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Petroleum is the fossil energy and industrial chemicals which are extensively applied in the world now. reported in June 2011 that petroleum reserve and production ratio was 46.2 years. That is to say, world oil supplies will run out in 30-50 years at current production rate. Looking for new petroleum substitutes has been a focus subject of world. At present, only plant oil is able to replace petroleum??which can be not only energy but also industrial chemicals. In this respect, oil plants been researched and applied in the world are soya, peanut, rape, castor, jatropha, yellow horn, pistacia sinensis bge, S. wilsoniana Sojak, oil palm and olive etc. Soya, peanut and rape are edible oil plants. Castor, jatropha, yellow horn, pistacia sinensis bge, S. wilsoniana Sojak, oil palm and olive are unedible ones, using them to replace petroleum is in line with the state industrial policy. Compared with other oil plants, castor has the following features:
1. Short production cycle. For many woody oil plants, it takes 3-5 years to bear fruits, it will be much longer to obtain high yield. For castor, it only needs several months from planting to harvest. 
2. High oil production per unit area. At present, oil production of castor high yielding variety can be above 2.25t per hectare. In areas with good sunshine such as Xinjiang province etc., the oil production will be higher. Other oil plants are far from to obtain such production.
3. Strong adaptability and not fight for land with grain and cotton. Castor is drought-resistant, barren-resistant and salt-resistant.Saline and alkaline land, slopeland and  hilly land etc. are all suitable to plant castor. Castor can also be planted on the edge of the field and around the houses, it is able to grow even in the areas with high levels of pollution. Currently in China, there are 5.3 million h?O of serious soil and water loss land, 2.6 million h?O of sandy farmland, 6 million h?O of land polluted by ? Three wastes? and nearly 33 million h?O of saline and alkaline land, all of these are vast land for castor planting.
4. Convenient harvest. Compared with woody oil plants, castor plants are short, fruit ears are big, which is convenient to harvest. Now sowing, intertill, weeding, fertilization and shelling of castor can all be done by machines. Castor harvester passed the provincial level appraisal in Oct. 2012 and will be produced in large scale in the near future, complete mechanized farming of castor in many areas will come true by that time, which will reduce the human labor investment,  cut the planting cost and increase farmers' engagement in castor planting.
5. Wide range of uses. There are more than 3000 deep processed products of castor oil. Castor oil is a kind of plant oil that has most processed products and widest range of uses.
6. High comparative benefit. It is labor-saving for planting castor. Farmers can obtain high benefit with low investment. The benefit of castor is much higher than that of corn and soya etc. especially in North, Northeast and Northwest China where farmers harvest one time every year
7. Huge market demand. The market demand of castor oil is increasing quickly now. China imports 100000-200000t of castor oil from India every year since 2009 and the import of castor oil is increasing year by year. Predicted only from the development trend of deep processing, world castor oil demand will reach up to 1.5 million tons, that is 3-3.5 million tons of castor beans. If castor is used as bioenergy, the demand will be greater.
For the reason above, castor is regarded as the most promising substitutecrops to replace petroleum. Now many countries view castor from a strategic height. At present the significance of castor planting is: First, people can make full use of the marginal lands, such as saline and alkaline land, slopeland, hillyland, land of turnrow and weir edge etc. Second, the contradiction between supply and demand of castor beans in China can be relieved effectively. Third, it can provide technological reserve to national petroleum strategy.