Science and Technology Current Affairs

August 10: International Biodiesel Day

The International Biodiesel Day (IBD) is celebrated every year on August 10 in a bid to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels). The day also honours the research experiments by Sir Rudolf Diesel who ran an engine with peanut oil in the year of 1893. His research experiment had predicted that vegetable oil is going to replace the fossil fuels in the next century to fuel different mechanical engines.

About Biodiesel

The Biodiesel is an alternative fuel which can be used in place of fossil fuels. It is manufactured from vegetable oils, recycled grease, algae, and animal fat. It is produced through a chemical process called transesterification, in which glycerine is separated from the vegetable oil or fat. It can be seen as alternative to conventional fossil fuels.

Benefits of Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel. It can be used in diesel engines with little or no modification. It can be produced locally. It is biodegradable, sustainable, non-toxic environment friendly fuel. On burning, it emits 60% less carbon dioxide (CO2). The energy produced by biodiesel on combustion is approximately 90% of that of energy produced by petroleum diesel. It is also used in non-engine applications such as to remove paint etc. Byproducts–methyl esters and glycerine obtained during production of biodiesel can be used preparation of soaps and other products

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Two new species of Cycas discovered

Research conducted on Cycas pschannae, a lone tree found in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, West Bengal has revealed two new species of Cycas to the world. This discovery takes the total number of Cycas species found in India to 14.

Cycas

Cycas are one of the most ancient plants whose fossils date to the Jurassic period. They are often referred to as living fossils. They have evolved on the earth as the first seeded plants and they grow very slowly, adding only a few centimetres every year. Nearly 65% of Cycas are threatened. There are over 100 species of Cycas found across the globe.

Key Facts

Initial studies on the lone Cycas pschannae tree revealed that it was Cycas, a gymnosperm. Further research based on its anatomical and morphological characters led to the discovery of new species of Cycas pschannae and later Cycas dharmrajii in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Cycas dharmrajii is characterised by the abnormal branching habit of its giant trunk and its swollen base. It has well-defined 10 to 28 hook-like structures in the apex of the mega sporophyll which makes it distinct from other Cycas found in the country. Sporophylls are spore-bearing leaf-like female sex organ of the plant. The sporophylls of Cycas pschannae are characterised by the presence of two lateral horn-like structures.

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