Microbial Population Study in Recycling the Deoiled Cake of Pongamia

Biodiesel is an innovative fuel that is rapidly becoming more available to the general public. Itcan be found around the country in select places or it can be bought directly from producers. It costs a little more than traditional fuels at the current time because the demand is not as great. However, as demand grows and the public realizes the benefits of a biodegradable, renewable fuel source, the price will drop. Compared to other alternative fuels, biodiesel has a number of unique features and qualities. It has passed all the health effects testing requirements, unlike other alternative fuels. This means it meets the standards of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has legally allowed biodiesel to be sold and commercially distributed. Other alternative fuels cannot be sold commercially as motor fuel because they do not meet the EPA’s fuel specifications. One of the best things about biodiesel fuel is that is it not harmful to the environment like traditional fuels. Biodiesel is made from renewable resources which mean it is safe for the environment. It does not produce the high emissions like traditional fuels.

Biodiesel does not cause harmful effects to the environment that will produce lasting effects on generations to come. The uncertain supplies and frequent price hikes of fossil fuels in the international market are posing serious economic threats for developing countries. Amongst the many species, which can yield oil as a source of energy in the form of bio-fuel, Pongamia pinnata has been found to be one of the most suitable species in India being widely grown, it is N2-fixing trace, not brought by animals and oil is non-edible. It is tolerant to water logging, saline and alkaline soils; it can withstand harsh climates (medium to high rainfall). It can be planted on degraded lands farmer’s field boundaries, Wastelands / fallow lands and could be grown across the country.

Pongamia seeds contain 30-40% oil. Pongamia pinnata belongs to the family sp. (Papilionaceace) are mere species viz. Pongamia glabra also exists. It is a medium sized evergreen tree with a spreading crown and a short bole. The tree is planted for shade and is grown as ornamental tree. It is one of the few nitrogen-fixing trees producing seeds containing 30-40% oil. The natural distribution is along coasts and riverbanks in lands and native to the Asian subcontinent. It is also cultivated along roadsides, canal banks and open farm lands. It is a preferred species for controlling soil erosion and binding sand dunes because of its dense network of lateral roots. Its root, bark, leaves, sap, and flower also have medicinal properties and traditionally used as medicinal plants.

The seeds are largely exploited for extraction of non-edible oil commercially known as ‘Karanja oil’, which is well known for its medicinal properties. So far there is no systematic organized collection of seeds. Mixture seeds consist of 95% kernel and are reported to contain about 27.0- 40% oil. The yield of oil is reported to be about 24 to 26.5% if mechanical expellers are used for the recovery of oil from the kernels.

The crude oil is yellow orange to brown in color, which deepens on standing. It has a bitter taste, disagreeable odour, and it’s non-edible. Pongamia seed oil as a bio- fuel has physical properties very similar to conventional diesel.

Pongamia has a lifespan of 100 years with a known oil seed productive lifespan of 60 years. These plantations can be managed by a smaller / unskilled workforce due to lower crop maintenance and harvesting requirements. It is a legume therefore minimizing irrigation and expensive fertilizer requirements.

Pongamia trees at maturity regularly produce 800 – 1,000kgs of seed per tree per year and can be grown in temperatures from 0 – 50 degrees Celsius. The waste product obtained after the extraction of oil from pongamia seed is pongamia cake characterized to be highly toxic in nature. These cakes if comes directly in contact with environment will disturb the microbial diversity in soil and as well as water. So it became a major environmental issue to resolve. The present study was taken to overcome this problem and to recycle the waste so that it can be used as manure and compost.

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