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Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1702–1707

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Energy Conversion and Management

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/enconman

Experimental investigation of jojoba as a renewable energy source

Mohamad I. Al-Widyan a, Mu’taz A. Al-Muhtaseb b,*
Mechanical Engineering Department, Jordan University of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan
Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, University of Jordan, PO Box 961060, Amman 11196, Jordan

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This work examined jojoba (oil and cake) as possible alternative fuel sources. Jojoba is a shrub that grows
Available online 21 January 2010 very well in deserts and its cake is the solid part produced upon processing of the jojoba seeds for oil
extraction. In this study, pure jojoba oil and 50/50 blends with diesel fuel were tested as fuels in a single
Keywords: cylinder diesel engine. The diesel fuel was the baseline of comparison throughout the runs. The cake was
Jojoba tested for both direct combustion (pellets) and as a substrate for biogas production. The pellets were
Jojoba oil formed by compacting the cake in cylindrical dies using a hydraulic press while the biogasification
Jojoba cake
was conducted in an anaerobic digester model Bioflo 110 from Brunswick. The findings indicate that
the optimum injection pressure for jojoba oil in the engine is 210 bars at which engine speed was max-
Biodiesel imum (2700 rpm), NOx and CO emissions as well as exhaust temperature were minimum. Using jojoba
Diesel engines cake for biogasification resulted in a yield of about 600 ml biogas per 400 g of jojoba cake. Burning jojoba
Solid biomass compacted cake (pellets) for direct combustion in a stove indicated that jojoba cake sustained a temper-
ature in excess of 300 °C for a reasonable amount of time and that the cake was very competitive to wood
and has energy content more than most types of wood. Overall, it may be stated that both jojoba oil and
cake hold real promise as alternative energy sources.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction water than many other crops, withstands salinity, apparently has
a low fertilizer requirement and withstands desert heat without
Jojoba is a semi-arid evergreen shrub; it grows wild in the des- requiring much water or shade. Moreover, its water requirement
ert of south-western United States and north-western Mexico. is timed to meet the scarcity of rainfall in deserts. For instance, it
However, the plant is cultivated in some of the Middle East and La- needs only little water during the dry months, when water is most
tin American countries nowadays. Jojoba seeds contain about 40– scarce [3,7]. Furthermore, being of biomass origin, it enjoys some
50% of unique oil–wax which is composed mainly of straight chain of the very attractive advantages as an alternative energy source
monoesters in the range of C20–C44. This unique oil–wax is used by being renewable, widely available, and contains much less sul-
mainly in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry, as a lubri- fur and nitrogen. The latter makes it more environment-friendly
cant, in furniture and floor waxes, auto polish and long-burning relative to fossil sources [8,9].
candles. To date, there are no reports of jojoba plants affected by cata-
Jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-ba) is 0.7–1.0 m high, easily recog- strophic diseases or insect pests. It requires no specialized cultiva-
nized by its thick, leathery, bluish green leaves and dark brown tion equipment. In the desert where rainfall is less than 100 mm
nutlike fruit. Jojoba (Simmondisa chincnsis) is a slow growing per year, jojoba plants persist as small stunted bushes and survive
perennial plant that was unknown to commercial agriculture for temperatures of up to 45 °C. Under more favorable conditions, jo-
a long time [1,2,9]. Jojoba seeds contain premium oil with unique joba plants thrive and potentially have a life span of up to
characteristics compared to many oil plants in the vegetable king- 100 years [1,2].
dom. Therefore, it seems to have exceptional commercial promise. New uses could arise related to the search of new energetic
Around the world are huge tracts of semi-arid land where jojoba crops. Radwan et al. [3] appears to be among the first to utilize jo-
has the potential to become an important cash crop. joba methyl ester (JME) as diesel fuel and tested the pure oil and its
Jojoba has a good chance of being very profitable as it is robust, blends with gas oil in shock tube experiments. They showed that
drought tolerant, grows in soils of marginal fertility, needs less the new fuel oil has reasonable ignition delay characteristics as
compared to gas oil. The jojoba raw oil is now produced success-
fully in Egypt and the plant is being cultivated in many places in
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +962 7 99 66 00 12.
E-mail addresses: malwidyan@kfu.edu.sa (M.I. Al-Widyan), almuhtaseb.mutaz@ the Egyptian desert. Economic preparation of two grades of JME
gmail.com (M.A. Al-Muhtaseb). was achieved by Radwan et al. [3].

