PONGAMIA SEED: A POSSIBLE SOURCE OF GREEN ENERGY FOR POWER GENERATION
Keywords:Pongamia pinnata, pongamia seed, seed viability, biodiesel, electrical efficiency, engine study
Pongamia (Pongamia pinnata) is a prospective biofuel plant with 35 to 45% seed oil. The physical and chemical characteristics of pongamia oil are quite comparable to those of diesel. Pongamia seed oil has been considered as a possible biodiesel source for the past 10 years. The high viscosity and conradson carbon residue of pongamia oil, however, preclude its usage in this capacity. Thus, methyl ester was produced from pongamia oil by optimising the different parameters of transesterification reaction viz., reaction time (90 minutes), amount of catalysist (1.5 wt.%), amount of methanol (210 ml per liter of oil) and optimum temperature (50 °C)
needed to complete the conversion of oil into methyl ester. The produced methyl ester was employed as fuel instead of diesel in the engine test using a single-cylinder, naturally aspirated, direct injection diesel engine. Parameters such engine speed, electrical efficiency, lower and higher heating values, and fuel consumption were investigated. Speed regulation and voltage regulation in the engine experiment provided clear evident that the biodiesel from pongamia oil could be used in an existing diesel engine without any engine modifications. The physical and chemical properties of the methyl ester were also estimated. The biodiesel produced from quality pongamia seed meets the cetane number (52.90) and iodine value (99) as per the biodiesel quality specifications and can be used in varied climatic conditions.