Down-Stream Industry

Developing a Sustainable Production (SP) of Municipal Biomass

The Weimar Enterprise Sdn Bhd (WEIMAR) Downstream consists of the cultivation of a 3-acre castor oil plantation currently in the Research and Development (R&D) stages, which reaps benefits from the upstream and middle-stream output. Specifically, compost made from the solid food waste collected in the upstream stage is then used to fertilize the castor oil plants in the downstream stage.

3,000 Benefits of the Castor Oil Plant

The castor oil plant belongs to the spurge family known as Euphorbiaceae and is a species of flowering plant originating from the regions of Egypt, Ethiopia and India. Today, castor oil plantations can now be found in China, Brazil, Thailand and even Malaysia.

The husk of the castor bean is recognized as a great organic fertilizer whereas the leaves of the castor oil are also food to the purposeful Eri Silkworms. The stalks of the castor oil plant can also be processed into paper as well.

The bean of the castor oil plant (also known scientifically as Ricinus communis) contains castor oil, a pale yellow liquid used in manufacturing soaps, hydraulic and brake fluids, lubricants, dielectric fluid, paints, coatings, dyes, paper, rubber, synthetic resins and varnishes, jet engine lubricants, motor oil, cold resistant plastics, ink, waxes, nylon, polishes, perfumes, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

To date, it is estimated that there are over 3,000 applicable uses of castor oil, with more research and development projects still pending. One of the more promising up-and-coming breakthroughs includes the discovery of the anti-tumor property in castor, which makes this bean viable in future chemotherapy and cancer treatments.

In 2008, oil extracted from the castor bean was also used in the production of biodiesel fuel and is highly regarded as a great alternative to the traditional fossil fuel. Due to the extra presence of the hydroxyl group in castor oil, this product is also much more expensive as compared to sunflower, canola or soybean oil.

The Origin of Castor Oil Beans

Despite its many uses, the castor oil bean is extremely poisonous. Nevertheless, implementation of the castor bean can be traced all the way to the Ancient Egyptian times (circa 4000 B.C.) when the extracted oil from the castor bean was used to light wick lamps. Today, it is estimated that over 1.5 million tons of castor seed is produced every year with the leading producing countries being India (with over 60% of the global yield) followed closely by China and Brazil.

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