0196-8904/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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M.I. Al-Widyan, M.A. Al-Muhtaseb / Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1702–1707 1703

As for the jojoba oil, having 22–44 carbon atoms, makes it a Table 1
good combustion substance [2]. Moreover, the oil has an energy Physical and chemical characteristics of local jojoba oil compared with literature
values [2].
content of approximately 42.4 MJ/kg, ranking it very high among
all vegetable oils and quite comparable to that of diesel fuel but, Characteristic Value for this Corresponding value from
unlike diesel, releases almost zero SOx emissions and significantly study literature

less NOx emissions once burned [5]. All these factors contribute to Specific gravity at 25 °C 0.861 0.863
making jojoba solids and jojoba oil an attractive source of alterna- Flash point/open-cup (°C) 275 295
Flash point/closed-cup (°C) 224 **
tive fuel. In addition, it should be noted that the Jordan University Fire point (°C) 322 338
of Science and Technology (JUST) campus hosts a small field of jo- Pour point (°C) 8.0 9.0
joba containing about 10,000 jojoba trees with a seed yield of 1.5– Aniline point (°C) 52.9 **

2.0 tons per year. It should be noted that jojoba oil may be obtained Carbon residue (%wt) 0.12 0.10
Extraction method (%water) 0.0 **
by several different methods including mechanical methods such **
Moisture content by infrared 0.64
as pressing and extrusion and chemical methods such as leaching (%water)
using organic solvents [2]. Iodine value (g/100 g) 81 82
Literature search indicates that jojoba oil was studied as an Saponification value 88 92
pH 6.95–7.34 **
alternative fuel. Jojoba oil was examined as biodiesel by transeste- **
Calorific value (cal/g) 10086.0
rification with methanol and sodium methoxide as the catalyst [6]. **
Foaming (ml) 3–5
Other studies evaluated diesel engine performance and emissions TAN (mg KOH/g) 0.36 **
using blends of jojoba oil and diesel fuel at a fixed injection pres- TBN (mg KOH/g) 1.0 **

sure and found that the soot number decreases with the increase Refractive index at 25 °C 1.4593 1.465
of jojoba oil percentage in the fuel blend [5]. However, in all the
studies examined in our literature search, pure untreated jojoba
oil was not directly used as a substitute liquid fuel or blended with literature for comparison purposes. Throughout the experiments,
diesel in different percentages under different injector pressures as the straight (100%) diesel was used as the reference baseline. In
is the case in this current study. Also, according to our search of rel- all engine runs throughout the experiments, diesel fuel was used
evant literature, it may be stated that no study was found that con- to start and shutdown the engine in 15-min intervals to, respec-
sidered the jojoba cake as a source of energy, an important tively, attain steady-state operation and clean up the engine feed-
component of our current work. ing system and lines to prepare for the next runs.
As a result of the reasoning and arguments just presented and The engine used in the tests was a single cylinder, naturally
based on a set of relevant and pressing facts in the Jordanian en- aspirated, direct injection, air-cooled Lombardini engine model
ergy context that include, among others, the lack of local energy re- 6LD360. More engine specifications are listed in Table 3. In an at-
sources, the import of almost all the energy requirements in tempt to make the switch from a fuel (blend) to another quick
addition to the fact that the vast majority of Jordan lies in an arid and convenient, the original fuel storage tank of the engine was re-
to semi-arid region, this study was conducted to investigate the placed with a modified one. The new tank, which was fabricated
technical feasibility and potential contribution of jojoba as an and used in a former study [11], is made of thin sheets with three
alternative renewable energy source. In fact, additional signifi- separate compartments and the necessary valves to achieve this
cance of this work stems from the fact that the facts reported above purpose. The purpose of this modification is to make one tank for
for the Jordanian case represent the status quo in many other the Diesel and anther one for jojoba. This modification allows the
developing countries as well. blending of the diesel and jojoba oils.
In this study, the jojoba oil will be examined as a fuel in a diesel As indicated earlier, the experimental setup in this study en-
engine. The cake, which is the solid by-product of seed processing tailed testing the fuels under varying injection pressures, which
for oil extraction, will be examined as both a solid fuel in com- is of prime importance as long as biodiesel fuels are concerned. It
pacted form (pellets) for direct combustion in a stove, and as a sub- should be noted that the engine standard (original) injector pres-
strate for anaerobic digestion for biogas production. It is sure was 195 bars. Two other injection pressures were considered
established that solid biomass burns in three phases: moisture in this work; one was lower and the other was higher than the ori-
evaporation, flaming combustion and finally glowing combustion ginal. Specifically, the two additional injection pressures were 185
or charring. It should be noted, however, that although moisture and 210 bars. The injection pressure was modified by a procedure
evaporation is listed as an initial phase, it may extend over the that involves mainly utilizing standard manufacturer-provided
whole burning process [8]. As the jojoba cake is simply an organic rings (washers) with given thicknesses that would be inserted in
material, subjecting it to anaerobic conditions under proper pro- the injector assembly to provide a given desired injection pressure,
cess conditions shall result in the production of biogas. The latter each 0.1 mm washer thickness increased the injection pressure by
is a hydrocarbon gaseous fuel that can have wide applications as 10 bars. In this study, the injector pressure was controlled by using
an energy source. different washer thicknesses, namely, 0.05 mm, 0.10 mm, and
0.15 mm.

