from biodiesel
production such as the fruits, shell, seed, oil, cake, fuel wood, glycerol are evaluated. Social, environmental and
economical impacts are described. The contribution of the Jatropha Curcas to the Cuban energetic matrix is
compared with other Cuban agro-industries such as sugarcane, coconut and coffee.
Keywords: biodiesel, sustainable use of biomass, esterification
• A reduced consumption of firewood and residues in
Biodiesel extracted from vegetable oil is an
• Expanded options for carbon dioxide abatement.
alternative renewable fuel source reducing the
dependence on fossil fuels. A plant deserving special
• A reduction of expenditure of imported fuels for
attention for biodiesel production is Jatropha curcas, a
plant which is been used to combat desertification.
• The establishment of decentralized technology chains
Jatropha curcas L. (JCL) is a tall bush or small tree
based on the use of plant oil.
(up to 5 m high) and belongs to the euphorbia family.
• Energy production in rural areas as well as rural
The genus Jatropha contains approximately 170 known
mechanisation promoting the use of plant oil as a fuel
species. Jatropha has a speedy growth curve, and
in stationary or mobile engines for water pumping
produces seeds for well over for 50 years. The seeds
(irrigation), grain milling, transportation and
contain more than 30% of a nonedible oil. The genus
name Jatropha derives from the Greek jatrós (doctor),
trophé (food), which implies medicinal uses.
The centre of Jatropha origin is Mexico and Central
2 MATERIALS and METHODS
America. It has been introduced to Africa and Asia and is
now culti-vated world-wide specially in tropical and
The goal of the work is to evaluate an agro-forestry
subtropical countries Currently it is used as a living
system of Jatropha in the arid conditions such as in the
fence to protect gardens and fields from animals. In Cuba
south costal part of the Guantanamo province. A
Jatropha is present in the entire island.
quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the Jatropha
The area under cultivation of Jatropha is expanding
Curcas components and by-products of the biodiesel
several countries such as India, Brazil, Guatemala, some
production in the area including its physical and
Africans countries. In Cuba, CITMA, MINAZ with the
chemical properties is performed. The heat value is
support of MINAZ are developing energetic cultivation
determinated by experimental methods (calorific pump)
in Guantanamo and Granma.
as well by analytical methods (by using the elemental
The development of the cultivation of Jatropha as
composition of the fuel, C-H-O-N-S, humidity, ash
energy source is aiming also:
yield). The Production of Jatropha curcas and production
of energy in the agro-forestry system were estimated.
• To reduce poverty, especially that of women, by
The appropriated technology was selected and designed
stimulating economic activities in rural areas by
using the products of such plants for the manufacture
of soap, medicines, lubricants, chemicals, fertilizers,
2.1 Characteristic of the fruits.
Fruits are about 2 cm in diameter. Each fruit
• Prevention of water erosion. Improvement of soil
contains 2-3 seeds. Jatropha cultivation are estimated to
produce 3500 kg fruits /ha, (base: 400 trees/ha and fruit
weigh: 3.3 g).
Improvement of the quality of life in rural areas,
encouraging the use of plant oil as a viable
renewable energy option for cooking, lighting and
2.1 The shell.
The separation of the shell from the nut can be done
manually or by a shelling machine. The shell can be used
as organic fertilizer. The shell is 30 wt% of the fruit.
About 1000 kg of cake /ha can be obtained. The cake
1000 kg shell can be produced in 1 ha. The shell can be
could also be used as fuel, because its calorific value is
also used as fuel. The calorific value of the shell is 11.1
11.1 MJ/kg (3% humidity). The Mexican variety is non
MJ/kg (15% humidity).
toxic and for this reason the produced cake has a higher
The shell can be also used in bio-digestor to produce
biogas. In Nicaragua considerable production of biogas
using shell of Jatropha in an upflow anaerobic digestor
2.6 The fuel wood
has been obtained with a retention time of 3 days.
