, Volume 67, Issue 11, pp 525–533 | Cite as

Hydrocarbons from plants: Analytical methods and observations

  • Melvin Calvin


We have suggested that certain plants rich in hydrocarbon-like materials might be cultivated for renewable photosynthetic products. Two species were selected for experimental plantations: Euphorbia lathyris, an annual from seed and Euphorbia tirucalli, a perennial from cuttings. The yield from each species is over 10 barrels of oil/acre/year without genetic or agronomic improvement. In addition to plants, there are trees, such as species of Copaifera in Brazil and other tropical areas, which produce a diesel-like oil upon tapping. Each tree produces approximately 40 liters of hydrocarbon per year, and this material can be used directly by a diesel-powered car. Further efforts to develop plants as alternate energy sources are underway, as well as a continuing search for additional plant species throughout the world which have a similar capability.


Plant Species Hydrocarbon Energy Source Experimental Plantation Alternate Energy 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melvin Calvin
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Chemical BiodynamicsUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

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