2. Materials and methods

Table 2
2.1. Jojoba oil as a diesel engine fuel The proximate analysis of jojoba cake used in this study.

Component Percentage
The jojoba oil used in this experiment was commercially pro-
C (carbon) 52.91
duced in a local company called FABICO located in Amman, Jordan. H (hydrogen) 7.71
About 20 gallons of jojoba oil were bought into the lab and were N (nitrogen) 2.18
used as an engine fuel in pure form (100% jojoba oil), as well as a O (oxygen) 22.5
50/50 blend with local diesel (B50). Table 1 presents several phys- S (sulfur) 0.0
Ash 14.7
ical and chemical characteristics of the local jojoba oil used in our
Total 100
experiments along with corresponding jojoba values reported in
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1704 M.I. Al-Widyan, M.A. Al-Muhtaseb / Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1702–1707

Table 3
Specifications of the Lombardini engine used in this work [13].

Type Cylinder Bore  stroke Displ Speed Max. power Max. Dry Dimension
(N) (mm  mm) (cm3) (rpm) torque weight (L  W  H)
N 80/1269 CEE-ISO NB ISO 3046 NA ISO 3046/1
(Nm) (kg) (mm)
1585 (kW/HP) IFN (kW/HP) ICXN (kW/HP)
6LD360 1 82  68 359 3600 5.5/7.5 5.1/7.0 4,7/6,4 16.8 at 44 382  427  476

In this work, it was elected to regard the injection pressure as the (pellets) and as a substrate for biogasification was obtained from
fundamental independent variable and report findings versus injec- pressing the jojoba seeds in a screw auger. In fact, the screw ma-
tion pressure. The findings that pertain to engine performance in this chine (extruder) was developed and fabricated at JUST Engineering
part of the work included the influence of injection pressure on the Workshops.
following: engine speed; exhaust emissions (NOx and CO and SOx);
and exhaust temperature for each of the three fuels (pure diesel;
2.2.1. Direct combustion of compacted jojoba cake
50/50 blend, and pure jojoba oil). Engine speed was measured by a
As a first step in the combustion of the compacted solid cake,
compact tachometer model M79 RH while a Unigas 3000 gas ana-
samples of the cake were sent to the Central Labs of the Institute
lyzer was used to measure the emissions and exhaust temperature.
of Earth and Environment Sciences at al-Bayt University, Jordan,
The measurement accuracies were as follows: CO ± 4% rdg
for proximate analysis. The results are reported in Table 2. In addi-
2000 ppm; NO, NOx ± 5 ppm < 125 ppm; SO2 ± 5 ppm < 125 ppm,
tion, standard methods were used to measure the total organic car-
the resolution of CO, NO, NOx, and SOx was 1.0 ppm.
bon of the cake where it was found to make more than 85%, which
is a good indicator of a good biomass material for combustion.
2.2. Jojoba cake Uniform amounts of the cake weighing about 12 g with mois-
ture content of 5.38% were compressed at a pressure of 35 MPa
The cake, which is the solid byproduct of oil extraction, that was
used in this study for both direct combustion in compacted form
2700 Pure Diesel
0.14% Mix 50% 50%
Engine speed (rpm)

