Oil bearing seasonal crops in India:energy and phytoremediation potential

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Tandon, Mamta ; Vasudevan, Padma ; Naik, S.N. ; Davies, Philip (2013)

Purpose: A variety of biomass plantations are being raised for energy production. This case study is on energy production potential of seasonal oil bearing crops in India. These crops have the advantage of producing oil (liquid fuel) as well as biomass as agro residue (solid fuel). The purpose of the study is to estimate total energy yields of oil bearing crops and compare with other types of energy plantations. Also oil bearing crops bioaccumulate metals and thus phytoremediate soil. This provides scope for waste water irrigation. Design/methodology/approach: Relevant published papers on energy production by raising oil bearing crops have been analyzed. The effect of waste water irrigation and agronomic practices on increasing productivity is given special attention. Findings: It is shown that the seasonal oil bearing crops such as castor have a high potential to generate energy and this is comparable to energy produced by many perennial grasses. The energy yields of castor under irrigated condition was 196×103 MJ/ha and this is comparable to the reed canary grass which yields 195×103 MJ/ha. Some of the oil bearing crops are also super accumulators of certain toxic metals. Research limitations/implications: In this study, only all the accessible papers on the topic could be analyzed. Practical implications: This case study indicates that raising oil bearing crops such as castor using waste water has many advantages which include high energy yields, utilization of waste water for productive purpose and phytoremediation of soil. Originality/value: The comparison made between various types of energy crops for their energy generation is an original contribution. Findings of economic and environmental benefits by waste water irrigation are also of value.
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