Tag Archives: Palm-oil

Palm Monoculture Bad for Birds

Palm_Oil_ForestBy Andrew M. Sugden

Science – The conversion of tropical forest to oil palm plantations has rapidly increased over the past decade, predominantly in Southeast Asia, where such cultivation now dominates over 2 million hectares. Substantial biodiversity loss accompanies such conversion, but little is known of the ecology of the resulting landscape. Azhar et al.’s survey of bird faunas in plantations and logged swamp forest in Malaysia shows that guilds were affected in different ways. Notably, raptors were more abundant in plantations than in logged forest, whereas the reverse was true for insectivores and granivores. Patterns within plantations were also influenced by the management regime (e.g., smallholding versus estate) and proximity to forest. Edwards et al. surveyed the functional diversity—a measure incorporating foraging, morphology, and behavior—of bird faunas across habitat gradients (from plantation to logged and primary forests) in Borneo. Functional diversity was similar between logged and primary forest but greatly reduced in plantations, with just a few generalist species filling a wide range of functional roles. These studies demonstrate that continued conversion from logged forest to oil palm plantation will lead to further losses of species and functional diversity.

Source: Science, 3th May, 2013
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Embrapa research the bottlenecks of biodiesel production from palm oil

Pailm oleoEmbrapa Agroenergy – Dendê has been considered as a promising raw material for biodiesel production for its high oil productivity and, the fact that has a well established productive system. However, some characteristics of the “palm oil” still require the addition of other oils and fats on the processing procedures to obtain biofuel.
According Dra Itânia Soares, researcher from Embrapa Agroenergy, the acidity, the main inconvenience of the palm oil, fluctuate depending of several factors, being around 5%, while of the soy oil is around 0.5%. The use of oleaginous acids raw materials in the biodiesel production entails to add further steps to the process, which increases the production costs. Using only acid oil, it is common to do primarily the esterification of free fatty acids and then the transesterelization
Embrapa Agroenergy has been testing differents ways to reduce these steps, optimizing the production process and reducing the production cost of fuel. These researches will have increasing from 2013, when the Center and a network of partners begins executing the research project called “Dendepalm” – Strategies genomic and adding value to the supply chain of palm oil – with funding from the “Financier of Studies and Projects” – FINEP.
The challenge extends beyond the biodiesel production, since the final product must attend the quality parameters which is established by the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuel (ANP). The purification of Biodiesel directly impacts on the quality parameters of the fuel, for example, the water content, in the laboratory level, task that requires attention, ressallta Dra Dra. Itânia.
It is necessary to be attentive to the impact that the addition of biodiesel from palm on petroleum diesel may cause in the final results of the physicochemical analyzes. That is why, one Center’s objective is also study the methods of controlling product quality. “We are working to optimize the biodiesel production process in a 5 liter reactor to develop a methodology for analyzing, in partnership with ANP,” she adds.

Source: Biocombustível, Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento, January 11st 2013
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