AskDefine | Define copaiba

Dictionary Definition

copaiba n : an oleoresin used in varnishes and ointments [syn: copaiba balsam, balsam capivi]

Extensive Definition

Copaiba is a stimulant oleoresin obtained from 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."
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

Diesel fuel can be obtained from copaiba. As of 1990 it provided 20 percent of all of Brazil's oil exports.
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.
Medicinally, copaiba has been used to treat stomach cancer and ulcers and has antifungal properties, among a very wide variety of other ascribed medicinal properties.

References

copaiba in French: Copaiba
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