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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Research Project #427293

Research Project: Replacement of Petroleum Products Utilizing Off-Season Rotational Crops

Location: Bio-oils Research

2017 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Enable, from a technological standpoint, the commercial production of off-season oilseed rotational crops. Sub-objective 1.1. Identify and develop winter annuals. Sub-objective 1.2. Identify and develop spring/fall annuals. Sub-objective 1.3. Evaluate and survey new off-season germplasm. Objective 2: Enable processes for the commercial production of oils, meal, gums, and protein from off-season oilseed crops such as pennycress, camelina, and coriander. Sub-objective 2.1. Develop methods for processing and refining of modified oils and waxes from camelina, crambe, and other oilseed crops. Sub-objective 2.2. Develop isolation method, production, and testing application of gums from mucilage-containing Brassica seeds (lesquerella and camelina). Sub-objective 2.3. Develop value-added products from seed meals of off-season oilseed crops for industrial applications. Objective 3: Enable commercial processes for converting the oils from off-season rotational oilseed crops into marketable value-added biobased products. Sub-objective 3.1. Develop biobased estolide lubricants/additives. Sub-objective 3.2. Develop platform chemicals from off-season rotation crops. Sub-objective 3.3. Develop polyketo, polyamines, and corresponding salts as chelating or sequestering agents and plasticizers.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
New off-season crop development is critical to the future sustainability of the United States (U.S.) agriculture by reducing the farmer’s dependence on government subsidies for a select few commodity crops such as corn and soybeans, and by supplementing our need for energy without decreasing food production (food vs. fuel). A number of off-season new crops (pennycress and coriander) will be further developed for the U.S. by developing cost effective industrial products and processes from these agricultural feedstocks. A collaborative effort to the development of pennycress, camelina, and coriander will occur: 1) Off-season germplasm development will be supported through developing analytical methods to rapidly analyze glucosinolates, oil, and seed quality. Additionally, off-season crop germplasm resources will be surveyed and publicly accessible databases generated; 2) Development of chemical and physical processes that enable the commercial production of oils, meal, gums, and proteins in off-season oilseed crops. In order to produce and demonstrate economic data, the new crop raw materials will be produced in pilot scale quantities. 3) Development of novel industrial chemicals and processes through organic synthesis based on off-season crop raw materials derived above. Products to be developed include biodegradable lubricants, biobased viscosity modifiers, lubricant additives, cosmetics, and chelating or sequestering agents. Overall, this research will lead to the development and expansion of off-season oilseed crops which will help diversify the U.S. farm as well as expand the U.S. arsenal of industrial biofriendly chemicals and processes.

3. Progress Report:
New off-season crop development is critical to the future sustainability of United States (U.S.) agriculture by reducing the farmers' dependence on government and by supplementing our need for bio-based products without decreasing food production. One of the most logical ways to help reduce the farmers’ production costs is to use land year-round for crop production. The development of pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) as an off-season rotation crop continues to be our best new crop candidate. With the help of ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, pennycress continued to be commercially grown (by a St. Louis, Missouri, based company) during the 2016-2017 season. The commercial production success is more than just a one year effort, but rather the result of more than a decade of research efforts by ARS scientists on the production of pennycress. Pennycress has properties suitable for the development of biofuels, such as an aviation jet fuel drop-in replacement. Commercialization and collaborative research efforts continue as ARS scientists provided consultative oversight for production and processing of the seeds for oil/meal/protein and have additionally developed other potential industrial products from the oil. Other new crops of interest include a genetically modified camelina. Camelina was modified by a Cooperator to produce 3-acetyl,1-,2-diacylglycerol (acetyl-TAG). The genetically modified oil was extracted from the seeds via screw/solvent extraction and refined (degumming, neutralization, and bleaching). The acetyl-TAG oils were initially isolated with a laboratory centrifugal short-path molecular still. Additional discoveries showed that a wiped-film short-path still was even more efficient in separating the acetyl-TAG from the oil, recovering close to 94%. The distilled material was of high purity as indicated by analytical analyses. One of the most successful products developed by ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, have been estolides which are a vegetable-based-type lubricant. Estolides from waste cooking oils were synthesized and tested in lubricant applications. Estolides were produced in high-yield and have physical properties exceeding that of commercial petroleum oils. The use of waste cooking oils in this application will aid in the disposal/resale of these oils while producing a potential commercial product. Finally, ARS scientists have continued to refine a chemical process to modify vegetable oils into highly functionalized vegetable oils that have the ability to bind to certain heavy metal elements; potential applications include environmental remediation.

4. Accomplishments
1. Release of pennycress germplasm, Elizabeth (PI 677360). Pennycress has high dormancy rates which imparts weediness to the crop and makes establishing fields difficult. Improved germination rates will help the advancement of pennycress as a rotation crop by reducing the potential for development of persistent seed bank in the soil through immediate germination post-harvest of pennycress where the seedlings will not survive under a soybean canopy. A non-dormant pennycress germplasm named Elizabeth was developed by ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, and the release has been deposited in the USDA-ARS-National Plant Germplasm System (North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa). Elizabeth was developed by four generations of mass selection based on the germination response of freshly harvested (1 day old) pennycress seeds. Having advanced germplasm will give farmers and producers higher yielding plants as well as give breeders new germplasm to evaluate and explore. The Elizabeth germplasm remains a winter type; it requires vernalization to bolt and set seed, which gives farmers the ability to plant by multiple mechanized methods including direct incorporation into the soil or into standing corn by airplane to reduce production costs.

Review Publications
Jarret, R.L., Levy, I., Potter, T.L., Cermak, S.C. 2016. Oil and fatty acids in eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) and some related and unrelated Solanum Spp. American Journal of Applied Sciences. 11(2):76-81.
Sintim, H.Y., Zheljazkov, V.D., Foley, M.E., Evangelista, R.L. 2017. Coal-bed methane water: effects on soil properties and camelina productivity. Journal of Environmental Quality. 46(3):641-648.
Berti, M., Gesch, R., Eynck, C., Anderson, J., Cermak, S. 2016. Camelina uses, genetics, genomics, production and management. Industrial Crops and Products. 94:690-710.
Biresaw, G., Lansing, J.C., Bantchev, G.B., Murray, R.E., Harry-O'Kuru, R.E. 2017. Chemical, physical and tribological investigation of polymercaptanized soybean oil. Tribology Letters. 65:87.
Doll, K.M., Cermak, S.C., Kenar, J.A., Walter, E.L., Isbell, T.A. 2017. Derivatization of castor oil based estolide esters: Preparation of epoxides and cyclic carbonates. Industrial Crops and Products. 104:269-277.
Compton, D.L., Goodell, J., Berhow, M.A., Kenar, J.A., Cermak, S.C., Evans, K.O. 2017. Feruloylated products from coconut oil and shea butter. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 94:397-411.
Hojilla-Evangelista, M.P., Evangelista, R.L. 2017. Effects of steam distillation and screw-pressing on extraction, composition and functional properties of protein in dehulled coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.). Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 94(2):315-324.
Isbell, T.A., Cermak, S.C., Marek, L.F. 2017. Registration of Elizabeth Thlaspi arvense L. (Pennycress) with improved nondormant traits. Journal of Plant Registrations. doi: 10.3198/jpr2016.12.0073crg.
Evangelista, R.L., Cermak, S.C., Hojilla-Evangelista, M.P., Moser, B.R., Isbell, T.A. 2017. Field pennycress: A new oilseed crop for the production of biofuels, lubricants, and high-quality proteins. In: Biresaw, G., Mittal, K.L., editors. Surfactants in Tribology. Volume 5. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 369-400.