I bet you, it’s more than the beauty seen on the outside of this tree species found in West Africa; it’s called Krobo Christmas tree. There is a hidden treasure that gives multiple benefits from this species. Aside the aesthetic value it adds to the environment, one of the hidden potentials discovered is what you and I can hardly do without everyday of our life. You wonder what this could be? Here are questions that give clues about what it is.
Did you have your bath with soap this morning? Did you cream your body? Did you eat anything at all that involves frying? I am sure you beginning to guess right but wait a minute. Do you that this same ingredient has the ability to power your vehicle and supply power? Yes! It’s the oil content extracted from the kernel of the seeds of Hildegardia barteri it bears with beautiful flowers on leafless stems during the Christmas season. It has been observed that the kernel which has oil content is edible but only few amongst where it is found consume it. So I decided to check out the inherent properties that could be derived from the oil.
Firstly, I have to use two methods of extraction (Mechanical and Solvent) to determine the one with higher yield. Of course, that of solvent gave oil yield that falls within range reported for commercial vegetable oil (Dawodu, 2009 and Matchet 1963). I went on to evaluate other physicochemical properties such as specific gravity, acid value, iodine value, calorific value, flash and fire points, conradson carbon fatty acid profile; elemental properties such as Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Sulphur, Nitrogen, Lead, Nickel, Cobalt and Cadnium; proximate composition of moisture content, crude protein and ash of both oil and oil-free kernel. Whoa! It’s so amazing that the values of these properties favor its uses both for human consumption and industrial application in the production of bio-fuel (Oluwadare and Adeniyi, 2015). Check out the profile of the oil and oil-free kernel of this species and you will know it worth exploring.
The proximate analysis conducted on the oil-free kernel shows higher constituents after extracting the oil; especially the high content of crude protein in the seed cakes (25.9%) compares favorably with seeds like cowpea (22.7%) and water melon seeds (26%) (Taiwo et al, (2008) indicates that the species could can serve as supplement in the formulation of livestock feed and for human consumption. Lower values of heavy metals was also obtained in the oil free cake .
Lower moisture content was obtained in the oil samples and this optimizes the keeping quality and makes it suitable for biodiesel production. From the elemental analysis, all elements except for carbon and hydrogen content are lower in the oils samples when compared to the seed cake. The sulphur content which is of environmental concern, value obtained compares favorably with the ASTM D6751 standard (0.05 % max) to an extent. While the lower values of heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Ni and Co) obtained in the oil sample, gives a basis for the exploitation of oil from H.
barteri seed as a potential source for clean renewable biodiesel. The values obtained for the physicochemical properties such as specific gravity, viscosity, iodine value, cloud point conradson carbon residue from the physicochemical analysis indicate a good promising quality of biodiesel that will be produced from the oil of H. barteri fruit. Except for the flash and fire point which occurred to be lower than the required ASTM standard. Observations made from the fatty acid profile of the oil samples suggest that the common functional groups are characterized by saturated bonds. Thus, the oil from H. barteri fruit is a stable oil. The calorific or heating value obtained, also compares favorably with that of some oil bearing seeds such as corn oil, rapeseed oil, Jathropha seed oil and soya bean oil and it indicates good combustion quality.
Apart from the few parts of west Africa that consumes the kernel, presently, H. barteri fruit does not have any major applications hence, the natural production of seeds itself remain underutilized. Going by the result obtained from the proximate analysis, the higher percentage of constituents found in the seed cake samples makes the subject species a good source of supplement either for human consumption or animal feed and oil for biodiesel concurrently without causing destructive impact on the trees which could in turn cause hazards to the environment.
Blogpost and pictures submitted by Evelyn Adeniyi Adenike (Nigeria) – evelynadeniyi2004(at)yahoo.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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