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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF A DOMESTIC SOURCE FOR PRODUCTION OF RICINOLEATE AND OTHER INDUSTRIAL-USE FATTY ACIDS

Location: Crop Improvement & Utilization Research

Title: The Castor Plant: Technology and Biotechnology

Author
item McKeon, Thomas

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 2009
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The castor plant produces castor oil which is used for numerous industrial products, such as bio-lubricants, greases and premium value polymers. As a result castor oil is a strategic material. Since the noxious proteins in castor seed meal are problematic for processing, the project is evaluating several approaches to solve the problem. Thisproceedings paper reviews the chemical industrial applications of castor oil and disusses reesearch approaches aimed at utilization of the crop residue and seed meal remaining after processing castor seed for oil production. This research provides the foundation needed to make castor a practical domestic crop that serves as a renewable replacement for petroleum chemicals.

Technical Abstract: Production of hydroxy fatty acids in plants is of current interest principally due to the novel properties, physical and chemical, that are characteristic of hydroxy fatty acids. Castor oil is currently the only major source of hydroxy fatty acids. It has a long history in medicinal applications, serving as a laxative and during labor to promote the birthing process. Its compatibility as an emollient has promoted its use as a massage oil and in cosmetics. This paper will provide a brief description of castor oil chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014