Plants as a Direct Source of Fuel
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Euphorbia lathyris exudes a milky latex when cut. However, this plant is not amenable to continuous tapping like some other Euphorbia species. In order to obtain the reduced photosynthetic material, the entire plant is extracted after drying at 70°C to 4 per cent moisture content. The heptane extract is a complex mixture which can be separated into crude fractions by adsorption chromatography on silica gel. The authors have examined the column fractions further by gas chromatography and have obtained structural information on the major components by combined gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy. The latexes of several Euphorbia species contain chemicals which are strong skin and eye irritants, some of which exhibit tumour-promoting activity. Since Euphorbia lathyris and other hydrocarbon-producing crops are new species from the point of view of cultivation, their agronomic characteristics, requirements and yield potentials are not yet well known.