During 6 year, 20 000 kg biomass can be produce in
2.3 The seed.
1 ha of Jatropha plantation (considering 20 kg/tree and
The seed is 70 %wt of the fruit. 2500 kg seed could
be produced in 1 ha. The size of the seed is about 17.5
The wood produced during the thinning out and
mm in length and 11.5 mm width. The weight of 1000
maintenance of the plantation has a calorific value of
seed is about 840 g, i.e. 1190 seed/kg.
15.5 MJ/kg (15% humidity). The wood can be used as
The Cape Verde seed variety is smaller (682 g/1000
living fence, because it is not browsed by animals, as
seed). This type is very common around the world but
fuel wood or for production of charcoal.
not in America Central. In Cuba 9 ha has been cultivated
For en environmental point of view each tree can fix
with this type in the region of Guantanamo and Granma,
6 kg CO2 and 9 kg O2. The tree contribute to the
with good adaptation to the dry conditions. The process
reforestation in arid and semi-arid regions rehabilitating
is in evaluation.
degraded areas, protecting the land from wind erosion,
The Nicaragua seed variety has a weight of 878
protecting the biodiversity in coastal areas.
g/1000 seeds. This type produces less fruit per tree than
If the nutrient supply to the plant is adequate, especially
the African type.
in nitrogen, the evolution of the plant depends on the
In Mexico, in the region of Misantla, Veracruz, there
water disponibility. The net production of biomass
is a non toxic variety.
including the leaves, wood, fruit, etc can reach a level of
The composition of the seed is about 6,6 wt% water,
1.2 t/ha/year of dry mater with rains in the level of 200
18.2 %wt protein, 38 wt% oil, 33.5 wt% carbohydrate,
mm/year. In areas where the rains are in the level of
15.5 wt% fibre and 4.5 wt % ash.
1500 mm/year the net production of biomass can be 11.8
2.4 The oil
2.5 The glycerol.
The seed contains about 38 %wt oil. Between 27 %
and 32 % oil can be mechanically extracted from seed
During the manufacture of biodiesel, for every 1litre
using a screw press. The oil is used for production of
of oil which is processed by transesterification, 79 ml of
soap, of insecticide, etc. It can be used as fuel as pure oil
glycerol is produced, i.e. 64.3 litres glycerol is produced
or as biodiesel after its transterification. As biodiesel can
in 1 ha. Jatropha plantation. The produced by-product in
be used in mixtures B2, B5, B10, B20 or pure (B100).
the transesterification reaction is a mixture of glycerol,
soap, unreacted alcohol and catalyst (Potassium or
Using the Sundhara oil expeller, extractions of
Sodium hydroxide). This mixture can be destillated in
around 29% has been obtained.3.3 kg of seed has been
order to obtain pure glycerol to be used as raw material
used for production of 1 kg oil (1.086 litres oil) with the
or as fuel in the production of biogas.
following physical -chemical properties (table 1)
The residues from the transesterification reaction can
be converted biologically or thermally into energy. Since
Table 1. Properties of extracted oil
2001 the production of biogas using glycerol is being
studied. Studies regarding the elimination of undesired
compounds produced in the transesterifaction and mixed
Calorific value, MJ/kg
with the glycerol.
Relative density a 150 C g/cm3 0,9207 The thermal conversion of glycerol into energy is an
Kinematic viscosity a 20 0 C cst
alternative to developed in the future taking into account
Relation C/H, %wt
that the caloric value of the glycerol is 17.28 MJ/kg. The
Sulphur content, % wt
glycerine by-product burns well, but unless it's properly
combusted at high temperatures it will release toxic
Water content, % wt
acrolein fumes (unsaturated aldehyd), which mainly form
at between 200 and 300 ºC. Skin exposure to acrolein
2.5 The cake.
causes serious damage. Acrolein concentrations of 2 ppm
are immediately dangerous to life. Permissible exposure
After the extraction of oil from seeds the remnant
limit for acrolein is 0.1 ppm. A complete and clean
matter or cake are left as by-product. The cake
combustion of the glycerol requires a burning
containing carbohydrates, fibres and rest of oil is useful
temperature in excess of 1,000 ºC and probably a mean
as organic fertilizer because the high content of nitrogen.
residence time in the Hot Box of about 5 seconds.
