Copaiba

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Copaifera langsdorfii in a park in São Paulo Brazil.

Copaiba is a stimulant oleoresin obtained from the trunk of several pinnate-leaved South American leguminous trees (genus Copaifera). The thick, transparent exudate varies in color from light gold to dark brown, depending on the ratio of resin to essential oil. Copaiba is used in making varnishes and lacquers.

The hydrocarbons in copaiba are terpenes, which are made by plants from isoprene, a "five-carbon-atom building block, so they always contain carbon atoms in multiples of five. Pinene is one of several useful 10-carbon terpenes. It is commonly known as turpentine. Heated up, terpenes break down into methanol (CH3OH) and other simple compounds useful for fuel and as raw materials in the chemical industry."[1]

Copaiba is also a common name for several species of trees of the legume family native to Tropical Africa and North and South America.

Uses[edit]

Copaiba (Copaifera reticulata) oleoresin (non-fractionated) in a clear glass vial
Copaiba (Copaifera reticulata) essential oil (fractionated) in a clear glass vial

Copaiba is particularly interesting as a source of biodiesel, because of the high yield of 12,000 liters per ha. The resin is tapped from standing trees, with an individual tree yielding 40 liters per year.[2] [3]

Medicinally, copaiba has been used to treat stomach cancer and ulcers. It has demonstrated antifungal properties, among a wide variety of ascribed medicinal properties.[4] In the Amazon river basin, the resin is widely used to alleviate itching from insect bites and to promote their more rapid healing.

Copaiba is also used as an artist material, especially in oil paint recipes and in ceramic decoration. Mineral painters use a medium made of copaiba, turpentine and lavender to mix with their minerals for adhesion to ceramic vessels before kiln firing. Copaiba makes a good medium for oils and helps with both adhesion and quality of shine.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Don Button. "Diesel Trees". Science Forum. Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  2. ^ "Farmer planning diesel tree biofuel". Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  3. ^ "New fuel source from trees". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2007-04-26. [dead link]
  4. ^ Duke, James A., (1982). Handbook of Energy Crops: Copaifera langsdorfii Desf.. From the Purdue Center for New Crops Web site.