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Bio-diesel is the best portable solution for our food and fuel crisis, shows NED

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Bio-diesel is the best portable solution for our food and fuel crisis, shows NED expert

Karachi: Bio-diesel is an environment friendly fuel, with far less emissions than mineral diesel fuel, and is the perfect solution for the food and fuel crisis, according to NED University of Engineering and Technology, Department of Environmental Engineering Co-Chairman Associate Prof. Dr Mohammed Harun.

"The fuel can be obtained by chemically converting non-edible oil from plants that can thrive on marginal land and can be cultivated with saline and waste water. Farmers should be given incentives to grow these non-edible crops, as fuel prices are consistently rising," said Prof. Harun.

He said that it was also possible to obtain organic balanced fertilizers, rich in nitrogen and having less adverse effects on the soil, from the biomass waste of oilseeds. "At present, Pakistan appears to be on the verge of a major food and fuel crisis but, on the other hand, for the past few decades, the US and European countries have been cultivating edible oil crops for bio fuel production, in an apparent bid to reduce greenhouse emissions in the wake of global warming," he said.

Prof. Harun said that the use of edible crops for bio-diesel production, such as the use of corn oil in USA and sugarcane in Brazil, was a mystifying act, as it leads to unnecessary price hikes and shortages in less developed countries. He said that Pakistan has the potential to cultivate non-edible oil yielding plants, as more than 60 percent of Pakistan's land lies barren. The bio-diesel can be used for buses, wagons and railway engines, helping in reducing harmful emissions, and can also be utilized for power generation.

"There are around 100 million acres of barren land in Pakistan and Pakistan State Oil has already taken a step in the right direction by planting Jatropha plants in Sindh. They even converted the oil obtained to bio-diesel to run one of their showcase vehicles and other plants, such as castor bean (Arhand) and pongame (Sukh Chaen), can also be used," he said.

Prof. Harun was confident that bio-diesel production from non-edible plants would benefit Pakistan in several ways, such as the utilization of marginal land, work for farmers, reduced pollution and a greener Pakistan. He especially stressed upon the fact that bio-diesel production would give a boost to the economy, as it can drastically cut down our fuel imports.

"These plants, such as Jatropha Curcas and Castor bean plants can be grown in wastelands and consume very less water. Plus, the cultivation of these plants, which includes seed collection, oil extraction and the actual bio diesel production, will provide a large number of employment opportunities," he said, adding that the by-products of bio-diesel production, such as glycerin and seed cake, can be used in soap, pharmaceutical and fertilizer industries.

Prof. Harun revealed that 1,000 Jatropha saplings cost Rs 5,000. "Jatropha cultivation has the potential to generate an income of Rs 25,000 per hectare per month. On an average, 12 tons of seeds are planted per hectare, from which 35 percent oil can be extracted, and in the case of Castor bean, 8 tons of seeds per hectare produce 35 percent oil. The maximum yield of Jatropha is around 1,892 Litres per hectare, while for castor bean it is around 1,413 litres per hectare," said Prof. Harun. Daily Times