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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

2019 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 the United States (U.S.) agriculture by reducing farmer’s dependence on government subsidies and by supplementing our need for bio-based products without decreasing food production. Past efforts by ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, have led to the development of pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) as an off-season rotation crop. Pennycress continued to be commercially grown (by a St. Louis, Missouri, based company) during the 2018-2019 season. Pennycress oil has properties suitable for the development of biofuels – i.e. as an aviation jet fuel drop-in replacement. Commercialization and collaborative research efforts continue as ARS scientists provided consultative oversight for production and processing the seeds for oil/meal/protein and have additionally developed other potential industrial products from the oil. Other off-season crops are also being evaluated as possible oil seed commercial crops. For example, Camelina (C. sativa) which the U.S. Navy chose as the feedstock for their first test of aviation biofuel was studied in a late season rotation with spring wheat. Rotation studies and evaluations are positive and ongoing. Additionally, ARS scientists have isolated the mucilage (polysaccharide substance) and protein from camelina. The mucilage and protein were extracted from intact seeds and defatted seed meal and press cake as separate products. Samples are currently being analyzed for proximate composition and monosaccharide composition analysis. A renewable source of polyketone, polyimine, and polyamine vegetable oil generated with built-in functional groups which enables chelation or removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous solutions was developed by ARS scientists. Applications include neutralization, metalworking, metal ion adsorption/extraction/sequestration. ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, and Lincoln, Nebraska, through a cross National Program (NP) collaboration (NP306 and NP104) have continued to develop new bio-based insect formulations to repel biting or blood sucking insects (flies, mosquitos, ticks, and bed bugs). The all-natural aqueous formulations have provided promising results as new routes are under review. Finally, the most successful products developed by ARS scientists, in Peoria, Illinois, have been the estolides which are a vegetable-based-type lubricant. Commercialization efforts continue as ARS scientists provided consultative oversight for scale-up production and with the development of new products and applications.

4. Accomplishments
1. New bio-based estolide composition. There is a great demand in the U.S. and the world for increased bio-based product development. ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, initially developed a class of bio-based materials called estolides made from plant oils. These estolides are known for their outstanding motor oil properties. ARS scientists determined early on the structure of the estolides had a lot to do with how well it performed under extreme lubrication conditions. Currently, the original estolides are used only in lubrication applications but scientists hypothesized what else could be changed on the estolide that would have the greatest impact on its properties. Thus, ARS scientists recently synthesized a new levulinic-capped estolide with a simple structural modification: a “handle” placed on the estolide. These new estolides are made from 100 percent renewable materials, with advanced physical properties, and can be further derivatized to make more complex materials. The global lubricant market size is valued at more than $128 billion and is expected to increase. This new finding will open markets for farmers, consumers, and retailers.

Review Publications
Altendorf, K., Isbell, T., Wyse, D.L., Anderson, J.A. 2019. Significant variation for seed oil content, fatty acid profile, and seed weight in natural populations of field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.). Industrial Crops and Products. 129:261-268.
Zhu, J.J., Cermak, S.C., Kenar, J.A., Brewer, G., Haynes, K., Boxler, D., Baker, P., Wang, D., Wang, C., Li, A.Y., Xue, R., Shen, Y., Wang, F., Agramonte, N.M., Bernier, U.R., Filho, J., Ligia, B., Taylor, D.B., Friesen, K.M. 2018. Better than DEET repellent compounds derived from coconut oil. Nature Scientific Reports. 8:14053.
Bantchev, G.B., Cermak, S.C., Durham, A.L., Price, N.P. 2019. Estolide molecular weight distribution via gel permeation chromatography. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 96(4):365-380.
Qureshi, N., Harry-O'Kuru, R.E., Liu, S., Saha, B. 2018. Yellow top (Physaria fendleri) presscake: a novel substrate for butanol production and reduction in environmental pollution. Biotechnology Progress. 35(3):e2767.
Harry-O-Kuru, R.E., Biresaw, G., Xu, J. 2019. Thermal behavior of polyformates of milkweed and soybean oils. Journal of Applied Polymer Science.