Castor Fuel in Kenya

Kenyan based castor company – Biossal, uses castor as a primary feedstock for their local needs for fuel production. The company has entered into an agreement with Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), to research biofuel manufacturing processes and castor seed oil yields.

The company claims that the castor fuel produced by them can be used to fire boilers like those used in big schools or institutions such as hospitals or police, prisons or army camps In addition, Biossal aims to review the technical feasibility of turning castor bean waste into briquettes, livestock feed and fertilizer with the technical support of Climate Innovation Center, Kenya.


National Spot Exchange (NSEL) Possesses 1.04 lakh Tonnes of Castor Seed in Gujarat –

National Spot Exchange (NSEL), India has confirmed having 1.04 lakh tonnes of castor seed stock at Kadi, Gujarat, with an overall storage capacity of 1.2 Lakh tonnes.

NSEL said that the existing stock of 1.04 lakh tonnes is for 6715 participants who actively use NSEL’s online facility to trade in castor seed. Further, there are four leading caster seed crushers, processors and exporters in India and Jayant Agro Organics and N K Industries are the leading exporters using NSEL platform.

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Columbia welcomes castor biodiesel production

In the current day world, as fossil fuel demands continue to peak in a regular way, people look for alternate options especially the renewable oils which has a great tendency to produce a positive impact in the transportation sector. Although different vegetable oils are proven to act as sources for bio-fuel synthesis,several find constraints due to their extensive applications as vital ingredients in food. However, castor oil being under the non-edible oil class, turns to be a gifted candidate in this regard for ready exploitation to feed the locomotive engines.

Recently, an Argentinian oil company Oil Fox has come with an overseas initiative to produce biodiesel from castor and algae in Columbia. According to the spokesman from the producer firm, they plan to commission a production facility for 500 million litres on an annual basis with an investment over US$ 150 million. They further indicate that the plant will function in collaboration with two academic institutes and a local firm for technical and raw material procurement support respectively. It is interesting to see that the company concerned has already been in castor biodiesel production business in Argentina since 1999.

Castor plant seems to be an appropriate choice not only due to its non-edible nature but also for its inherent property to grow on marginal lands under rain-fed conditions.Hence it has a capability to create sustainable biodiesel operation right from farmers’ field to industrial and consumer environments. Also when the final product from castor oil is optimized well to suit the demands of engines, castor bean shall be a good oilseed crop for these natural wealth rich South American nations where cultivation of it is already in practice.

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Applauds for castor research in India

India carries an agricultural pride by nature as a leading zone in the world for cultivation and production of castor seed and oil, industrially reputed commodities today. To sustain this position research on the oilseed crop is fundamental and is being performed in a consistent way throughout the country across various institutions.Recently TNAU, a premier agricultural institute in South India has been awarded the “Best Castor Centre Award,’ for 2011, by Indian Council for Agricultural Research, New Delhi along with a shield, certificate, a citation and Rs.5,000, presented by Dr K S Varaprasad, Project Director, Directorate of Oil Seeds Researech, Hyderabad at the All India Annual Research Workers Group Meet on Castor at Yercaud. To signify it was TNAU’ release of a variety of castor called YRCH 1 in 2009 from Tapioca and Castor Research Station (TCRS) whose field performance made it popular among TN farmers for widespread cutivation.

As demand for castor oil mounts up globally, promoting research activities will galvanize its scope of cultivation and boost up rural economy to a greater extent in the country.

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Castor oil to aid healing of wounds and cuts

It is obvious to us that several plants act as excellent sources of chemicals with medicinal value which dwell either in a definite organ or whole bio-system.Castor seed oils are not an exception to this storage nature of plants where constituents in it tend to display therapeutic activities to cure the physical discomforts directly or indirectly.

With continued scope for natural products in global pharma divisions, a recent press release from firm, Morinda Bioactives, USA which it claims to be specialized in formulation of drugs on phyto-chemicals has reported that its launch of a new stream of drugs called Shield Biomedicals at International Leadership Conference Salt Lake City, Utah, contain castor oil derived chemicals as base ingredients to contribute for moisture retention function. As per the manufacturer’ statement, their ointment formulation with castor oil is a home remedy to wounds and burns etc with pain relieving properties.

Information source such as this keeps boosting the potential of castor oil in high value market sectors which the producer nations should realize well to upgrade their line of products from this vegetable oil, gifted for industries.

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Castor cultivation for Cambodian regional progression

Industrially vital Castor plant continues to expand its geographical horizon in Asiatic agro zones with business proposals to develop from it a stable supply chain for demands and sustainability. It can be exemplified from Cambodia where a 10 year business development plan to establishment a firm called “Adalidda Castor”, the first of its type, will be operating on integrated supply chain aspects of Castor cultivation and oil extraction etc. Project developers have indicated that the cost for establishment of firm would be US$ 16 million and initiatives include castor cultivation on 20,000 hectares of land, oil processing and contact farming with locals. This Castor project is a joint venture between a consultancy in Cambodia and a venture capital company according to sources and execution of it would be made in two phases.

It is exciting to note that “Adalidda Castor” project has provisions for crop management  by software systems and optimistic developers of the study say that benefits could be reaped through direct employment for 719 people, revenues for 20,000 households in contract farming, capacity building for farm workers and their families through education and medical facilities, apart from principal investors and other stakeholders’ advantages in the supply chain.

