Scientists from University of Hyderabad, India have found that castor bean plants could help in remediation of areas where soil has been highly polluted with heavy metals due to industrial pollution.
Castor plants growing in these areas absorb toxic heavy metals from soil. Hence, castor bean plants can be grown in such polluted lands and over a period of time the levels of heavy metals can be reduced in the soil.
Research reports stated that when the castor bean plants growing in industrial areas were tested, roots of the plants were seen to contain lead in as high as 19.53 milligrams per gram of the root. Even leaves and stem of the plant were found to be containing lead but in smaller quantities.
Castor cultivation which had lost interest among farmers since 2012 is now attracting farmers with new farming methods and cropping patterns. Castor cultivation was at its peak during 2010-11 due to high castor seed prices at around Rs. 6200 per quintal. The crop had become the most preferred for the kharif sowing.
But during 2012, as the prices started falling, the castor cultivation decreased and since then it has been decreasing, with prices of castor seed falling to Rs. 3325 – Rs. 3400 per quintal.
To increase castor yield and attract farmers, SEA started a Castor Yield Increase Programme where around 60 farmers and scientists of Dantiwada Agricultural University joined. The main objective was to reduce the use of water, pesticides, fertilizers and cut costs while raising the yield by changing the cropping pattern.
The new cropping pattern has attracted farmers as the castor seed yields have doubled. The Dantiwada Agriculture University has provided GCH 7, a new hybrid variety of castor seeds, free of cost to farmers.
SEA has also planned the pilot project to five districts of Gujarat and Rajasthan by including more farmers.
Researchers from India prepared castor oil polyurethane from pre-polymer oftoluene diisocyanate (TDI) and castor oil with dibutyl tin dilaurate (DBTDL) catalyst. Water was used as blowing agent. The rate of forming was increased by increasing catalyst and water content. On other hand the cell size of the PU decreased with increasing amount of the catalyst and water content.
Characterization studies were performed to analyse the properties of synthesized foam.
Recent research shows production of jet fuel from ricinoleic acid methyl ester.
Experiments conducted earlier have shown the possibility of producing jet fuel from castor oil or hydro processing castor oil.
Now scientists from China have found that jet fuel could be produced from castor oil derived ricinoleic acid methyl ester. A unique hydroxyl group in the ricinoleic acid chain induced a special thermal rearrangement reaction in medium chain fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and heptanal formation. This reaction was used as a starting point for the production of jet fuel.
Results showed that the carbon selectivity in the castor oil to jet fuel process was as high as 90%.
Researchers from Finland have found a method to produce novel castor oil segmented thermoplastic polyurethanes which have controlled mechanical properties.
Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is an elastomer that is fully thermoplastic. Like all thermoplastic elastomers, TPU is elastic and melt-processable. TPU is a linear segmented block copolymer composed of hard and soft segments. The hard segment can be either aromatic or aliphatic. The soft segment can either be a polyether or polyester type, depending on the application.
The new study shows that it is possible to produce thermoplastic polyurethanes using castor oil via polyaddition approach where the formation of prepolymers needs to be carried out with the addition of small amount of castor oil and excess of diisocyanate in the very first step. This is followed by the addition of the other polyols and finally a low molecular weight chain extender.
Results showed that the synthesized polyurethanes exhibited good biocompatibility and high transparency.
Recent study shows that a two-step mediation of castor oil could overcome the problem of polyaddition threshold of castor oil during polyurethane formation.
The study has been conducted by scientists from India who have found that the mediation facilitates formation of polyurethane systems directly from castor oil without the need for triricinolein chain extension or the use of supplementary hydroxyl compounds.
The process involves refluxing castor oil with n-butyl lithium in the presence of a solvent followed by water addition.
Results showed that the mediation introduces two new compounds in castor oil namely, a lithiated diglyceride and a lithium salt of fatty acid. Characterization studies of the newly synthesized polyurethane were also carried out.
Recent study shows production of wood adhesives from castor oil.
Commonly used wood adhesives were anima (hide) glue, urea-formaldehyde resin adhesives, resorcinol-formaldehyde, phenol-formaldehyde, polyurethane, etc.
Now scientists from Iran have conducted an experiment to produce polyester polyols, which is an important compound in polymeric polyurethane adhesives, from castor oil. The polyester polyols were synthesized condensation polymerization of different dicarboxylic acids with castor oil.
Characterization studies were also carried out to determine the shear strength value in various conditions such as cold water, hot water, acid and alkali solutions.
Recent study has found new castor oil based polymeric surfactants.
Polymeric surfactants are polymeric substances which tend to reduce surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved.
Now scientists from China have conducted an experiment to produce castor oil based polymeric surfactants. Dehydrated castor oil was epoxidized using phosphoric acid and acetic acid to produce epoxidized castor oil. Ring opening polymerization method was followed with to produce polymerized epoxidized castor oil (PECO) and hydrolysed PECO (HPECO).
Characterization studies showed that castor oil based polymeric surfactants exhibited high efficiency to reduce the surface tension of water.
Recent study has found the use of castor oil as antistatic and anticorrosive materials.
Antistatic property is defined as the fast dissipation of static electricity (static charge). It is evaluated using two measures – surface resistance and half-life. The lower the surface resistance (Ω), the higher the antistatic property; and the shorter the half-life (s), the higher the antistatic property.
A previous study conducted by scientists from Korea in 2004, has found that waterborne -polyurethane coating materials containing conductive polyaniline blend films showed reduced antistatic half-life.
Now, scientists from Korea and India have prepared castor oil-based waterborne polyurethane/polyaniline (COWPU/PAni) conducting polymer blend films. The waterborne polyurethane synthesized from isophorone diisocyanate was reacted with castor oil to form prepolymers. Also, COWPU/PAni hybrid dispersions were synthesized to make different conductive composites.
Characteristic studies showed that COWPU/PAni conducting blend films could be used as antistatic and anticorrosive coating materials.
Recent study has found a new source of biodiesel from castor oil which has less viscosity than the original castor oil.
Castor oil cannot be used as such for biodiesel production due to its high viscosity. Hence scientists from Singapore have found an alternative method to produce low viscosity biodiesel from castor oil.
By chemical modification of ricinolein in castor oil and methyl Ricinoleate, new products called ketone-containing glycerides were obtained. These ketone containing triglycerides were used for the production of biodiesel.
The biodiesel obtained by this method was found to have low viscosity.
Thus, vehicles can now run with a fuel which has less viscosity.