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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development and Utilization of New Oilseed Crops and Products

Location: Bio-oils Research Unit

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
(1) Elucidate chemistry and characterize unique functional properties of new oilseed crop germplasm. (2) Develop processes that enable the commercial production of oils, meal, gums, and phytochemicals from new oilseed crops such as Lesquerella, Pennycress, Euphorbia, and Coriander. (3) Develop commercially viable lubricants, cosmetics and industrial platform chemicals based on derivatives of components from new oilseed crops.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
New crop development is critical to the future sustainability of United States (U.S.) agriculture by reducing the farmer’s dependence on government subsidies for a select few commodity crops, and by supplementing our need for energy without decreasing food production (food and fuel). A series of new crops and off-season new crops will be developed for different growing regions within the U.S. by developing industrial products and processes from these agricultural feedstocks. A collaborative effort to the development of Cuphea (PSR23), Lesquerella, Pennycress, Camelina, Meadowfoam (limnanthes), Coriander, and Euphorbia will occur:.
1)Off-season germplasm development will be supported through developing analytical methods to rapidly analyze protein, oil, and seed quality. Additionally, new crop germplasm resources will be surveyed and publically accessible databases generated;.
2)Development of chemical and physical processes that enable the commercial production of new oilseed crops through the isolation of oils, meal, gums, and phytochemicals. Additionally, and most importantly, the new crop raw materials will be produced in pilot scale quantities. Utilization of native lipases located in both the defatted and whole seed will enhance in offsetting oil production costs; and,.
3)Development of novel industrial chemicals and processes through organic synthesis based on new crop raw materials derived above. Products to be developed include biodegradable lubricants, bio-based viscosity modifiers, lubricant additives, cosmetics, oxidative products, and saturated medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Overall, this research will lead to the development of new oilseed crops which will diversify the U.S. farm as well as expend our arsenal of industrial biofriendly chemicals.


3.Progress Report:
United States (U.S.) farmers have seen crop production costs increase exponentially over the past several years. Costs for food and crop-based products have also been on the rise, but not at the same rate as the production costs. One way to help reduce these production costs is for farmers to use their land year-round for crop production. Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) is being developed as an off-season rotation crop between corn and soybean production. With the help of ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, IL, pennycress was commercially grown in the 2011-2012 season on 800 acres of land. This commercial production is the result of nine years of research byARS scientists for the production of pennycress with demonstrated properties suitable for biofuels. Peoria based company Arvens Technology, Inc, who has received two SBIR grants (Phase I & II), are leading the commercialization efforts and ARS scientists provide consultative oversight for this production, performed the seed increase, and have been processing the seeds for oil. These advances continue to drive pennycress interest with farmers and commercial partners.

Aerial seeding of pennycress over standing corn has yielded good emergence and plant densities while limiting farmers input costs. Long term seed storage conditions are still in progress, but initial results indicate that storage in breathable containers, even exposed to ambient temperature fluctuations, will be appropriate for seed viability. Optimization of oil refining is currently being conducted to establish the minimum processing requirements to meet feedstock specifications. Traditionally, oil refining involves the following successive steps: degumming (removes phosphatides), neutralization (reduces free fatty acid), bleaching (reduces color/trace metals), winterization (eliminates waxes/triglycerides with high-melting point), and deodorization (removes odor/volatiles). The major concern is the high levels of sulfur-containing compounds in crude pennycress oil. These sulfur compounds poison the catalyst used in hydrogenating the oil, the first step in the manufacture of hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel which is the intended use for the oil. Pennycress oil obtained by full pressing and employing optimum conditions for maximum oil yield contained about nine times sulfur than that of crude rapeseed oil. About 97% of the sulfur was eliminated after neutralization and bleaching. However, crushing under controlled conditions of seed moisture, temperature and time of heating of seed before crushing and the crushing pressure has demonstrated sulfur content to be less than 15 ppm thereby eliminating the need for neutralization and bleaching. Samples of crude and refined oils have been sent out to industrial partners and collaborators interested in utilizing pennycress oil as a feedstock for biodiesel and jet fuel production. To date, about 19,000 lbs of pennycress seeds have been screw pressed producing 550 gallons of crude oil.


4.Accomplishments
1. Pennycress - the winter annual. United States (U.S.) farmers have seen production costs increase exponentially over the past several years. Costs for food and crop-based products have also been on the rise, but not at the same rate as the production costs. One way to help reduce these production costs is for farmers to use their land year-round for crop production. With the help of ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, IL, aerial seeding of pennycress over standing corn has yielded good emergence and plant densities while limiting farmers input costs. Long term seed storage conditions are still in progress, but initial results indicate that storage in breathable containers, even exposed to ambient temperature fluctuations, will be appropriate for seed viability. These advances continue to drive pennycress interest with farmers and commercial partners.

2. Estolides – batch production and commercialization. There is great demand in the U.S. and worldwide for increased development of bio-based products. Estolides have physical properties that can make them a leader in fulfilling demand for increased development of bio-based lubricants in the U.S. ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, IL, refined and improved estolide chemical properties as well as transferred synthetic knowledge to an industrial partner with the use of ARS’s pilot plant facilities. ARS scientists have solved the large scale batch production issues. These advancements have continued to supply commercial estolide product in FY12.

3. New Crops - sample requests and crop development. The availability of new crop seed, oil and products worldwide are limited by supply. In FY12, ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, IL, continued to supply industrial partners and any interested parties with the following new crop oils: cuphea, lesquerella, pennycress, coriander, echium, buglossoides, and various versions of estolides for industrial evaluation. These efforts to support industry and research with new crop oils, products, and information has promoted numerous collaborative new crop projects, ultimately generating increased supply of materials needed to reduce U.S. reliance on imported petroleum.


Review Publications
Evangelista, R.L., Isbell, T., Cermak, S.C. 2012. Extraction of pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) seed oil by full pressing. Industrial Crops and Products. 37(1):76-81.

Cermak, D.M., Cermak, S.C., Deppe, A.B., Durham, A.L. 2012. Novel alpha-hydroxy phosphonic acids via castor oil. Industrial Crops and Products. 37:394-400.

Harry-O'Kuru, R.E., Mohamed, A., Gordon, S.H., Xu, J. 2012. Syntheses of novel protein products (milkglyde, saliglyde and soyglide) from vegetable epoxy oils and gliadin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 60(7):1688-1694.

Cermak, S.C., Evangelista, R.L., Kenar, J.A. 2012. Distillation of natural fatty acids and their chemical derivatives. In: Zereshki, S., editor. Distillation. Rijeka, Croatia: InTech Press. p. 109:140.

Liu, Z., Shah, S.N., Evangelista, R.L., Isbell, T. 2013. Polymerization of euphorbia oil with Lewis acid in carbon dioxide media. Industrial Crops and Products. 41:10-16.

Pavlista, A.D., Baltensperger, D.D., Isbell, T., Hergert, G.W. 2012. Comparative growth of Spring-planted canola, brown mustard and camelina. Industrial Crops and Products. 36(1):9-13.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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