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Evolution of organic castor oil from India

Castor oil as we know a reputed raw material for industrial chemicals is often cultivated and processed in fields and oil mills respectively with synthetic inputs to make it available in bulk with desired properties. However, such pretreatments are longer a valid aspect when oil with quality and sustainability is required for certain subset of applications as production of pure natural cosmetics and related skin care products. This conditional demand faced by Wala Heilmittel GmbH, a German firm to market its completely natural skin products based of cold pressed castor oil had made it to formulate an approach of synthetic components free, organic castor oil exchange with India, involving mutual benefits for growers, processors and consumers.  Christine Ellinger, a scientific representative of the firm initiated her actions via contacts with an Indian NGO called Satvik which then functioned with team of eco-minded farmers in cultivation of crops. Her financial assistance to NGO’ advisory council and efforts of Institute of Market Ecology (IMO) certification for product quality successfully boosted up the cultivation of organic castor and the agenda of German firm reached up its peak with co-ordinated assistance from a like minded castor oil entrepreneur, Mr:Nanalal Satra in Gujarat whose dedicated processing facility for organic castor oil production yielded the German raw material of choice ultimately from India.

The face of organic oil cultivation did not wipe off with German initiatives in India but has steadily grown today to a level of 277 tons of castor beans on approximately 1,175 hectares of land with oil yields in excess to supply other prospective companies. The outcomes so far have been fruitful with social and environmental responsibilities and significantly created economic independence for farmers, especially those in Northern arid regions of Kutch who suffered a nightmare in the earthquakes of Gujarat in 2001.

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Castor-An Effective Mitigant of GHG Emissions

Castor oil, an universally reputed vegetable oil finds inexhaustible applications in numerous industrial sectors with special references to bio-polymer, lubricant, pharmaceutical and surfactant domains. In the list of vegetable oils for biofuels, castor oil equally reserves its position as a promising source but often its demand in non-energy sector and volatile global market availability has shadowed the contribution of castor to sustainable biofuel development. To circumvent the limitations and harness the carbon credits of castor biodiesel and related environmental advantages, German firm Evogene subjected biodiesel from its high yielding lines of castor to GHG life cycle assessment (LCA).

To best realize the complete environmental impacts of castor biodieel as LCA, Symbiotic Engineering conducted the study in two different locations, USA and Brazil for Evogene’ product. Astonishingly, the results indicated that biodiesel production coupled to use from castor reduced GHG emissions by 90 & 75% in USA and Brazil respectively.

Manufacturers of this biofuel were deeply impressed with energy and ecological weightage of castor and Mr. Assaf Oron, Evogene’s EVP Strategy and Business Development announced that “The results of the LCA strengthen our belief in castor bean”.

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Anti-cancer activity from new-world ricins

Biological systems have a complex chemistry which tend to exhibit functions under conditions of demand and proteins are one such prime classes of bio-molecules, persisting in organisms with a tremendous degree of diversity in their constituent composition and functions.Characterization of distinct candidates of proteins for functional vitality is a consensus process, independent of organism and has been followed for Castor here in the context of functional evaluation of strange variants of toxin,ricin and agglutinin in bio-medicine.

Ricin protein is complex protein with well defined lethal functional activity in human cells but its variation inside the castor plant and populations has not been elucidated extensively either on materialistic or functional basis which triggered researchers from Taiwan to initiate freak identification of ricin protein and related toxins from castor seed,richest source of castor toxins.To address this question,they adopted a protein fractionation chromatographic and electrophoresis techniques to resolve  multiple variants of ricin and evaluating the activity of purified, anomalous forms.The results indicated three principal isoforms of ricin(A,B,C) and an agglutinin, in which toxic activity was seen to a maximum level from ricin A upon oral feeding of it in mice and further observation from them revealed that the concerned protein isolate turned out to a novel member.The scientists subsequently subjected it to display its impact against tumour cells and noticed cell division inhibitory activity which was also selective and differential in mode of action to diseased cells.

It is an exciting study to see as the protein chemists followed an elegant and lucid experimental design but ended up with a potent toxin coupled to anti-tumor activity.However the thing that is to be monitored is the contrasting functional behaviour of this new toxin between an intact organism and a cancer cell line which obviously demands for a proper bio-safety evaluation to scale up the promotion of this toxin (declared as a lectin as per authour’s interpretations) for any disease management actions in humans.

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Hidden diversity in castor expression genetics

Castor plant is a complex and evolved biological system which can be defined by its series of complex expressions emerged in the life cycle.An universal observation of them reveal us a fact that the traits are expressed with temporal control and found to coupled to pre-programmed genetics.As the phenomena have been monitored skillfully by intellectual minds associated with castor, the complete knowledge pertaining to genetics of them stood nascent for subsequent improvement and other sort of modifications in castor to suit the demands of humans.The condition is now approaching violation with advent and progression in molecular plant genetics which permitted scientists to overcome the seen limitations in castor plant expressions independent of their level.

Research study discussed in this blog concentrates on molecular profiling of temporal  genes implicated to seed germination and leaf development.It is convenient to differenciate these two phenotypic traits which enabled biologists to expect a great degree of linked gene expression diversity.The scientists followed fingerprinting analysis in partially representative genetic libraries of two concerned castor subjects, made in microbes and they employed differential multiple, molecular probes hybridization technique for the selection of unique genes contributing to the traits of study.To their surprise,the extent of polymorphism in genes and their pattern of expression in castor from two of its component systems was something significant and anomalous,  thus demanding for additional research efforts to have an exact understanding.It is a good proof and initiative action  in the industrially respected agricultural crop, castor.

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