Pongamia pinnata: Is there any
alternative crop to Jatropha Curcus? The answer is yes. Pongamia is
another oil plant tree, which can provide you a higher yield per Ha,
but one can expect the yield only after 4 to 7 years!
It is a deciduous tree that grows to about 15-25 meters in height
with a large canopy that spreads equally wide. The leaves are a
soft, shiny burgundy in early summer and mature to a glossy, deep
green as the season progresses. Small clusters of white, purple, and
pink flowers blossom on their branches throughout the year, maturing
into brown seed pods. The tree is well suited to intense heat and
sunlight and its dense network of lateral roots and its thick, long
taproot make it drought tolerant. The dense shade it provides slows
the evaporation of surface water and its root structures promote
nitrogen fixation, which moves nutrients from the air into the soil.
Withstanding temperatures slightly below 0°C to 50°C and a minimum
annual rainfall of 500 mm, the tree grows wild on sandy and rocky
soils, including oolitic limestone, but will grow in most soil
types, even with its roots in salt water.
Trees of ten reach adult height in 4 or 5 years, bearing at the age
of 4–7 years. A single tree is said to yield 9–90 kg seed per tree,
indicating a yield potential of 900––9000 kg seed/ha. Pongamia seeds
contain 30-40% oil. Pongamia pinnata belongs to the family sp. (Papilionaceace)
are mere species viz. Pongamia glabra also exists.
Pongamia seed oil as a bio- fuel has physical properties very
similar to conventional diesel. Emission properties, however, are
cleaner for Bio-fuel than for conventional diesel.