Pure Jojoba
CO %

Pure Diesel 0.06%
Mix 50% 50%
2100 0.04%
Pure Jojoba

2000 0.02%
180 185 190 195 200 205 210 215
Injection pressure (bar) 0.00%
180 185 190 195 200 205 210 215
Fig. 1. Variation of engine speed with injection pressure. Injection pressure (bar)
Fig. 3. Variation of CO emission in the engine exhaust with injection pressure.


Pure Diesel
35 Mix 50% 50% Pure Diesel
Exhuast temperature (o C)

Pure Jojoba
305 Mix 50% 50%
NOx (ppm)

Pure Jojoba


15 225
180 185 190 195 200 205 210 215 180 185 190 195 200 205 210 215
Injection pressure (bar) Injecton pressure (bar)
Fig. 2. Variation of NOx emission with injection pressure. Fig. 4. Variation of exhaust gas temperature with injection pressure.
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in a cylindrical die using a hydraulic press to produce uniform In addition, the material volatile solids before and after the
cylindrical crumbles (pellets) with a diameter of 2.5 cm and height digestion process were measured using a standard procedure that
of 3.0 cm corresponding to a unit volume of 14.70 cm3. The pellets entailed oven drying several samples at 105 °C for 24 h and then
were burned inside a metal stove equipped with an electric fan to incinerating in muffle furnace at 550 °C for about 1 h. The differ-
force air to the combustion chamber at ambient conditions. ence in weight before and after incineration is the volatile solids
Approximately 100 ml of kerosene was sprayed onto each batch on a mass basis. The fractional average value of two samples was
of pellets to overcome the poor ignitability of the pellets and aid used to calculate volatile organic solids index (VOSI) according to
in starting the combustion process. Each batch consisted of pellets the formula [2]
weight of about 500 g.
VOSI ¼ VOS of raw material=ðVOS of biodegradable materialÞ
Thermocouples connected to a digital thermometer were used
to measure temperatures at different points in the stove and the
stack. Flame and flue gas temperatures were measured at predeter-
3. Results and discussion
mined points, specifically, at 5 cm and 15 cm from the floor sur-
face. In addition, burning time was measured using a stop watch.
3.1. Jojoba oil as diesel engine fuel
Both the flame and flue gas temperatures were reported versus
burning time.
The variation of engine speed with injection pressure, Pi, is
shown in Fig. 1 that shows an apparent increase in engine speed
2.2.2. Jojoba cake as a substrate for biogasification with increasing injection pressure for all the fuels indicating better
Batches of the cake material weighing about 4050 g each were engine performance with Pi. Fig. 1 also shows that at any given Pi in
mixed thoroughly with tap water to make slurry with moisture the range under study, the highest engine speed was consistently
content of 90 ± 1%. The slurry was then introduced into a state-
of-the-art computer-controlled anaerobic digester model Bioflo
110 from Brunswick. 6000
The process conditions considered in this work were tempera-
ture and mixing frequency. Three levels of temperature were used
in this study, namely, 22 °C, 37 °C, and 55 °C, which correspond to 0 rpm
psychrophilic (ambient), mesophilic, and thermophilic ranges,
respectively. Also, three mixing frequencies at each temperature
Biogas yield (ml)

4000 50 rpm
level were used, namely, 0, 50, and 100 rpm. The biogas yield
was measured using simple water displacement device that was 100 rpm
locally fabricated at JUST Engineering Workshops.

Forced 1000
Flame temp. (C)

300 20 25 30 35 40
200 Temperature (oC)
100 Fig. 7. Effect of temperature on biogas yield from jojoba cake.
0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44
Burning time (Min.)
Fig. 5. Variation of furnace temperature over the burning time under natural and
forced combustion air.

