Oil cake from biofuel extraction further supports India’s ‘smokeless’ villages

By Babita Bohra, ICRAF-South Asia Office, Delhi

In partnership with the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Bangalore and the District Panchayath of Hassan in India, a program to support the integration of oil-bearing trees in agricultural landscapes1 is contributing to energy security amongst communities in five villages in more than one way.

The Biofuels project, led by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is providing smallholder farmers in energy-stressed villages with quality plant material and technical assistance to grow native or locally adapted oilseed trees such as pongamia (Pongamia pinnata), simarouba (Simarouba glauca), mahua (Madhuca longifolia), neem (Azadirachta indica), and other suitable species. The oil-bearing seeds are extracted for their oil, a biofuel which is used to run generators and other machinery. Expelling oil from seeds leaves behind an oil-rich fibrous mass known as an oil cake.

V R Kumari and VR Netra of Huvinnahalli village, Hassan district. Photo by Babita Bohra/ ICRAF

V R Kumari and VR Netra of Huvinnahalli village, Hassan district. Photo by Babita Bohra/ ICRAF

Experiments have shown that the oil cake works as an effective catalyst in biogas digesters. At a 1: 10 ratio of oil cake to cow dung, the oil cake increases biogas production by 10-25%. The oilcake is also added to speed up biogas production in the cold season, when the digesters slow down. The five village has biodigesters that are supplying cooking gas to all 289 households (179 of these were installed through the partnership), using cow dung and other organic waste as substrate.

Hassan Biofuel Park (UAS) is now training the communities in the use of oilcake in their biodigesters.

As a result of the biofuel and biogas generation initiatives, the villages of Huvinnahalli, Jyothimallapura, Halenahalli and Malligevaalu have joined Kinnarahalli in being declared ‘smokeless.’

Local energy generation also results in saved time and labour as well as environmental protection, as trees and shrubs that would have been used as fuelwood are preserved.


Babita Bohra is Programme Scientific Officer based at ICRAF-South Asia Office, Delhi

See related story:
Creating a ‘smokeless’ village in India







Daisy Ouya

Daisy Ouya is a science writer and communications specialist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Over the past 15 years she has been packaging and disseminating scientific knowledge in the fields of entomology, agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS research, and marine science. Daisy is a Board-certified Editor in the Life Sciences (bels.org) and has a Masters’ degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut, USA. Her BSc is from the University of Nairobi in her native Kenya. She has worked as a journal editor, science writer, publisher, and communications strategist with various organizations. She joined ICRAF in July 2012. Twitter: @daisyouya

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