Friday, August 10, 2007

Sweet potato is used for bioproducts

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are said to play an important role in the emerging 'carbohydrate economy'. The starch-rich root crop is already being used for the production of liquid biofuels and biogas as well as for bioplastics.

The Chinese government that recently put a moratorium on the use of corn for biofuels has officially named sweet potato as a crop of preference for the production of ethanol instead. Auto manufacturer
Toyota has a large plantation of the tuber in Indonesia to make bioplastics from it. Researchers are also looking into using the crop for the production of biohydrogen.

Sweet potatoes are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth.According to 2004 FAO
statistics world production is 127,000,000 tons . The majority comes from China with a production of 105,000,000 tones from 49,000 km².

The starchy batatas may help us manufacture carbon-neutral bioproducts that replace petroleum, but in any case carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are expected to keep increasing for decades to come. For this reason, scientists find it important to understand the effects of these emissions on the growth of plants. As they have done for many other crops, researchers are trying to find out what will happen to the metabolism of sweet potatoes under increased atmospheric CO2 conditions.

Writing in the
Journal of Plant Biotechnology, Teixeira da Silva and team report results of trials with the tuber. They found significantly increased biomass growth in the crop when it was exposed to increased levels of CO2.

According to CO2 Science, the results mean that for sweet potato plants, as well as many other plants that have been similarly studied, several-fold increases in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration appear to pose no problem to the plants' growth and development. In fact, the more CO2 there has been in the air during these studies, the more biomass the tested plants have typically produced.

Sweet potatoes are good starch producers and may yield some 40 to 50% more of it than corn, white potatoes and wheat. Per hectare, starch productivity can be 3 to 4 times higher than corn, and twice that of cassava. In short, sweet potatoes are set to become important sources of industrial starch, needed to drive the bioeconomy. This carbon-neutral economy is aimed at replacing petroleum products, which contribute to climate change because of their carbon dioxide emissions.

Read the whole article>>


I think it's really an interesting fact about sweet potatoes. They are used for bioproducts like biofules, biogas and they can replace petroleum.
I really have no idea how it tastes... :)

No comments: