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Jatropha mahafalensis oil from Madagascar: Properties and suitability as liquid biofuel

Published 2013

Citation: Sonnleitner A, Rathbauer J, Randriamalala JR, Raoliarivelo LIB, Andrianarisoa JH, Rabeniala R, et al. Jatropha mahafalensis oil from Madagascar: Properties and suitability as liquid biofuel. Energy for Sustainable Development. 2013;17(4):326-30.


Access to affordable and renewable sources of energy is crucial to reducing poverty and enhancing rural development in countries of the global South. Straight vegetable oil was recently identified as a possible alternative to conventional biomass for rural energy supply. In this context, the Jatropha curcas Linn. species has been extensively investigated with regard to its potential as a biofuel feedstock. In contrast, only little is known about Jatropha mahafalensis Jum. & H. Perrier, which is an indigenous and endemic representative of the Jatropha genus in Madagascar. This paper explores the potential and suitability of J. mahafalensis as a biofuel feedstock. Seed samples were collected in the area of Soalara in south-western Madagascar in February and September 2011. Two agro-ecological zones (coastal area and calcareous plateau) and two plant age groups (below and above 10. years) were considered. These four sample groups were analyzed with regard to oil properties, element contents, and fatty acid profiles. Measured values differed greatly between the two harvests, probably owing to different climatic or storage conditions. No direct relation between age of trees or location and oil quality could be established. The analyses indicate that J. mahafalensis oil can be used in oil lamps, cooking stoves and stationary combustion engines for electrification or for biodiesel production. However, modifications in storage and extraction methods, as well as further processing steps are necessary to enable its utilization as a straight vegetable oil and feedstock for biodiesel production. If these technical requirements can be met, and if it turns out that J. mahafalensis oil is economically competitive in comparison with firewood, charcoal, paraffin and petroleum, it can be considered as a promising feedstock for rural energy supply. © 2013 International Energy Initiative.

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