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Cassava as Bio Fuel

This crop is called as famine crop in some parts of the world.Thanks to the scientists in getting cassava as biofuel from this crop.Disadvantage of this crop is, it will take time bound for cultivation and immediately it should be processed for bio fuel. It is major breakthrough in innovative biofuel field.

Venezuela Pioneers Alternative Fuel from Cassava Root

Cassava: fuel of the future?

Cassava has become an important biofuel crop. Apart from its traditional role as a food crop, Cassava has increased its value as a fuel commodity.

The following article highlights the variety of uses the cassava has. In recent years cassava imports have been increasing as a result of the large Haitian population in The Bahamas. In the Haitian diet, cassava is an important source of starch.



The technology for converting cassava into the biofuel Ethanol is being perfected and, in time that technology could be used here to convert Bahamian grown cassava into Ethanol.

Insuring against famine

A number of other factors explain this rapid expansion, especially on smallholdings run by poor farmers, where cassava is often grown together with other crops. Cassava has the advantage of being relatively undemanding, and will thrive on poor and even tired soils, where few other crops will grow. In places where land is scarce, it also serves as food security for many villagers vulnerable to malnutrition. With cassava, they can be more confident of having a low-cost, plentiful supply of calories than they would have had they grown cereals. For farmers living close to towns, it is a valuable cash crop, with a flourishing market.

Cassava, fuel of the future?

At a time when oil prices are soaring and global reserves dwindling, the spotlight is turning to ethanol made from fermented cassava starch, a particularly promising resource. Similar to other types of ethanol obtained from agricultural products, it can be used to substitute between 10% and 25% of petrol in vehicles with standard engines, and up to 100% in vehicles whose engines have been adapted.



Brazil, the world’s leading producer of these substitute fuels or biofuels, makes more than 120 million hl per year from sugarcane and cassava. In Thailand and China, several projects for manufacturing cassava-based biofuel on an industrial scale are under way.

Courtesy: Godfrey Eneas

Ethanol from Cassava

Ethanol is generally produced by the fermentation of sugar, cellulose, or converted starch and has a long history. In Nigeria, local production of ethanol from maize, guinea corn, millet, other starchy substrates, and cellulose is as old as the country itself. Apart from food and pharmaceutical uses, ethanol is finding itself alternative usse for biofuel in most of the developed world for the following reasons:

Cassava Ethanol Process Flowchart

Process Flow Chart

Process Flow Chart

* It is not poisonous.

* It does not cause air pollution or any environmental hazard.

* It does not contribute to the greenhouse effect problem (CO2 addition to the atmosphere, causing global warming).

* It has a higher octane rating than petrol as a fuel. That is, ethanol is an octane booster and anti-knocking agent.

* It is an excellent raw material for synthetic chemicals.

* Ethanol provides jobs and economic development in rural areas.

* Ethanol reduces country’s dependence on petroleum and it is a source of non-oil revenue for any producing country.

* Ethanol is capable of reducing the adverse foreign trade balance.

Equipment required

* Peeler

* Grater

* Jet cooker

* Fermentor

* Distiller

* Steam boiler

* Generator

* Efficient treatment plant


Each year, an estimated 60 million tonnes of starch are extracted from a wide range of cereal, root and tuber crops for use in a staggering variety of products: as stabilizers in soups and frozen food, as coating on pills and paper, as adhesives on stamps and plywood, as a stiffening agent in textiles, as raw material for making ethanol, and even as binder in concrete. Around 10% of that starch comes from cassava roots, a crop better known as the staple food of millions of low-income rural people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.



Highly competitive. As a crop, cassava already has advantages in production, such as high yields per hectare, tolerance to drought and degraded soils, and great flexibility in planting and harvesting. As a source of starch, it is highly competitive: the root contains more starch, by dry weight, than almost any other food crop, and the starch is easy to extract using simple technologies.

Guide to cassava starch extraction…

A forthcoming FAO guide to cassava starch extraction says all steps in the process – from harvesting of the roots to final drying of the starch – “must be carried out in the shortest possible time”. For example, harvested roots must be delivered to the processing plant within 48 hours to prevent deterioration.

After washing and peeling, roots are grated to release starch granules. The “starch milk” – water containing suspended granules – in then separated from the pulp, after which the granules are separated from the water by sedimentation or in a centrifuge. At that point, the starch requires solar or artificial drying to remove moisture before being milled, sieved and packed. In artisanal production systems, daily starch output ranges from 50 to 60 kg of starch per worker, while semi-mechanized processing can yield up to 10 tonnes a day. In modern, fully mechanized starch extraction plants, daily output is as high as 150 tonnes.

All extraction systems produce a considerable quantity of useful residues. Root peelings can be recycled as fertilizer and animal feed. Once dried, the discarded fibre can be sold as flocculent to the mining industry, while low-density starch lost during sedimentation is used as pig feed.

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