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article imageOilseed plants being considered for biofuels

By Tim Sandle     Aug 17, 2015 in Science
A non-food oilseed crop appears to a strong candidate for biofuel production. The crop has not previously been considered as a basis for fuels. New research suggests the crop has potential.
The oilseed in question is Camelina sativa. The crop is a hardy one and it can grow on most farmland and in areas where there is little rainfall. The oilseed can be rotated with wheat, providing farmers with an alternate food crop- biofuel crop regime. The ideal locations in the U.S. are within Kansas and Colorado. By alternating crops and not plundering food resources form the developing world, this type of biofuel goes someway to addressing the ethical dilemmas associated with biofuel crop production.
A biofuel is a type of fuel produced by processing a biological substance (typically a biomass). Most of the processes require the use of microorganisms, as with the production of bioethanol or the creation of hydrocarbons. Biofuels differ from fossil fuels (products of long geological processes.)
In experiments the oilseed has been used to produce the highest levels of modified seed lipids yet seen. These lipids provide the core ingredient for biofuel generation. The resultant food oil has a low viscosity and good cold temperature characteristics.
Furthermore, studies involving the genetic modification of the oilseed have produced even higher quantities of oil. The produced oil is called acetyl-TAGS.
As well as a biofuel, the oil can potentially be used for lubricants or as a base in the chemical industry. Examples of application include plasticizers and food emulsifiers.
The research was performed at Kansas State University. The findings have been published in Plant Biotechnology Journal; with the paper headed “Metabolic engineering of oilseed crops to produce high levels of novel acetyl glyceride oils with reduced viscosity, freezing point and calorific value.”
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