Jatropha oil cakes are used for a wide variety of
applications and can be further processed to make bio-
The glycerine has several uses. The most important
gas. The cake contains toxic components, but after these
applications are related to the pharmaceutical industry,
components are taking away, the cake could be used as
the food industry as well as the cosmetic industry.
animal food with a protein contain higher than 50%.
products of the industrial process (oil, glycerol, cake,
3 RESULTS and DISCUSSION
shell, etc) could have other economic uses (insecticides,
fertilizers, food animal, etc) and also generates jobs,
In the arid and semiarid regions of Cuba, two harvest
impulse the development of agro-industries, reduce the
can be performed yearly, one in December-February and
fuel importations and increase the exportations.
another with a lower yield in July-September.
The social benefits are related to the improvement of
The energetic cultivation of Jatropha increases the
the rural development and energization. The access to
production yield after the third year reaching a stable
a fuel providing domestic energy for lighting, cooking
yield in the sixth year. At this time the productivity
and for rural machineries increases the quality of live in
levels in an arid and semiarid region will be as following
the rural areas.
The environmental benefits of the development of an
agro-forestry system based on Jatropha Curcas are
related to influence on the increase of the forestry area,
the reduction of the wind and water erosion, the
improvement of soil fertility, increase of the biodiversity
and reduction of contaminant gas emissions.
The biomass production in an agro-forestry system
based on Jatropha Curcas and its energetic conversion
can increase the influence of biomass on the Cuban
energetic matrix, reaching production of biomass in
levels of 1.83 toe/ha not including the contribution of the
fuel wood. The biomass production can be increased
with an optimal irrigation and fertilization. As
comparison it is mentioned the contribution of other
Cuban agro-industries to the Cuban energetic matrix:
Sugar cane with 3.43 toe/ha, Coconut with q.07 toe/ha
and coffee with 0.118 toe/ha.
The relationship between input and output is 1: 3.5 to
Figure 1. Energetic characteristic of Jatropha components
1:5 for the Jatropha according international experiences,
higher than the obtained in other Cuban agro-industries
In figure 1 the energetic characteristic of Jatropha
excepting the Coconut (1:1.8 for sugarcane; 1:0.71 for
components is shown. The biomass with higher
coffee and 1:22 for coconut).
economic value are the oil and the glycerol, because of
An advantage of the agro-forestry system based on
their several uses, energetic potentialities and the actual
Jatropha Curcas is the impact on the environment such as
state of the technological development allowing its
the increase of the forest area, increase of the
energetic utilization as well as their industrial uses such
biodiversivity, soil recuperation by reduction of wind
as raw material for important processes such as soap,
and water erosion, improvement of soil fertility, decrease
cosmetics, insecticides, lubricants, etc.
of contaminant gas emission.
The shells of the fruits and seeds as well as the
residual cake are used today as fertilizers. Research is
aiming to convert this biomass into energy by biological
conversion to produce biogas and by thermal conversion
 Evaluación Fonológica y Productiva del cultivo de
to produce heat.
JCL, Report. Project evaluation.
An agro-forestry system could theoretical produce
 G.D.P.S. Augustusa, M.Jayabalana, G.J. Seilerb;
energy levels over 1.835 toe (toe: tons equivalent
“Evaluation and bioinduction of energy components
petroleum: 45 · 103 MJ) not including the fuel wood.
of Jatropha Curcas”; Biomass and Bioenergy 23,
The contribution of the pure vegetal oil and its
conversion into biodiesel is 0.305 toe/ha could double
 Keith Openshaw, A review of Jatropha Curcas: an oil
with an optimal management of the plantation, and with
plant unfulfilled promise, Biomass and Bioenergy 19,
optimal irrigation and fertilization.
 J.A. Sotolongo Perez, Evaluación de las Fuentes de
energía, su potencialidades y principales impactos
The main impact of an agro-forestry system based
medioambientales en la provincia de Guantánamo,
Jatropha Curcas are the economical, social and d
Thesis on Master in Energy.
The economical benefits are related to the
availability of new renewable fuels (shell, cake, fuel
wood and vegetal oil to produce biodiesel). A major
diversification of the fuels participating in the energetic
economy is obtained. The new raw materials and by-