Location: Renewable Product Technology Research2011 Annual Report
1. Sustainable insect repellent made from row crop. Cuphea is an oil seed crop being grown in limited quantities in the upper Midwest. USDA, ARS scientists in the Renewable Product Technology Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, IL, developed a method to produce 2-undecanone, a compound known to repel biting insects, from the oil extracted from the seeds of Cuphea. Because this conversion is relatively simple and the value of the resulting compound is high, growing Cuphea for this specific use may make this a profitable alternative crop. A patent has been applied for covering the synthesis of 2-undecanone from Cuphea oil. 2-Undecanone is both a fragrance and an insect repellent, and this approach affords a cost-effective natural, sustainable product. The technology has yet to be transferred, but users could include manufacturers of sustainable fragrances and insect repellents. The latter use is an especially valuable alternative to the most common insect repellent, DEET. This natural and less toxic alternative for DEET is expected to create a large-volume use for Cuphea oil. Commercialization of this process will provide economic incentives for farmers to grow Cuphea.
2. Conversion of vegetable oils and biomass to useful industrial chemicals. USDA, ARS scientists in the Renewable Product Technology Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, IL, have focused research on converting biomass into commodity chemicals. Seven basic building block chemicals used in the synthesis of many polymers and consumer products, from carpets to plastic bottles, are derived from petroleum. We developed inorganic catalysts that convert vegetable oils and biomass at high temperatures to some of these basic building block, commodity chemicals. This research has led to a pending Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with industry collaborators to develop catalysts for converting alternative oils and biomass to commodity chemicals.
Laszlo, J.A., Jackson, M.A., Blanco, R.M. 2011. Active-site titration analysis of surface influence on immobilized Candida antarctica Lipase B activity. Journal of Molecular Catalysis B: Enzymatic. 69:60-65.