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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Accelerated Development of Commercial Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (Hrj) Fuel from Redesigned Oilseed Feedstock Supply Chains

Location: Bio-oils Research Unit

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The project objectives are interlinked to address the three aspects of biofuel supply chain performance. These objectives contribute directly to the establishment of commercial renewable jet fuel from brassica napus and supportive businesses, and they are: (1) Feedstock Enhancement. Produce genetically-improved oil seed crops to enhance compatibility of feedstocks with hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel conversion processes, and oil yield and quality stability under stressed production conditions. (2) Feedstock Production. Provide regionalized strategies to guide sustainable oil seed production integration into existing farms in ways that increase farm profitability and rural economic opportunities, while providing biofuel refineries with dependable supplies of high quality feedstocks. (3) Oil Quality. Develop cost-effective processes to remove crop oil impurities from feedstocks that would otherwise increase pre-treatment costs and reduce conversion efficiency of oils to HRJ fuels. (4) Conversion. Optimally configure conversion technology with genetically improved seed oil feedstocks and pre-treatment requirements to reduce the cost of HRJ fuels produced. (5) Commercialization. Align community and business stakeholders to promote their economic opportunities through sustainable asset-based development that incorporates HRJ fuel production compatible with available resources.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Technical Area A/Obj-1. Determine how the oil seed quality/anti-quality constituents affecting HRJ production costs can be genetically altered; and determine how production environments affect the oil constituents important to HRJ production. Timeline: Year-1, 2, and 3. To create improved commercial oil seed cultivars and validate performance as rapidly as possible, the top 2-5% of the association and RIL populations based on oil quantity and quality identified by high throughput oil analysis at NCAUR will be selected, crossed, and immediately entered into a rapid seed increase program for harvest early in Year-2, followed by continued performance validation and seed increases. Enough seeds will be available for planting ecoregion stress trials and producing oil for large-scale conversion efficiency assessments. New improved oil seed germplasm lines with superior oil and abiotic stress attributes will be available for backcrossing into elite commercial lines with the use of the markers associated with large effect QTLs, and continued improvement in the years that follow. Technical Area A/Obj-2a. Determine how environmental variation influences oil seed performance across and between farm fields in different growing regions. Ground- and space-based sensing technology will be incorporated into a protocol to accurately assess oil seed crop production and oil quality across fields and larger scales at high spatial resolution. Technical Area A/Obj-2b. Develop cropping systems that incorporate production of oilseeds into existing agricultural land in ways that enhance production of current crops and improve resource use efficiency. Long-term multi-location crop rotation studies including oil seed crop components from 10 ARS field locations in eight states will be used in a meta-analysis to identify optimal production strategies for incorporating oilseeds into existing agricultural systems and determining break-even oil seed prices needed for feedstock production to compete with existing agricultural land uses in five western U.S. ecoregions. Technical Area B/Obj-1. Improved performance via catalytic means of plant oils into HRJ fuel by optimizing conversion processes to genetically enhance feedstock quality. Honeywell’s UOP operates research and development facilities at two locations in the Chicago metropolitan area. UOP’s primary research facility located in Des Plaines, IL, will be utilized in this program to conduct bench-scale testing of modified plant oils that have been screened and identified to contain the most desirable characteristics for conversion into HRJ fuel. The bench-scale testing will require about one gallon of plant oil feedstock for each of the samples to be tested. Technical Area B/Obj-2. Determine processes for removing glucosinolates by thermal breakdown and sulfur by oil extraction, and combinations of degumming and neutralization processes from oil feedstocks that reduce HRJ fuel conversion efficiency. NCAUR has all needed oil processing facilities and instrumentation for pilot-scale research.


3.Progress Report:

This report details the activity conducted under the direction of ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois.

The grant is funding research to develop hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel from brassica in rotation with wheat. Other ARS principal investigator activities under this grant can be found under the project numbers of the principal investigators at those locations. NCAUR serves as the principal director for the oversight of the entire grant. Organizational meetings have occurred on a monthly basis since March 2012 through January 2013, then on a bi-monthly basis to the current date by teleconference. The grant has 7 Principal investigators and 15 sub-principal investigators stretching across the entire U.S. with representatives from ARS, universities, and industry.

In year 1 of the grant, NCAUR has developed a pulsed nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) method for the analysis of total oil and gas chromatograph (GC) methods for the analysis of fatty acids in brassica germplasm. In addition, preliminary near infrared (NIR) calibrations are under evaluation for total oil, fatty acids, protein, and moisture content for brassica germplasm. Wet chemical methods for chlorophyll and total glucosinolates in the germplasm are under development for validation of the NIR response curves. Variability in seed coat color has a significant role in the NIR calibrations along with the expected high degree of genetic variability in the diversity trials conducted under this study. The robustness of the NIR is under evaluation for this large variable sample set and the supporting wet chemical methods are under development for this validation process.

Also under the direction of NCAUR are 3 Assistance-Type Cooperative Agreements: AeCAP, Inc. (3620-41000-158-08A), Michigan Technological University (3620-41000-158-09A), and the Agricultural Technology Innovative Partnership (ATIP) Foundation (3620-41000-158-11A). Their progress reports can be found under the respective sibiling project numbers.


Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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