Jatropha plant. Image credit jatropha.org.za

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Energy:Small scale energy sources and plants:Bio-fuel

  • is a fuel that is produced through contemporary biological processes,
  • such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion,
  • rather than a fuel produced by geological processes such as those involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, from prehistoric biological matter
  • Biofuels can be derived directly from plants, or indirectly from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and/or industrial wastes
  • Zimbabwe once tried implement ┬ábio-diesel projects from the seed of the Jatropha plant which grows naturally in some┬áparts of the country.
  • The Jatropha plant grows extensively in Mutoko, Mudzi, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe among others.
  • It has also been introduced in other parts of the country.
  • One tonne of the Jatropha seed can produce 400 litres of bio-fuel.
  • The project was coordinated by the Industrial Development Corporation, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe and the Scientific and Industrial Research Development Centre.
  • The production of bio-diesel from the Jatropha seed produces by-products such as glycerine which can be used in soap-making and also a residue that can be used as organic fertilizer.
  • Although the Jatropha plant is extensively known for its medicinal value, its bark also contains tannin which can be used as a dye in the textile and leather industries.
  • The project has failed due to corruption, lack of funds, disorganization and lack of consistent clear goals
  • Bio-fuel is used in other parts of the world such as Brazil were it has had better success
  • Here sugarcane is used to make ethanol
  • The ethanol is then used to power cars and other machinery
  • In Zimbabwe ethanol production in the Loweveld is also used as a fuel
  • Unlike in Brazil where pure ethanol is used the ethanol is mostily blended with petrol
  • The fuel is then used to power cars and other machinary
  • An example of indirect bio-fuel production in Zimbabwe
  • is when molasses and other waste is used to heat water into steam
  • This is then used to generate electricity at Hippo Valley
  • The electricity produced is used to meet the needs of Hippo Valley and surrounding communities

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page