Croton megalocarpus is a widespread species in Africa, occurring from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda from Kenya to Zambia and Mozambique. Often found in forests and also used as boundary trees to mark property, croton is drought-tolerant and survives in extreme environments.
Croton trees serve a variety of roles in the landscape and for local communities. For example, trees are valued for their medicinal properties. In traditional use, the bark can be boiled down into an elixir used to treat worms and as medicine for whooping cough, pneumonia, stomach-aches, fevers such as malaria, and abdominal complaints associated with gall bladder and spleen . The species has apiary value, as well, as it produces dark-ambered honey with a strong flavor. The seed is also used in poultry feeds due to its protein content is high (50 percent) and the high nitrogen content of the leaves makes it useful as mulch. Croton wood, also known as musine, has a variety of purposes. In construction, the timber is used for construction, flooring, stools, mortars, beehives, veneer, and plywood. The wood is also suitable for joinery, interior trim, shipbuilding, vehicle bodies, furniture, cabinetwork, railway sleepers and agricultural implements. Additionally, the croton is used as firewood and for charcoal production.
In the Field
In Africa, a small startup hopes the croton nut can become the foundation for cheap, environmentally friendly biofuel. Using trees growing wild in the country, EcoFix (k) converts croton into biodiesel and uses the by-product for poultry feed and fertilizer.
Oil from the nut of the croton has promising non-edible feedstock for biodiesel production. The addition of methanol was successful in reaching conversion efficiency up to 88 percent due to croton oil possessing a free fatty acid value of less than 2 percent. The properties of croton biodiesel meet the minimum requirements of both the ASTM D6751 and EN- 14214 biodiesel standards.
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