Natural 4000
Biogas yield (ml)

Exhaust temp. (C)

500 3000 22 C

400 37 C
300 55 C


0 0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 0 50 1 00
Burning time (Min.) Mixing speed (rpm)
Fig. 6. Variation of flue gas temperature over the burning time. Fig. 8. Effect of mixing speed on the biogas yield for jojoba cake.
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1706 M.I. Al-Widyan, M.A. Al-Muhtaseb / Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1702–1707

attained for the pure jojoba oil followed by pure diesel and finally 1500
the blend. Fig. 2 depicts the influence of Pi on the NOx emission. It

Cumulative biogas yield (ml)

may be noted from Fig. 2 that pure jojoba and the blend resulted in 0 rpm
50 rpm
less NOx than diesel at the 185 and 210 bars but diesel fuel emitted 100 rpm
less NOx at the 190 bars. In contrast, compared to the other two 1000
fuels, diesel fuel burned better at the 195 and 210 bars as evi-
denced by less CO emission but deteriorated at the lower Pi as de-
picted in Fig. 3. As long as the exhaust gas temperature, Tex, is
concerned, it may be readily seen form Fig. 4 that at Pi of 195 bars 500
or higher, the engine performed well with all the fuels as demon-
strated by lower Texh. At the lower Pi of 185 bars, the conversion of
thermal energy into mechanical has deteriorated as expressed in
higher Texh. It should be noted here that the engine is optimized 0 2 4 6 8 10
to operate at its original injection pressure, which is 190 bars. Time (days)
Fig. 11. Cumulative biogas yield with time for jojoba cake at 55 °C.
3.2. Jojoba cake

3.2.1. Direct combustion of jojoba cake pellets

a general trend similar to that of the flame as may be readily ex-
Fig. 5 depicts the variation of flame temperature, Tf, of cake
pected. Again, the cooling effect of forced air is more apparent here,
combustion over the burning time for both natural and forced air
which also explains why the Texh for natural air, unlike forced air, is
schemes. The figure indicates that, at least qualitatively, there are
almost the same as Tf. The findings of this part of the work are in
no significant differences between the two schemes and even
line with the results of other former similar studies [12].
shows an advantage for the natural air scheme. It may be theorized
in this regard that the cooling effect of forced air may well have
more than offset the oxygen availability. Fig. 5 also shows that a 3.2.2. Jojoba cake as a substrate for biogasification
burning time of each batch spanned over about 45 min during Figs. 7–9 show the effect of process temperature on biogas yield
more than 30 min of which the flame sustained a temperature in indicating a favorable effect of temperature up to 37 °C at all agi-
excess of 300 °C. The exhaust gas temperature is shown in Fig. 6 tating speeds which is in line with the findings by other research-
from which it may be readily seen that flame temperature follows ers in the field. On the other hand, no conclusive or consistent
trend could be inferred from the effect of the mixing speed on bio-
gas yield at any given temperature. These measurements were ta-
ken from the beginning of the process, the time duration
calculation began at the beginning of the process immediately.
Figs. 10 and 11 show the cumulative biogas yield over the process
duration. Both figures indicate the positive effect of mixing (agita-
tion) on biogas yield as suggested by other similar studies.

4. Conclusion

At the end of this work and based on the findings reported

above, it may be concluded that jojoba as a wild desert shrub holds
a genuine merit as a possible source of alternative, renewable en-
ergy that is badly needed in many world regions. As such, jojoba is
worthy of extra exploitation and a more scrutinized study to eval-
uate its potential to the fullest possible extent. Jojoba oil can serve
as a supplemental fuel on its own or as blend with diesel fuel in
Fig. 9. Interaction plot for biogas yield of jojoba cake. compression-ignition engines. On the other hand, jojoba cake,
which is the byproduct of jojoba oil extraction, showed encourag-
ing behavior as both a solid fuel of biomass origin and as a sub-
1400 strate for a biogasification process. When burned in compacted
form, jojoba cake compared favorably with most types of wood
Cumulative biogas yield (ml)

1200 0 rpm
50 rpm
and when used as a raw material in an anaerobic digestion process
1000 100 rpm produced good amounts of biogas per unit mass dry matter.

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