Location: Bio-oils Research2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
(1) Elucidate chemistry and characterize unique functional properties of new oilseed crop germplasm. (2) Develop processes that enable the commercial production of oils, meal, gums, and phytochemicals from new oilseed crops such as Lesquerella, Pennycress, Euphorbia, and Coriander. (3) Develop commercially viable lubricants, cosmetics and industrial platform chemicals based on derivatives of components from new oilseed crops.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
New crop development is critical to the future sustainability of United States (US) agriculture by reducing the farmer’s dependence on government subsidies for a select few commodity crops, and by supplementing our need for energy without decreasing food production (food and fuel). A series of new crops and off-season new crops will be developed for different growing regions within the US by developing industrial products and processes from these agricultural feedstocks. A collaborative effort to the development of Cuphea (PSR23), Lesquerella, Pennycress, Camelina, Meadowfoam (limnanthes), Coriander, and Euphorbia will occur: 1) Off-season germplasm development will be supported through developing analytical methods to rapidly analyze protein, oil and seed quality. Additionally, new crop germplasm resources will be surveyed and publically accessible databases generated; 2) Development of chemical and physical processes that enable the commercial production of new oilseed crops through the isolation of oils, meal, gums, and phytochemicals. Additionally, and most importantly, the new crop raw materials will be produced in pilot scale quantities. Utilization of native lipases located in both the defatted and whole seed will enhance in offsetting oil production costs; and, 3) Development of novel industrial chemicals and processes through organic synthesis based on new crop raw materials derived above. Products to be developed include biodegradable lubricants, bio-based viscosity modifiers, lubricant additives, cosmetics, oxidative products, and saturated medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Overall, this research will lead to the development of new oilseed crops which will diversify the US farm as well as expend our arsenal of industrial biofriendly chemicals.
3. Progress Report:
United States (U.S.) farmers have seen crop production costs increase exponentially over the past several years. Costs for food and crop-based products have also been on the rise, but not at the same rate as the production costs. One of the best ways to help reduce these production costs is for farmers to use their land year-round for crop production. Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) is being developed as an off-season rotation crop between corn and soybean production. With the help of ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, pennycress was commercially grown in the 2012-2013 season on 1000 acres of land. This commercial production is the result of 10 years of research by ARS scientists for the production of pennycress with demonstrated properties suitable for biofuels. A Peoria based company is leading the commercialization efforts and ARS scientists provided consultative oversight for this production, performed the seed increase, have been processing the seeds for oil, and have been looking for other potential applications for this oil. These advances continue to drive pennycress interest with farmers and commercial partners. Aerial seeding of pennycress over standing corn still seems to be the best method to establish good emergence and plant densities while limiting farmers input costs. One of the main challenges with the domestication of pennycress is the maturation requirement (dormancy). This dormancy has an initial period of 3 months and full non-dormancy of seed requires 12 months of storage. High dormancy rates allow seeds to be viable within the soil profile for many years rather than immediately. ARS scientists have improved the 2% non-dormancy in pennycress seed to 87% non-dormancy through 3 generations of selection pressure in growth chambers. Non-dormant seed will allow commercial planting of seed in the first growing season rather than a 15 month storage cycle which is now required before planting. This advanced selection is now being seed increased for a field plot evaluation in the fall of 2013. Samples of crude and refined oils have been sent to industrial partners and collaborators interested in utilizing pennycress oil as a feedstock for biodiesel and jet fuel production. To date, more than 20,000 lbs of pennycress seeds have been screw pressed producing 600 gallons of crude oil. Germplasm chemical analytical support for new crops were also conducted for 324 camelina samples for total oil and fatty acids; 300 Euphorbia samples for total oil and fatty acids; 350 fatty acid profiles of lesquerella.
1. Pennycress - the winter annual. U.S. farmers have seen production costs increase exponentially over the past several years. Costs for food and crop-based products have also been on the rise, but not at the same rate as the production costs. One way to help reduce these production costs is for farmers to use their land year round for crop production. A past weed called pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) grows off season and meets the requirements to fit into the corn and soybean rotations. One of the main challenges with the domestication of pennycress is the maturation requirement (dormancy). With the help of ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, seed dormancy has almost been eliminated. Thlaspi arvense (pennycress) germplasm was improved from 2% non-dormancy to 87% non-dormancy through 3 generations of selection pressure in a growth chamber. This selection is now being seed increased for a field plot evaluation in the fall of 2013. The elimination of dormancy will: improve land use, enable the faster development of commercial seeds, provide higher production yields, as well as provide additional income to U.S. farmers.
2. Estolides (biobased lubricants) – formulation, batch production, and commercialization. There continues to be a great demand in the U.S. and worldwide for an increased development of bio-based products. The estolides have physical properties that can make them a leader in fulfilling the demand for increased development of bio-based lubricants in the U.S. ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, refined and improved the estolide chemical properties through formulation and synthetic improvements as well as transferred synthetic knowledge with the use of NCAUR’s pilot plant facilities on to the industrial partner. ARS scientists have solved the large scale batch production issues such as high acid values. These advancements have continued to supply the commercial estolide product.
3. New Crops - sample requests and crop development. Worldwide, the availability of new crop seed, oil, and products are limited by supply. ARS scientists in the Bio-Oils Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, continued to supply industrial partners and any interested parties with the following new crop oils: cuphea, lesquerella, pennycress, coriander, echium, buglossoides, and various versions of estolides for industrial evaluation. Without this effort, research and development of new crops from these products would be nonexistent. These efforts to support industry and research with new crop oils, products, and information has promoted numerous cooperative research agreements and collaborative new crop projects, ultimately generating new commercial products for the U.S. consumer.
Cermak, S.C., Evangelista, R.L. 2013. Lubricants and functional fluids from lesquerella oil. In: Biresaw, G., Mittal, K.L., editors. Surfactants in Tribology. Volume 3. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 195-226.