Tobacco Potential as Renewable Energy Resources
A group of scientists from School of Biological Sciences, United Kingdom, found that one of tobacco species, i.e. Nicotiana glauca, produced a compound which could be utilized as biodiesel fuel. The compound could be directly utilized as fuel or processed to be other oil products. What is interesting from this species is that it can grow well in hot and barren condition. It does not need fertile area in order to reach its maximum size. In addition, it can grow in an area with the amount of rainfall of 200 mm per year or temperature of above 40 Celcius degrees.
“This is an important factor. It means that to propagate this species, we do not need to use fields which are for food plants,” Paul Fraser said, one of researchers from School of Biological Sciences. “Now, many farmers are afraid of losing some parts of their field used to cultivate biofuel-source plants. Our finding can overcome this issue,” he continued. From the preliminary study, it is known that Nicotiana glauca can grow in the condition of desert climate which is commonly around in United Arab Emirates, Northern Africa and several dry areas all over the globe. It is also ensured that Nicotiana glauca can become the source of bioethanol and biodiesel, which can be utilized as fuel in its native form. However, these kind of fuel are more commonly utilized as addictive substance to reduce particulation level, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon in diesel-machine vehicle.
According to the data from International Energy Agency, biofuel has great potential to meet the need of fuel, up to more than a quarter of world fuel demand for transportation industry in 2050. European Union has prepared budget of 5,77 million Euro (about 71,8 billion Rupiah) to undertake an advanced study through MultiBioPro project, involving industrialist and academician partners. The project aims to explore the knowledge dealing with biological processes and increase the use of renewable energy resources. They hope that through this project, there will be such technology that can significantly reduce the consumption of fossil-based fuel, which can eventually reduce the emission of green-house gases.